Turning 30 isn't the death sentence I thought it would be

by Bryan Kelly

I recently turned 30, and I must say…

I now realize that, for years, I had my head so far up my ass that I could have easily performed my own colonoscopy!

See, while in college, I had friends who had always known what they wanted to do when they grew up. Hell, the only thing I had always known was that I didn’t want to grow up. Grown-ups worked at jobs I didn’t understand, paid lots of bills and drove sedans. And those were just the 25-year-olds! As for 30-year-olds? Forget it! If that’s 25, then better to be dead than 30!

During college I certainly didn’t think about what I’d do after college. But the next thing I knew, someone slapped me on the back and handed me a diploma. Just like that I was ceremoniously cast from the comfort of the academic womb.

Long story short, after college I putzed around for a while before caving in and getting a “grown-up” job. Though my interests lay with the written word, I cowered at the prospect of an unpredictable career. So I packed away my pen and pad like out-of-season clothes and gave up uncertainty’s sweets for a daily diet of safe and practical.

Well, a few raises and several questionable hook-ups later and I was approaching 30 – yep, a job I still don’t completely understand and lots of bills.

As for the sedan…

Guilty as charged. However, in my defense, I contend that there is something fundamentally un-grown-up – dare I say even edgy, in a wannabe rock star kind of way – about a smokin’ hot ’91 Accord with 148,000 miles and no paint on its roof.

Yeah, you’re jealous.

Staring down the barrel of a 30th birthday, I could either stick to my earlier instincts by offing myself, or redefine what I knew of 30. Perhaps going against my better judgment, I chose the latter. Here’s why:

In a dream on the eve of my birthday, I was haunted by the memory of a mighty antagonist from my adolescence – King Koopa, of Super Mario Brothers. Only too well do I remember the many hours I spent battling that beast. Oh, how his arsenal of metal and flame did vex me!

Many a time did I toss the Nintendo controller in disgust, and many a time did I violate all virgin ears within a one-mile radius with an assault of four-letter expletives.

Ahhh, but thankfully, I had an ally – the ‘reset’ button. Each time Koopa stole my last life, I simply pressed the ‘reset’ button. Bury a hammer in my Mario skull? No worries! Reset. Burn my butt with a fireball? No worries! Reset.

Though the score read ‘0’ after each reset, I was hardly empty-handed. Instead, I arrived armed with renewed vigor, a rejuvenated sense of hope and the knowledge I gained from my previous failed attempt.

When I awoke from the dream, it suddenly became clear to me. . .

Thirty is nothing to fear! It ends in ‘0’; it’s a zero score – a push of life’s ‘reset’ button. My thirties, I decided, will be a second chance to get my twenties right. Cause, believe me, I botched ‘em like Tara Reid’s boob job.

Just as I attacked Koopa after a reset, so too will I attack my second twenties – with renewed vigor, a rejuvenated sense of hope and the knowledge I gained from my previous failed attempt.

Enough with the bland certainty of a safe and practical palate! I’m ready to indulge in the sugary highs and lows of a life lived doing what I love. From now on, a pen and pad will be my all-season attire.

And why not? On average, we each live roughly eight decades. If we each botch one of our decades, so what. Seven out of eight is still a solid ‘B’! So if you find that you’ve fouled up one of your decades, reach for your life’s ‘reset’ button too.

But here’s hoping I won’t need my forties to be a third chance to get my twenties right, ‘cause I am not a ‘C’ student.

Born and raised in the south, Bryan is a closeted writer trapped in the career of a software designer, and after thirty years of dreaming of all the wrong destinations, he's finally ready to simply enjoy the journey.

Photo courtesy of Jose Cuervo

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