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Dirty 30

"So how’s it feel to be 30?" they ask.

Friends, still smugly in their roaring 20s, and with years to go before their own big day, can be cruel. It’s not nice to be patted on the arm and called an ‘old man’. Jokes about impotence, incontinence, intolerance and biannual colon exams aren’t much fun either.

I expected more sympathy from my older friends, people who are already in their 30s, but they have been worse than the 20-year-olds. They know from their own experience that it’s not just another birthday, a meaningless milestone in our long and varied lives. It’s not the end of the world, they say, but it’s the end of something.

Thirty is where the buck stops. Thirty is when you run out of excuses.

In these modern times it’s perfectly acceptable to be young and irresponsible through your 20s, switching jobs, changing partners, moving towns, and partying until the break of dawn. You can live at home if you want, sleep until the afternoon, and eat sugar cereal in your bathrobe while watching cartoons. You can buy comic books without pretending they’re for a fictional nephew.

Older people humour the under 30, indulging our youthful inclinations while gently prodding us towards careers, homes, relationships and all of life’s little responsibilities. They know that you’re still finding yourself in your 20s, figuring out how you want to spent the next 40 years. There was never any rush. Until now.

Thirty is when you knuckle down, stop daydreaming and start living your life. If you don’t know who you are or what you want to do, then tough shit – 30 is old enough to know that life’s not fair.

At one minute to midnight, I was just another young adult with youthful tendencies, a late bloomer. One minute later, and suddenly I was immature, an arrested adolescent, a Peter Pan in search of a Neverland.

Admittedly, I put most of this pressure on myself because a long time ago I got it into my head that I would accomplish certain things before my 30 th birthday. In my teens I think I honestly expected to be married with children, living in a house, driving a car, paying a mortgage, and spending my free time walking the dog or napping in the hammock.

Obviously that dream was revised somewhat while in my mid-20s, and in every year leading up to the big 3-0, but even I was shocked to realize that none of my expectations have panned out. I don’t have a car. I don’t have a dog. I don’t even have a hammock.

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