Friday 10 January 2003

So, this is how it feels to be thirty

I always thought the age thirty was a place other people went to, not me.

From a youth filled perspective, thirty looked like a glamorous place. I imagined that come thirty I'd be a confident professional of indeterminate occupation, immeasurably successful, simultaneously engaging in deeply earnest adult conversations with my interestingly grown-up friends and tousling the hair of an awestruck young nephew. My foibles would have long been ironed out by a gentle maturation, I would be able to achieve anything.

And by and large I suppose I've achieved my imaginings, I am a successful professional, I can hold earnest conversations with friends who are now all over 25, the only thing I lack is the awestruck young nephew. But thirty as a glamorous destination has been ruined by the presence of all the extra life baggage that unexpectedly came with me; I like Pickled Onion Monster Munch, I play videogames, I laugh at toilet humour, I show no sign of starting a family.

In The Art of Travel, de Botton writes of how daydreams of upcoming holidays never match the reality as the dreams always fail to account for your actual presence. The experience of lying on the sun-kissed beach beneath warm blue skies is spoilt by hunger or a nagging concern about the most recent haircut. The same seems to apply to being thirty. Despite the gap between my birth date and today's date implying that I'm more grown up than I've ever been, I still have difficulty matching shirts and ties, I don't like Brussel sprouts, I can't kick a football very hard.

That said, I don't seem to be having a particularly major crisis about it, partly because I've spent the last six months mentally ticking the next box on demographic forms so this January 9th wouldn't come as a wrench and partly because I've seen many friends step through thirty and beyond and remain happily themselves. I've looked both right and left and right again and I'm ready to step off the kerb, although there's a big chance I've missed something in my hurried glances and could yet get hit by a truck marked "Life Crisis".

Others have written more eloquently than I about this milestone.

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