What I Thought When I Turned 30


I wrote this when I turned 30.  It was interesting to leave my 20’s forever, and what I thought about it.  Anyone relate?

It’s February 15, 2007. Yesterday, was February 14th, Valentine’s Day, and thirty years ago yesterday I was born.

Thirty years. I have been alive for thirty years. That’s a horse pill to swallow. I haven’t processed it yet I don’t believe. I still feel like I’m 17, and in my mind, I think I am. I still live like I’m in college, act like a kid, and pursue the future with complete abandon, just as I always have. But while the road through my 20’s has been wild and hurtful and jovial, in the end, I have found myself. I know who I am, and I am excited to build on that foundation now.

But I wonder how far I’ve come, where I’ve been, and what today means now that I’m stepping out of the doorway between my 20’s and my 30’s. My friends and family are great. Whenever I feel unaccomplished, which for anyone who knows me well knows is all the time, they all quickly remind me that I have an MBA, that I’m intelligent, that I’m a model, that I’ve written two books, that I had the balls to uproot myself completely and suddenly and move to Los Angeles and New York City.

Truth is, none of that matters to me, in the least. I don’t use my MBA. I got the degree when I turned 23 and finished undergrad and was scared shitless of facing the world without the next step planned out for me (e.g., college). Looking back, what I learned from that time of my 20’s was this: let yourself be scared shitless, embrace it, and when your mind finally adjusts to the scared feeling, it’ll cope and move on. Thus, you have let yourself feel the emotion out and not bottled it up, and in the end, you grow, you find resolve, and you face what scared you. That’s what I learned from getting my MBA.

About being intelligent, that’s subjective, and I thank my friends and family for being kind enough to compliment me on that. But each person in my life is intelligent in his or her own way, and those people demonstrate their individual geniuses all the time, and each time, they impress me. I learned from that I should listen to the eyes and heart of a soul, and in being where they are, I will find an amazing person.

On being a model, I can only thank Mom and Dad for having a bit of fun thirty years ago, and God for waving the genetics wand over them.  lol  But also I thank those friends and family who pushed me to get over my fears of pursuing the future I wanted. How many times I said I wanted to get in front of the camera, but it’s not a real career, so who was I kidding. Even if I could get into it, I had NO self-esteem. I did not believe in myself at all. So, what I learned from entering modeling in my 20’s is this: Be at peace with who you are. If you don’t feel you’re attractive, then let yourself feel great about it. Be confident instead that it doesn’t matter. Because in the end, confidence is what opens doors. Attractiveness helps, but it’s not the end-all. And even more, attractiveness ends while confidence in who you are only improves with age.

Now, while I have written two books, and they were no small feat, they are still only imagination on paper in stacks on a table in my dining room. It’s like saying, ‘I bought all the stuff for the contractor to repair this room.’ Until I bring the manuscript to the publishers/agents, it’s just an empty room. Yes, I wrote two books, and I’m working on the third, but what I learned about writing in my 20’s is this: If you have a goal, and mine was to write at least one book, do it, no matter how hard it is, how much time you put into it because in the end you discipline yourself and reward yourself, and in that your character grows.

And, finally, on uprooting myself and moving all across the known universe, I’ve never been so sure that’s an accomplishment, though I can see why friends would call it such. Many have told me they wish they had the ability to pack up and leave, go where their dreams direct them. My first move was from grad school in Tulsa, OK, back to Cali, though not to Pismo Beach. To Los Angeles instead. That move was more out of total loathing for Tulsa. Hey, misery motivates, me at least. The second was an industry move. Go where the work is. So, yes, while I did move to two of the most expensive cities in the United States, what I learned from my nomadic tendencies in my 20’s is this: Follow your heart, follow your passion, go where your dreams flow, for if you don’t, you stagnate, and that only decays you.

I am freaked out about being 30, about how I’ll never be able to say I’m 20-whatever again, except on Myspace. haha But I’m going to let myself be freaked out. I’m gonna look back at my 20’s with sad nostalgia because in a way, it was a chapter of my life where I learned so much about the main character. Now that chapter’s over, and I still feel trapped in the emotions and plot line occurring there.

