On My 30th Birthday, 12 Things I Thought I’d Have Figured Out By Now

Turning Thirty

The worst part about turning 30 is the days and nights before turning 30. I just never imagined that entering a new decade would induce a full-blown identity crisis.

Should’ve I traveled more? Picked a different major? Accepted that job out of state? Should’ve I drank less? Drank more? Should I drink right now?

A lot happens in your twenties. You enter the era as some shithead teenager and exit some bill-paying, responsibility-having, big dick-swinging adult. It makes sense that the end of such a defining and transformative decade triggers a second guessing of EVERYTHING.

But what’s most terrifying is I’ve always assured myself that at 30 I’d have ALL the answers. No matter how many times I played the I’m In My Twenties card to slack off/be irresponsible/go out, it would be okay because when my twenties were over, by God, I would be on track…not even close.

But really, what fun is having it all figured out? On any given day I can do something life changing like quit my job to fulfill my lifelong dream of writing swear words on the Internet. I might succeed! Or I might fail so miserably that I’m exiled from my social circle and my wife leaves me for some prick with gainful employment. The fact that both could happen make the risk worth taking and life worth living. It’s not about having it figured out; it’s about figuring it out. So here now, in the spirit of ignorance, are 12 things I haven’t figured out at 30 years old.

Why am I still afraid of the dark? Now that I have real worries (my health, losing my job, failing as a father), you would think some of my make believe fears would go away. But they haven’t.

Sometimes I can’t even go downstairs after dark to retrieve a phone charger. Should I just leave it? My phone will die and my alarm won’t go off and I’ll miss work and get fired and we’ll lose the house and the dog will starve, but what choice do I have? I must remain safely upstairs on the off chance 5 half-dead ghost children are waiting to crawl out of the kitchen cupboards.  

Sometimes, I bring the dog with me. After you, buddy. I am a coward.

Where is my metabolism? Where in the hell did it go? I went on an insane health kick last year. For 140 days, I lived off chicken, spinach, and protein shakes. I pounded the weights and did phase 2 of Insanity verbatim. Have you done phase 2 of Insanity? Of course you haven’t. Nobody does phase 2 of Insanity, because phase 2 of Insanity is awful.

Anyway, if I followed this workout/diet combo when I was 22, I’d look like the 8th wonder of the world. At 29? I looked 8 weeks pregnant. I have reached a point where no amount of high intensity interval training can rid my body of its paunch and man boob fat. These are now permanent fixtures, no different than a foot or a finger, and that is a bummer.

Where are my dad skills? For Christmas my daughter got a Fisher Price swing, a heavy-duty plastic one made for a backyard playset but which we were going to hang from the rafters in our unfinished basement.

My dad was adamant that he help with the assembly, because a) he likes this stuff, and b) the thought of me (and me alone) engineering a structure that would suspend his 8 month old grandaughter 4 feet above a concrete basement floor was probably keeping the old man up at night.

Anyway, we were installing a 2×4, and for the life of me, I could not drill a screw in. I used a drill bit. I stood on a chair. I placed a few extra screws in my mouth and cursed through clenched lips. Nothing worked. It was hopeless.

My dad said the screws “were shit”, but I know he was just defending me from my own embarrassment or himself from his blatant failure as a father. I’m a dad now, so where are my dad skills?

When did I become so antisocial? When I was 17, a buddy of mine went out of town with his parents, so three other buddies and I did what any group of 17 year olds with half a brain between them would do: we broke into his house to crush 40s.

We couldn’t get in, however, because his mom engaged the slide lock on the garage door. But instead of going home, we crushed the 40s in the family’s broken down conversion van parked behind the house.

So there we were, four guys crushing 40s in a broken down van…if you’re living like a hobo for the sake of your social life — that is some dedication.

Now, however, you can’t get me out of the house. I don’t care if you’re partying at the Playboy Mansion, sipping lemon drops from Kate Upton’s cleavage. If I can’t be in bed by 10, I’m not going.

Why do I pee so much? So I hit 30 and suddenly my bladder has the permeability of a handful of sand?

When will my skin clear up? Why am I still popping zits like I’m in goddamn high school? Will the pores on my nose ever just close, or are they damned to be a blackhead feeding ground until I’m dead and the skin rots from my face?

Where are these moles coming from? And is this one raised? Because it feels raised. That’s bad, right? Oh God, is it cancerous? Should I see a doctor?

What’s with this heartburn? Am I doomed to a sleepless night of breathing fire every time I eat more than one spicy meat variety?

Am I getting hairier? Now, full disclosure: I’ve always been hairy. But until recently, there were clear-cut stopping points, like a tree line on a mountain. My question now is — is this going to stop? Because the urban sprawl up my triceps and asscheeks is really weighing on my self-image.

Where is my old man strength? I’m a hairy, moley, heartburn-ridden old man, so where in cripes’ sake is my old man strength? Can someone get the lid off these pickles?

Am I at greater risk for injury? Because it sure feels that way. Even in my mid-twenties I could play backyard football or take a digger out drinking with few repercussions. Now, I lift a leg too high ripping a fart, and I’m laid up for a week.

Why don’t I feel 30? The best part about turning 30 is that I don’t feel 30. Minor physical ailments aside, I’m as spry and boyish as ever, while intellectually I’m the same goddamn person. And you know what? I’ll take it. If dick jokes and foul language will keep me from growing into some crusty old asshole, then gimme all the immaturity I can handle. I’ll figure things out when I’m 40.

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