I’m turning 29 tomorrow, and it’s bothering me a lot more than any previous birthday has.
Generally I’m very happy about birthdays. There’s cake, presents, an excuse to indulge my whims, usually good friends and family, and did I mention the cake? However, this birthday feels different.
Turning 29 puts me so close to 30, that saying “I’m in my 20s” is just making a mockery of what your 20s really are. I’m a pale shadow of myself in my 20s. As I’m racing into my 30s, I can’t help but to look back over my 20s, the real 20s anyhow, and feel that I’ve dropped the ball somehow. I’m out of shape, I can’t decide if I’m going bald or grey first, I don’t go out clubbing, I don’t hang out with my friends frequently, and in the past 6+ years, I’ve mostly hung out at home with my wife. Hanging out with my wife makes me very happy, make no mistake, but I can’t help but feel my youth is beyond my grasp now.
I used to go out dancing 3-4 nights a week, and then hit Rocky Horror every Saturday to see some friends. On nights I wasn’t at a club, I could be found shooting pool, or at the movies, or just driving around for the fun of it. It was rare I was in bed before 2 AM, and I was always up in time for work the next morning, no problem! My friends and I would trade MP3s of yet-to-be released albums of hot new bands. I was knee deep in every emerging computer and network phenomenon way before anyone else. I setup an 802.11 wireless network back when there was only one company you could buy the hardware from, and they were in Canada. I could eat whatever I wanted and still fit in 32″ jeans. I once blew an entire paycheck on sunglasses. My car could never be fast enough. I almost tried to book BT and an entire club for my birthday party.
And now I know that getting into great shape is only going to get harder and harder. If I make it out a club, now I’m the “old guy”. I’m married, I own a house, I have a pet. I can’t take off for Buenos Aires for a month or two. I have no idea who the hot current bands are. I want those damn kids to get off my lawn. I drive slowly and don’t honk. I’m building up savings and working on my retirement account. My next big spending spree is probably going to be a new toilet. I’m tired a lot. I don’t “get” twitter, or Facebook applications, or mashups, or 1/2 the web 2.0 sites out there. I have no idea what the next cutting edge tech is. I have two friends coming to my birthday party.
It’s not all doom and gloom. I love my wife. I like owning a house. I’m more mature. I’ve done some great things work-wise.
But I can’t help but feel that I’m missing out. That I’m slow, and tired, and old. And that it’s only going to get worse.
Sure, I can try to fight it. I can work out every day, and eat only healthy stuff. I can force myself out to the club more. But every day I get older, the workout gets harder, and I’ll be more prone to putting on weight. Every day I get older, I’m that much further removed from the rest of the kids in the club.
It’s depressing to realize that the days of not having to worry about what I eat, the days of 100% carefree actions, the days of having too many social opportunities available, the days of driving all night and just talking with your friends, the days of not worrying about money and bills and retirement, the days of thinking “I can put my laptop in my backpack, head to the airport, and go anywhere”, the days of feeling like a rockstar, are all gone.