For now, I have put the book of my life down on the nightstand. I’m sitting up in bed, blanket pulled up, leaning against a soft pillow with only the warm yellow light from the lamp spilling over my right hand. The silver alarm clock ticks quietly and steadily, the only sound in the room. For my benefit, it slows its ticking, just long enough to let me dwell in the past one final time.

In the morning, figuratively, I’ll wake up, and I’ll be completely 30, and the little clock will be ticking a little quicker again, the book will be waiting to tell me how the main character’s life unfolds page by page, and I’ll always remember the lessons I’ve learned from my very painful, very awakening, and very heart-felt 20’s.

1) Feel all your emotions completely; don’t bottle them up; that way you are emotionally healthy, and you grow from the experiences.

2) Remember that everyone you meet is a genius, in his or her own way, as are you; be patient in getting to know them, savor each moment you speak to each other, listen to what their hearts are saying but their words are not, watch their eyes for clues to their burdens and joys. In the end, they will reward you with astounding friendship that last years, a rarity in this world.

3) Be confident. Easier said than done, so be a mess in a situation and push yourself to do the best you can in that situation, and feel great with yourself for doing all you could even if it fell apart. The next time you do it, you’ll surprise yourself with how much you learned from the last time, and any confidence you didn’t have, you now will. That’s how confidence lasts and where true attractiveness is rooted.

4) Get a goal, and if you have one, which you do, even if you don’t know what it is yet, pursue it wildly. Make a billion mistakes trying to, because in the end, you’ll see just how much each mistake was really a great way to become a better you. It sounds cheesy, yes, but it’s so unbelievably true. Mistakes are only mistakes if you see them that way. I choose not to see them that way. I see them as lessons that I can’t wait to learn because in them, I’ll fight, I’ll push, and I’ll grow, and in that I’ll win. And just maybe, I’ll attain my goal.

5) We are born with passions, but the world mutes them, and after a while we forget we have them. But sometimes those passions scream at us so loudly that we are compelled to listen. Listen. Hear your heart; do what it tells you. The choices you make may be frightening, but they are rewarding and exciting, and if you are pursuing your dreams, the costs are barely visible, as long as you stay true to yourself, keep building on yourself, and not compromising yourself.

I have found myself. I hope you find yourself. The road to you is rough and hard and full of holes, but step in the holes, fall down and scrape your knees, bleed, cry, slam your fists into the road, because you know the truth is that you’ll sit for a moment in pity, which you need to do, but then you’ll get up and keep stumbling forward, and in the end, you’ll get there.

You’ll reach your dreams. You’ll find yourself. And you’ll start a new chapter.

Like I said, I wrote this when I turned 30.  I felt very sentimental.  And much of what I wrote still holds, but it’s funny to think I’m here on this blog, and re-reading what I wrote 2 1/2 years ago, and how I’m trying to find myself again.  I found myself then, I think, because it was an effort to sum up the shit I endured in my pre-30’s.  But now, I face a different unknown, so I see that I have to find myself again.  That tells me I’ll likely be looking for myself for the rest of my life.  But I’ll also be finding myself, too, for the rest of my life.

I’m curious to know what I will think when I’m 100.  Because I WILL live to be 100.

© Copyright 2009 Matt Lawrence

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~ by Matt Lawrence on September 12, 2009.

3 Responses to “What I Thought When I Turned 30”

  1. I think it is safe to say that my 20’s were a bleeding of sorts for me. Bleeding, shedding, and understanding of myself and then some. If anything, my 20’s = hardcore building of self-confidence. Some aftershocks were felt at 30 and 31 but now at almost 32 and a half…my course correcting isn’t so chaotic. Nor am I a push over or people-pleaser anymore. THANK GOD.

    I believe our 30’s is the time where be become more grounded. We see the importance of things and keep a good percentage of FUN in our lives without being stupid or clueless. I like my thirties. It seems to be filled with sophistication and reflection with a hand reaching back to our childhood while we run forward to other adventures. We can rock this!

    • Yeah, I agree thoroughly. Sometime I find funny though is that I still feel like a college student. Part of me feels like that might not ever go away, like it’s maybe a personality trait, how I see life, etc. As for my 30’s, omg, I fucking love them. I like, too, how you phrased that last line. Thanks for your post!

  2. I hit 30 in two months. Crazy how the time flies! Mondays it is…and I’m a manager in that corporate world you love so much! 😉

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