Turning 30

Turning 30 is a big deal for a lot of people me.

For the past couple years, I’ve done an annual recap around my birthday.

  • At 25, I wrote down 25 lessons I learned about people
  • Couldn’t find anything I wrote on my 26th. Guess I didn’t learn anything that year.
  • I started off 27 by getting gum surgery on my birthday (stupid). But the rest of the list is full of personal lessons about relationships & communication
  • 28th bday – also didn’t write anything. I guess I made my laziness into a pattern to skip even years.
  • At 29, I wrote another 29 lessons learned. I got more meta writing about mental frameworks.

I knew that I was going to fall in either one of two camps as I wrap up the defining decade:

Camp 1: Life is 100% perfect and showering me with double rainbows. Turning 30 is NBD. I’ll post on Facebook #blessed and how much more comfortable I am in my skin etc etc.

Camp 2: There are still areas of my life that need a lot of work. I’ll say things like “age is just a number” to make myself feel better and hide my anxiety about never being able to qualify for “30 under 30” lists. Ever.

If you’re like me, the second camp hits close to home: why does 30 feel that much more significant?

The world is dominated by the decimal system, so increments of ten like 30, 40 and 50 feel more significant than 29, 39, 49.

Even numbers also have a sense of completion, so in a way I’ve carried over that pressure of  completing more goals by the time I’m 30.

When I was younger, I judged older people if it seemed like they haven’t “figured their shit out.” Now I realize I was just projecting my values that people should become more successful over time. No wonder I created pressure for myself.  But the world isn’t so binary.

Researchers Paul Costa and Robert McCrae wrote this in a book about aging:

From about age 18 to 30, people tend to become more neurotic, more introverted, and less open to new experiences; they also tend to become more agreeable and more conscientious.

From 30 on, most people reach more stable lives:

It’s not that personality is fixed and can’t change…but it’s relatively stable and consistent. What you see at 35, 40 is what you’re going to see at 85, 90.

I certainly don’t hope for a personality change now. That would be too much chaos. But I hope what this means for me is that I’m more consistent while staying open minded.

As I turn 30, I’d like to reflect with a better question.

Instead of asking myself what should I have accomplished by 30? I ask myself: How have I gotten to know myself better this past year?

Last year, I got more objective

Luckily, I started off the year by reading Principles by Ray Dalio. The big idea I received from the book is the importance of objectivity. To know myself better, I need to cultivate self awareness to identify my own blind spots.

This made me think about biases that prevent me from seeing a more truthful version of events, whether that’s judging others, being defensive or making up my mind too quickly about another person’s morality.

If Principles (along with Jordan Peterson and Jonathan Haidt, were the gateway drugs to objectivity, then attending Landmark Forum was the hard trip.

Before the seminar, I thought I was a responsible person. But the Landmark Forum taught me what true responsibility looked like.

In the past, I might have said “I was wrong,” then add a lot of bullshit like “but you also did XYZ” or “I already knew that” when someone tries to give me advice.

Now the same conversation looks like “I was wrong. I did this to you, and I’m sorry. What was that experience like for you?”

Instead of volleying negative events back to circumstance or someone else, taking full responsibility was…freeing. I can’t believe how long my ego was protecting me from living in full responsibility.

It’s a way of living without excuses.

This lead to setting up “mini minds” with friends to help keep each other accountable. These sessions are often challenging and therapeutic. As I explain why I did or didn’t do something, the underlying reason unravels.

In 2018, I got more practice preaching and practicing these ideas:

  • “Is that really true? How do I know that to be true?”
  • Trust, but verify.
  • “Did I actually try or ask?” Because asking is free

This year, I’m going deeper

As I reflected on my life up to 29, I noticed one theme… I flirted with many careers and projects. I’ve always tried to find balance when I should’ve been going deep. Going deep by giving something a real shot, and being committed to a cause. As a result, I’ve…

I felt it this year – whenever I’ve gone deep, I’ve felt more in flow. Which makes me happier.

This is one of the new questions I’ll be asking myself:

What areas of my life do I want to develop more depth in?

The answer was simple. Go deeper in my writing and relationships with people.

Other fun lessons & experiences this year

Waking up earlier. I finally learned that half the equation is having a reason to wake up. The other half is stupid simple. I figured out that if I put my phone (my alarm) in the restroom – and just stay there for 3 minutes – I’ll be able to wake up. I changed the relationship from “ugh I gotta get up “ to “Wash your face. Pee. Brush your teeth.”

Dependencies. When I get overwhelmed, it’s because I create too many dependencies between things that are, at best, loosely associated. Here’s an example of an insane thought pattern:

I want to make more money. Maybe I should blog more. Should I blog about a niche that makes me more money? Does that mean I have to become a budgeting master? Maybe I should learn Youtube because that’s a great traffic source. I don’t have a decent camera though.

What started off as one desire (“make more money”) turned into a weird excuse (“I don’t have a nice camera”). Unchecked, my mind can create dependencies, inroads to nowhere but stuckness. The best antidote I’ve found for this is meditation.

New Favorite Alcoholic Drink

If I have to drink, I want it to be 0 sugar and carbs. I’ve always enjoyed gin & tonic, until I discovered that tonic water has a ton of sugar. Now I order it with diet tonic water or soda water.

In Madrid (where ginebra is super popular), gin & tonic is often served with cucumbers on the rocks, which makes this drink scientifically 2x better to consume. It’s not served with cucumber by default in the States, but is usually available when requested.

Jealous of Madrid

I hail from LA, where the car is king and people are allergic to walking. Once I visited Madrid, I became immediately jealous of the city’s walkability, street culture, parks and public spaces. I see myself living in a city like Madrid in the future.

Big Gigantic Blew Me Away

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is an amazing concert venue, and Big Gigantic threw an amazing set combining live performance, electronic music and 3D adventures fused together.

Ecstatic Dance is freeing

I writhed around on the floor at Ecstatic Dance Santa Cruz. It was my first time doing this type of dance, which promotes self expression, silence, and safe spaces for both men and women (read: no creepers).

My favorite purchase of 2018

Considering the amount of coffee and tea that I drink, I can’t believe it took me this long to purchase a hot water dispenser. My life was infinitely improved afterwards. Get yourself one if you make your own hot beverages at home.

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