And so I’ve passed that critical milestone. Like millions before me, I have survived my twenties. My feet now firmly planted in adulthood, I reflect on my partially squandered youth. I think about my accomplishments, the things of which I’m most proud. And, of course, I think about my failings. I am not famous. I am not well-liked. I am not gainfully employed. I don’t get enough protein. I spent too much time on the Internet. I do not call my mother. I am not what I envisioned I’d be at this point.
Some life-long goals have been met. A few dreams were realized. Nothing achieved without compromise. I left my small hometown with chest puffed and hat tilted forward, muttering “I’ll show them! And how!” I don’t know what I intended to show. Whatever Big Plans I had to prove myself to imaginary naysayers have been discarded and forgotten.
In the modern world, youth comes with great curiosity about the world but it also comes with an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement. When we’re young, we imagine that we will change the world. In my own youth, I was so certain that, one day, people would be impressed with my talents, my wit, my beauty. Now I see that I am merely adequate. I am competent in my skill set, but thousands more far excel in talent and knowledge. I am not a whiz or a hotshot or a super star in my field(s). No one has been immediately won over by my work.
I’m not struggling to remain relevant because I was never completely relevant in the first place. Absent are the urges to decorate my body with tattoos and superfluous piercings. I have been fortunate enough to retain enough of my youth (in appearance, at least) that I don’t feel the need to go chasing after it. In fact, I get so many unwarranted comments about how young I look, I should write an article or a book on my secrets. Turning 30 means I’m officially old enough to take it as a compliment when middle-aged women coo about how young I look. But if someone wants to call me ma’am, I won’t protest too much.
I have learned, in the grand scheme of things, that I am insignificant. The words I publish on a blog or my silly little robot drawings will not have an impact on the world. They will not cure cancer. They will not influence politics. They will not inspire greater works of art.
Okay, so I’m insignificant. But I still exist. Now is the time to make peace with all the things I am not. It is the time to seek approval from within. It is time to appreciate life as it is, to recognize that things aren’t so terrible, really. This does not mean my life will be all granola and wind chimes, zen gardens and bamboo tunics.
My youth was plagued with multiple failures but few regrets. If given the opportunity to return to the past and alter events, I’d probably reject the idea in favour of watching videos of Maru. Anyway, I’m not sure that anything in the past could be tinkered with to prevent my random spurts of adult acne or sciatic pain.
These days my chest is a little deflated and my hat sits perfectly centered atop my noggin. The challenge in this new decade will be to balance the negative with the positive, while never forgetting the other exists. I’ll continue to recount my failures so we can both see where things went astray, while also entertaining you with drawings of silly robots and passing fancys. I will still spend an exorbitant amount of time on the Internet.