I recently turned 29.
I’m going to let that sink in for a moment.
This means that even by the most generous calculations, I am closer to 30 than I am to 20. And once you turn 29, you join a very special sorority. Let me elaborate..
In your teens and 20s you have, if not an actual list, at the very least a mental list of things you want to achieve by the time you turn 30. Usually there’s some heavy stuff in there, like marriage, babies, houses, career goals, maybe a car, maybe even a cleaner for this big house you can now afford with your awesome salary!
But when you turn 29, as you blow out the candles on your birthday cake, a terrifying realisation washes over you, followed immediately by hysteria-ridden irrational positivity. In your head, it goes something like this:
“Oh God. Oh God. Only 12 months left. I’m a huge failure. I still went to the bar asking for ‘the cheapest beer’ for Goodness sake. I’ve achieved nothing! No hang on, this is only 29. It’s ok. Calm down. You STILL have 12 months. Sure, you couldn’t do any of this in the past 28 years, but now is the MAGIC age. This is the time to tick things off the list! To achieve all your life’s goals at record speed! If humans can fly to the moon, why can’t you tweak your CV and shoot up three tax brackets in 12 months? And making babies only takes 9 months, that leaves you a whole three extra months to get to know the father and find a house!”
It is the fear, the panic, the ‘last chance’, the ‘final straw’, the ‘beginning of the end’ angst that makes 29 such a special age, because you have been made to believe that if you haven’t ticked them off the list by the time you reach 30, you’ll never achieve them.
But of course if you’re anything like me, you’re far from having any of these things. To put things into perspective, I still can’t really afford the $1 extra they charge if you want guacamole with your burrito. And I still don’t own a washing machine. And I still don’t confidently know how to hold a baby without breaking its neck.
And that’s ok. Because the truth is that being 29 doesn’t mean you’re an adult. It just means you’re 29. All you know about adulthood at this point is that it’s tough and scary, it’s full of difficult decisions that make you sleepy, it’s not all just candy before dinner, and you would rather not be an adult, or at least delay it for as long as possible.
But truth be told, 29 isn’t all bad either. I feel like I have finally earned enough years to understand what is meant by ‘you live and learn’. I certainly have many years of learning ahead of me to be taken seriously by society, but I feel that I can at least drop some golden nuggets of wisdom on the average 21-year old, thanks to all the extra years of getting my ass handed to me by life.
Also, I can now stop pretending to like leaving my house at 10pm and returning at 3am, because dammit, I survived 29 winters and it was tiring, and I just want to ‘be’ for once!
Another unexpected new thing is that high school kids give you their seat on the bus, because you’re finally old enough for at least one generation to show you some respect. Because apart from all those winters, you also survived the hell that is high school!
So as I manage the perks and devastations of being 29, I shall share my thoughts with you, dearest reader, and hope it will make you smile.