“Getting eerily closer to 30.”
This is what a close friend of mine said after I wished him a happy birthday recently. He’s not alone in this fear. Whether it’s truly scary to him or not, I know most people in their 20s think of hitting 30 as old.
I don’t feel this way in the slightest bit. I actually feel like an insanely smart 17yr old in my head and I have no reason to expect that feeling to fade away in 5 months when I hit 30.
So I started digging into that. Why don’t I fear turning 30? Why am I not afraid to grow older?
Turns out, it has a lot to do with ole Ben Frank a decade ago.
Back when I was 19 I came across a Benjamin Franklin quote that immediately solidified how I approach my life:
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
And while I have attempted writing something worth reading these last couple of years, the main strategy has been to make decisions that lead to an interesting life.
An interesting life lived with agency requires you to do things…..that interest you.
Crazy I know.
Everything from the jobs I pick, the places to live, the major to study, the friends to have, the rabbit holes to go down - all of it stems from that inspiring idea from B Frank.
Instead of staying local for college, I moved further away to see new things. Instead of getting a degree in nursing for the money, I went with neuroscience because I was curious. Instead of playing it safe after our newborn post-graduation, we set off on an adventure. Instead of sticking with the first secure job I snagged 2,000+ miles from home, I ditched it for the more exciting cannabis job. Instead of settling for less at any of the crossroads, I’ve sped off towards the more interesting path every single time.
And it hasn’t been all rainbows either. Shit is hard. Hard as hell at times, but so so so much more worth knowing I’m in my own lane, paving my own way.
The world feels more alive when you do what brings you autonomy & purpose. When you feel more connected with who you’re becoming instead of just reacting to what arises out of the mundane.
There’s actually a straightforward exercise you can do right now to connect with who you’re becoming.
I’ve talked about Active Imagination before, but usually it’s fairly freestyle with the different parts of you that you call in. This one is a bit different because you’re taking the time to speak with an older version of yourself. Since I’m rounding the corner for 30, I chatted with my 40yr old self about the coming decade ahead. And it went great. I’ll share a snippet from what my 40yr old told me:
“Soak up where you’re at too though. Today is equally as important as tomorrow. No need to put one above the other. Today is important because, well, first off, that’s where you’re at, but also because that’s where you can enact change of many sort. It’s where rubber hits the road. Where actions can be taken or not taken. Tomorrow is just as important. It’s where you decide ahead of time what you want, what you don’t want, where you’re headed, and where your hopes & dreams & fears & worries tend to reside. If you lived only for today, you’d lack trajectory (when you’re in a place that needs upgrading in some aspects). If you lived only for tomorrow, you’d miss out on all your current blessings and miss the opportunity to even have a say in what’s to come with what you do.”
Pretty wild how something like this can come out of an imaginary conversation.
If you’re wondering what this exercise looks like, I just open up a notes doc and start writing out the conversation between us. It’s easy to tell who’s who, but a tip is to make either you or older you have all CAPS. Then it’s really easy to see the dialogue play out when you review it.
Simple exercise, profound benefit with some practice and I’ve barely scratched the surface.
Turns out there can be a lot of overlap between building design and building a life. John Ruskin (unknowingly perhaps) tells us how to live life better.
It's never too late to stumble upon an underlying principle of reality. (Especially one that can be put to use immediately)