At about noon this past Thursday the 4th of February, I officially lived outside the womb for three decades. Yep, I'm now elderly, but interestingly, as every birthday that came before, the day came and went without too much fanfare. I certainly don't feel any different. I have been blessed with my mother's genes: A thin build, energy, elasticity . . . Compared to some of my friends who struggle with a few pounds or climbing a steep staircase, I am doing really well and besides playing hockey several times a week, being an event videographer, and walking in the New England elements, I haven't really 'earned' my body. Mentally, I feel as sharp as ever, although the further from college I get, the more useless trivia and high-end math skills I no longer need slip away. That's normal, right?
Despite feeling pretty good and looking fabulous, much has happened over the past 30 years. When I was born, the Internet was not around and personal computers were a luxury item. The Digital Age was just beginning, but I feel like everyone expounds on how much and how fast life has changed technologically since the 80's. So how about what has changed when it comes to turning 30 years old?
Since I was born, life expectancy has gone up almost 4 years in America. At the same time, through fitness and surgeries, it seems like all our 'role model' celebrities don't really age or even get younger. Have you seen JLo? We have a social media presence that allows us to connect with people like never before. The average college debt is over $30,000 and it's hard to find a paying job in a field after college. All these factors form the archetypal millennial, who goes to college, accrues crushing debt, takes years to find a job in their field, and lives at their parents house longer than previous generations because they can't afford to move out. This person has all the ingredients to mature slower than previous generations. I mean, if you leave home at 18 to get married, buy a house, and start a family, there are certain skills you need to exist independent of your parents, but those skills don't need to be acquired as fast for kids who will definitely stay at home until at least the end of college. A millennial mind is well educated, but might not have the 'common sense' skills they need to survive on their own right away. Thus, true maturity comes a little later in life for these recent generations and, like me, people might not have the sense of purpose or know what they want out of life until thirty or even a little after.
There is also a sort of melding of generations where definitive boundaries once existed. A common theme from the 60's on up to the 90's in music, TV, and movies: Parents just don't understand! And there still is a gap between Parents and kids, but it seems to shrink every year. It makes sense, as parents are in their children's lives, directly, longer and longer and media is so easy to access and consume. I know my mom is far more updated on the pop music scene than I am and she also uses Instagram, Facebook, and other social media once reserved for young whippersnappers. Parents are easier to talk to, less hard nosed, more understanding (in general). I mean gender, race, and other barriers seem to fall everyday or at least inch closer to total equality. There are so many people willing to question authority or take a rationalist point of view (Most times to their detriment), that parents and grand parents are able to comprehend issues with greater tact and understanding than ever before. And so, in today's world, when generations are growing similar, age becomes of less importance.
When I crossed into a new decade earlier this week, it was by no means the end of my youthfulness by my own standards, but also by the standards of society. I'm 30. So what? Life is harder than ever, so it takes longer for some of us to truly find ourselves.
Time will tell if I am treated differently for being 30 or the same. For instance, as an online dating user, will potential matches think twice about me now that I'm not in my twenties? Does age matter and if so, when? Are there certain expectations that come with being a certain age? I look forward to finding out. Until I am truly old 'though, I will continue to eat Fruit Loops for breakfast, laugh at fart jokes, and send frequent snapchats secure in the fact that while I might be 30 years old in official terms, I'm definitely still mostly a child at heart.