I have been told various things by various different people: that the 30th birthday is a tough one; that the 31st is actually worse; that the 30’s are better than the 20’s; or that it’s the other way around; or that the 40’s are better then all of them; or far worse; or whatever.
No matter what I make of it, the fact of the matter is it’s here. I’m 30 years old. There’s no getting around it.
I think I’m supposed to have a nervous breakdown or a ‘my God what have I done with my life’ moment, but I think I may have already done that November of last year and that I came out the other end of it not really giving a damn, so I think I’m good there.
So, the imminent collapse of my self-worth temporarily postponed as it is, I thought I would share with you, my blog viewership of three, the wisdom of my three decades of existence. We’ll see how that compares with what wisdom is left after my fourth decade – provided blogs still exist and that we’re all still inclined to pontificate.
The most important life skill you can have is not the ability to get what you wants, nor is it the ability to make a plan and stick to it, nor is it the ability to talk your way out of anything, convince people of anything or to win arguments at all cost, nor is it the ability to think constructively or empathetically. Nor is it the ability to drive a stick shift. Some of those are generally useful. Some are even necessary. However, in my humble opinion, the supreme life skill that everyone needs to develop is the ability to deal with shit.
This might sound depressing, but it’s not.
You know what? Sometimes you get stuck in an elevator. Sometimes you work your ass off for a promotion or a new job or a part in a show that goes to someone else. Sometimes you date someone and things don’t go so well. Sometimes you do a show that nobody comes to. Sometimes your bus is running late and is crowded. Sometimes you forget to take the trash out and your apartment smells like trash when you come home. Sometimes you’re sick and there’s nobody to take care of you. Sometimes you have to sleep on a friend’s couch. Sometimes you forget your umbrella and rain coat and then it pours rain and then you’re soaked for the rest of the day. Sometimes your significant other’s family hates your guts. Sometimes the merchandise you ordered wasn’t shipped, or is damaged. Sometimes your burger has mayo on it when you specified no mayo. Sometimes you piss off your best friends, or they piss you off. Sometimes you let your family down. Sometimes your phone is out of battery. Sometimes your car won’t start. Sometimes you are broke. Sometimes you lose your job. Sometimes you have a job that you hate. Sometimes people disappoint you. Sometimes you are a disappointment to someone else. Sometimes your apartment building goes Condo and you have to find somewhere else to live. Sometimes your plane is stuck on the tarmac for hours and nobody will tell you why and then you miss your connecting flight and are stranded in St. Louis with a bag full of wine soaked clothes because a bottle of Chianti broke somewhere in Newark.
You could get pissed and go shout at someone, you could break down and cry or you could ask why, or why me? For the most part, though, I’ve found such things to be useless. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not above such reactions. In fact, I love to get pissed about certain things. But now, instead of getting wrapped up in the injustice of it all, I think to myself, ‘You know what? Shit.’ And then I deal with it, or I forget about it and I focus on trying to do the things I love to do (like eating bacon).
It seems like I know so many people who let the littlest things ruin their day, or who match their lives up to the expectations they had for themselves and let that paralyze them. Don’t worry if you don’t have that house yet or that retirement fund set up. If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that not even those mainstays of respectability and stability are guaranteed to be around for you. It’s the ability to handle adversity with grace that will see you through, and the ability to manage disappointment and to adapt.
Live your life and try to enjoy it. I’ll make that the focus of my thirties. We’ll see what forty brings when I get there.