Eclectic Autodidact: Half-birthday takes away sting of age


Today is my half birthday. Normally, I don't do much to commemorate semi-anniversaries beyond half of a baked good of some sort. Focusing on fractions more than that tends to lead one down the road to becoming a Batman villain. This year, however, I'll be mixing it up. As I'll be turning 30 in March, I've decided to, instead of putting off thinking about it until the last minute, spread my nervous breakdown out over six months until it is a barely noticeable deviation from my usual ticks.

So right now, I'm trying to see what I have to show for having been a human for 30 years. I can't really compare my life with where I thought I'd be at this point because I've never really planned my life out that far in advance. I tended to answer "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" questionnaires with either a vague "Space Pirate, maybe?" or a doodle of a robotic octopus attacking New York.

I also can't really compare my place in life with any of my old friends, largely because I haven't really kept up with anyone from high school or college, so I don't know where I am comparatively. I am officially the World's Worst Correspondent, or at least it would be official, but I never got around to sending back the form I needed for the certificate.

Maybe I should throw together a quick checklist to see what I've accomplished and what remains to be done before I can turn 30 with good grace and accept my youth is behind me. And before anyone chimes in to tell me that 30 is still young, I will point out that when you've lived for over one-third of the average human life expectancy you really can't be considered young anymore. Sorry to burst anyone's bubble.

These goals are a mixture then of things that I wanted to accomplish before I turned 30 and things that, while maybe not goals ahead of time, are things I'm glad I've done before I got old.

Goals for before I turn 30:

Still be alive. Check!

Graduate college. Check. For given definitions of "college," "graduate," and "check."

Dive out of a building as it explodes behind me -- this was on the list from high school. I've watched a lot of Mythbusters since then, and I'm kinda glad I haven't done that now that I understand the physics involved a little better.

Write a novel. Check.

Hike through New Zealand. Unfortunately, this isn't going to happen. I've made my peace with that and decided this can be something to look forward to for my 30s.

[Redacted] Check. Some of these are kind of personal, but let's just say BIG check.

Be able to play an instrument. Sort of. I've only been holding steady on guitar lately, not actually doing anything to improve. I can also only play one song from memory. By the time I'm 30, I hope to have, let's say, half a dozen songs in my head.

Play Macbeth. Check.

Play Hamlet. Nope. And that doesn't look like it's going to happen as my principle acting days are behind me and playing the part after a certain age just becomes a creepy vanity project.

Be able to speak a foreign language. I've been letting my Spanish atrophy, which makes me feel bad. I didn't have the time to take another class this fall, so I have to keep up on my own. Of course that means I've done nothing in ages. But maybe I can pull it back to a conversational level before I hit treinta.

Backpack through a foreign country. Check. And without getting mugged or catching any diseases.

Go three days without sleep. No. This was something I wanted to do since college, but I never was able to schedule the right block of time for it. I don't think I'll get to now as it's the sort of project you want to try when you have a schedule that lets you go a few days without operating a motor vehicle.

Jump off something high into water. It wasn't a waterfall and I wasn't being chased by bounty hunters, but still check.

I guess some of this is just painting the target after the arrow has been shot, but I wasn't really aiming to begin with. My main goal is to turn 30 without freaking out about how my youth is over. Really, you're only as old as you feel and I've felt old since the second grade, so this shouldn't be too much of a change for me.


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