I turn 30 later this month.
Which is a weird feeling – retiring from my 20s. The past decade was a harsh teacher. Especially the first half.
Over the past 10 years, my life has taken quite a few twists and turns from what I originally expected.
By most accounts from my teenage and early-20s something, I’m a failure. I did not – nor am I on my way to becoming – a pediatric neurosurgeon. Nor a corporate finance attorney.
I’m on quite a different path. A path I didn’t know existed a decade ago.
Where my life and career are not a function of expectations – or a false sense of obligation. Rather, I have agency over the design of both. Which is freeing. But also comes at a high cost.
The weight I carry today somehow feels lighter and heavier than the weight I carried a decade ago.
Part of that is the sheer challenge of attempting to build a life and career on my own terms – rather than opting for the conveyor belt, assembly line version most people settle for.
Another part is the weight of responsibility. Which is probably the starkest contrast between who (and what) I am today compared to who (and what) I was 10 years ago.
The Big “R” Word.
It’s easy to shirk off responsibility for everything that happens to you when you don’t have a purpose in life.
That was me entering my 20s. Somebody who liked to point fingers. And play the victim card all too often. Even though I fancied myself as someone ambitious, assertive, and self-reliant.
But I wasn’t really. Defaulting to the traditional path as a plan for my life stole my agency from me. It freed me from the burden of critical thinking about what to do with my life – and more importantly, who I should become.
As I approach 30, I recognize many of the errors of my youth. Some are quite embarrassing. Even if useful lessons.
I also recognize the opportunity of the present – and my responsibility for whatever time I have left. To make more of myself than I was yesterday. More of myself than I was a decade ago. And more of myself tomorrow than I am today.
After all, what hope do we have in growing old if not that we’re getting better with time?