Usually on News To Live By, I highlight career advice in top headlines. This time, the story is a bit more personal: On January 9, I turned 30.
Ten whole years come and gone. Sure, I learned a lot and grew as a person (pretty sure I hit all 15 milestones we should reach by age 30). But still: What the hell happened to the past decade?
I entered my twenties an unattached college sophomore and leave a married man with a house and mortgage. Scattered reports also mention flecks of gray hair, but that remains widely unconfirmed.
As I say goodbye to such a formative decade, here's what I'll miss.
1. Winter and summer breaks
I can't even fathom a three- or four-week vacation twice a year. That actually happened in college? Really?
If I get an entire week off from work, I barely know what to do with myself. You mean... I can do whatever I want... for seven whole days?
What's the catch?
2. I'm not even close to being a recent college grad
I finished college eight years ago. I no longer have younger friends still at school who will let me crash on their couch when I come back to campus.
At 30, I'm now the random alum who needs his own lodging and feels way too old in college bars.
A frat party? I might as well be someone's dad.
3. No one is going to cut me any slack
Never again will someone say, "Oh, it's OK. He's in his twenties figuring stuff out."
Out too late partying mid-week at 23? Typical young person. Hungover on a Wednesday in my 30s? Get it together, buddy.
4. Sports injuries actually healed
At the start of my twenties, I could toss my body around like a ragdoll. No injury too damaging or long-term. Now, a tweaked ankle seems like it requires a good four to six weeks to heal.
I drink plenty of milk -- what gives?
5. Impressing simply because I'm a rookie
"Wow, look at the young guy. What a go-getter!"
...said no one ever about people in their 30s.
6. 2:30 a.m.
In college, I barely ever fell asleep before 2:30 a.m. Now I can hardly remember the last time I saw that time on the clock.
7. Cheap beer that tastes like lightly-flavored tap water
Wait... I'll never miss that chapter of my twenties. You know, when $11.99 for a 24-pack of Milwaukee's Best felt like the deal of the century. Everyone, tonight the beer pong is on me!
Bring on the craft brews, Old Fashioneds, Glenfiddich and all those "sophisticated" drinks no one touches until they eclipse 30.
8. Being really up on pop music
The past decade, I had a solid handle on most pop songs and up-and-coming bands. Now I go on Spotify and find myself listening to all the music I enjoyed during college and my twenties. Yea, I see the "Discover" button in the top left, but... meh.
I'll stick to what I know.
9. Mario Kart 64
Back in the day, my college buddies and I played that game all the damn time. I was Princess Peach, and I was unstoppable.
No, I can't... I won't... I mustn't abandon Mario Kart in my thirties. It's time to dust off the controller and hit the Rainbow Road.
10. The grind
We all work absurd schedules in our twenties. At one point, I had three different part-time jobs back-to-back that stretched from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. As a news reporter, I also worked a 3:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m shift. That one sucked.
My routine is more consistent now (in other words: during daylight), and I look back on those wacky hours like badge of honor. I propelled myself into the career meat grinder and came out unscathed -- in fact, I'm probably more seasoned because of it.
Does anyone else who had (or still has) a hectic work schedule relate to that feeling?
11. Greasy drunk food
Early twenties, a hardcore Wendy's late-night run was a staple of my weekend diet. Mid-twenties, the occasional indulgence. Late twenties... man, I do not want to feel like that tomorrow.
Although, the more I write this section, the more I want a Jumbo Slice from Adam's Morgan at 1 a.m. on a Saturday. All you D.C. people know exactly what I'm talking about.
12. Beach Week
Finish college exams. Hit the road. Rent a house near the ocean, cram way too many people in it and throw a weekend-long boozefest.
Beach Week is a drunken mess. Then again, so is 22 years old. If I could only go back...
13. Knowing the latest cool thing
It's an unspoken bond among 20-somethings: We inherently know the latest and greatest gadget or fad, and older folks must come to us and plead "Teach us the ways!" How many times have you tried (and failed) to explain hashtags to your mom? #Exactly
Then last week I saw an article about Keek, which is apparently a new video-sharing service. I had never heard of it, probably because I am now outside the young-person bubble. Can a 23-year-old please explain Keek to me? I'm begging you!
Aaaand... I just became my parents.
14. Crappy furniture
Sure, I like to own nice things, but furnishing an apartment used to be so easy, right? Hmm, let's see... random couch from Craigslist, posters from college, mishmash of lamps and coffee tables from old roommates and... yep, all done.
At 30 (and as a new homeowner), I need to step up my game and interior decorate like I mean it. I guess that means more conversations like the one below. Pretty nice little Saturday!
15. Not sweating my retirement and 401(k)
I certainly tried to sock away money for retirement in my twenties, but I didn't really think about it all that much. As I round the bend and enter 30, the long-term savings matter more and more.
Better believe Social Security won't be much help when our generation does retire.
16. Sleeping anywhere
Bed? Couch? Floor? In our twenties, it doesn't matter.
Once a house party fizzled out, any open piece of floor doubled as a bed. Now that I'm 30, I prefer an actual mattress and try to avoid the "random couch-no blankets" situation. But the "pass out anywhere" mentality sure made my twenties easier.
17. Boozy brunches
Ah, those lazy weekends with nothing to do except waltz into a favorite brunch spot at noon and order mimosas until 4 p.m.
I fear those days are behind me now. Sundays just seem to get way too busy.
As much I bemoaned throwing rent checks into a black hole month after month, it sure was nice to call a landlord when an appliance went on the fritz. Now the malfunctioning dryer will remain a malfunctioning dryer until I do something about it.
Just kidding. No one misses fetching coffee, making copies and working for "experience" rather than cash. I can happily leave those days in the past.
20. Being able to say, "Well, at least I'm not 30."
For everyone hitting the big 3-0 this year, do we take the lessons of our twenties and apply them the next 10 years? How will life change between now and 2024? Wow... that seems so far away.
Let's be clear: I am hopeful, not depressed, about this milestone. I can close the door on my twenties and feel I did them justice. One thing I do know: if things don't seem to be panning out in my thirties, I can always take a deep breath and remember:
"Well, at least I'm not 40."
What else makes our twenties so great? Share below!