The Philosophy of 30
Assuming most of you reading this were not born 199,970 years ago, you’re familiar with turning thirty. I am about to be familiar with it. I’m a Taurus and I am a member of the class of 2000; something that seemed to be a much bigger deal in the year 2000 – what happened to all the documentaries and special yearbooks? I think they gave up on us after Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook. Makes sense.
As my birthday approaches I begin to feel the pressures of mortality associated with the first one-third of my life (I’m living to ninety according to the University of Pennsylvania’s online Life Expectancy Calendar). There were others like me facing existential angsts as they approached thirty: Frederich Nietzsche, St. Thomas Aquinas, and of course Mark Zuckerberg… but I wanted to know, I wanted to really deconstruct the process of reaching this age in order to deduce the experiential understanding of all of “this,” so I decided to use the two best tools at my disposal: the admiring confluence of my many friends and sarcasm.
First, I had to make a list of all of my friends. It took forever. I had to then cross off anyone that I did not really consider a “close friend.” After that, I had to cross off anyone that did not necessarily consider me a close friend (so long, Zuckerberg). After this, I had to make sure I was only going to speak to friends that have successfully turned thirty. And finally, of those that made the cut, figure who would actually want to talk to me about this: there were three people left on the list.
After speaking to my three smartest, thirty-year-old friends, the answers I received were quite surprising. The first call yielded a hard, very matter-of-fact philosophical truth: I didn’t care about turning thirty, I gotta go get my pregnant wife some Chinese food. The second call resulted in a very deep, metaphysical reaction: Yeah, no shit turning thirty is hard. Now, I’m late for my appointment with a counselor who counsels me before I meet with my job counselor who directs me towards an interview guru so I can get an appointment with the job service specialist who can get me an interview as a receptionist at a dental office. Very poignant. The third and final call did not yield as much information as I hoped: Who is this? (upon explaining who I was) Sorry guy, I’m not interested in your magazine. Hmmm.
So what did I conclude from my series of interviews with thirty-year-olds? Well, apparently I am giving this too much thought, that, and my friends are kind of dicks. But was I thinking about this too much? I don’t think so. To be honest, I really thought I’d be further along by April 30th, 2012. Don’t get me wrong, I have an amazing wife and a healthy family, all of which is supremely important. It’s just I thought I would have contributed more to the world by now. I thought I was going to be a professor at twenty eight (that didn’t happen, apparently you need a PhD for that); I thought my second book would be getting published this summer (apparently you have to have a “demographic” that will read your book before you get published); and I definitely thought I would be a thirty-year-old home owner (I’m blaming housing bubbles and 9/11).
But does this have to do with age at all or just my own lack of being able to do it? I don’t know, both?
The more I think about it – the more I break it down – this conundrum reveals itself to be a fairly layered one. There is definitely a generational facet to it. My generation is stuck between two eras: the era that developed internet and advanced computer systems, and the era that has mastered it to a degree that their contributions will eventually enslave all of us in the Future Robot Republic. And much of our generation got booted out of their jobs around 2008 and have had trouble getting them back. But I am definitely not counting us out. I am transposing the Class of 2000 against my own life cycle.
I was a perfectly behaved and successful child, some would say perfect (my mother). Junior High School was rough, High School was not that much better, but college was incredible. I hit my stride around twenty and definitely came back down around twenty-two. So I certainly cannot believe that I peaked at twenty-one because I am not Jimmy Hendrix. So, what if my generation’s cycle as a whole resembles this? I’m sure I have some compatriots that are very successful and would crushingly disagree with my hypothesis, but I will just call them outliers.
So I have a proclamation! The thirties will be eight to ten years of our twenty-first year. The thirties will be when we peak and continue to peak forever! After all, we must have done something right; we are an envied generation – if we weren’t then why does Hollywood keep remaking all of our movies (please, please leave Kindergarten Cop alone). So we may not all be Jimmy Hendrix, but at least we’ll be around to hear One Direction’s cover of Hey Joe.
Happy Birthday Class of 2000