I recently hit that over-the-hill marker known as being 30 years old. While the milestone doesn’t carry the same emotional or cultural weight as it used to — adults play in dodgeball league and wear footie pajamas, for example — it is still a nice, round number. Comedian Patton Oswalt believes it also warrants a birthday celebration based on his birthday rules (no more until 40, though).
Despite what most reality television leads you to believe, humans have the ability to think about their experiences and behavior, noting the causes and effects of their actions. And because I survived more than 10,950 days out of my mom’s womb, I thought that I would commemorate the occasion with reflection. I determined what I want to accomplish in the next 10 years based on my first 30, and I hope to be a better man by the time (future president?) Oswalt mandates my next birthday party.
My 10 goals for my 30s:
- To graduate with my master’s degree: Earning my bachelor’s degree was a big step, helping launch my career and being the first male in my family to commence. Still, I had plans to enter grad school when I was ready, and I enrolled last fall with the hope of earning an Administration degree, and I want to oversee employees — being a mentor and a good steward — with my writing and learned leadership skills. It is a large undertaking and I want to be able to wear the commencement gown and mortar board once again.
- To start a family: This has been a goal of mine since I was 10 years old, drafting and passing out wedding invitations around my house of my pending nuptials to my fourth-grade crush. (I would move on from her a few months later.) I desire to have a family more than the grad degree, but my wishes have been tempered and altered in the 20 years since planning that first marriage. I still want to be married and have rugrats, but a combination of factors — low dating track record, self-esteem and self-confidence issues, fear of opening up my heart — has me thinking of alternatives, like adoption and foster care parenting. Whatever does happen, I have the love and compassion to be a parent, and while I know that there will be plenty of unexpected surprises that will sometimes make me curse, doubt myself and go into shock at the sight of a nasty diaper, I really want this to happen.
- To live in an awesome city: I like Phoenix, Arizona. It is home to the best job I’ve had at the best company I’ve worked for. I have good friends here. It is home to a wonderful improv comedy organization (The Torch Theatre) that nurtured my interest in the art through classes and a welcoming community. And the weather is great when it isn’t soul-sucking hot. That said, many of the citizens are less than friendly (aloof and not interested in forming bonds — natives and refugees to the area), their values are less than desirable (you can learn everything from a single pickup truck: political views, NASCAR fandom, church home, preferential tattoo parlor, automaker preference and other forms of personal expression), lack of culture (there is a severe lack of independent movie theaters and other outlets for art — though they are growing), dumbfounding stupidity, and did I mention the heat? I plan to live in a place where I don’t fear for my safety due to my political thoughts and race and the general horrific driving that occurs. Like all of these goals, this could change.
- To be more confident in and comfortable with myself: This is something that is a continuous process, and it is definitely one to concentrate on. I’ve made no bones on the personal things I want to improve about myself, and I plan to continue. It’s not an easy process, and it is never complete. Still, getting more comfortable with myself is a goal to focus on.
- Improving my writing: Like working on my confidence, evolving as a writer is a lifelong process. For any artist, comparing past work with current output reveals growth in skills and expression. Through reading other writers and honing my craft, I plan to do the same.
- Being a good family member: My family is the most important thing in my life, though I tend to lose sight of that at times due to distance and things overwhelming my man-brain (because we can only focus on boobs or beer, AMIRITE guys?!). In the next 10 years, I want to strengthen my connections to my flesh and blood through physical and digital communication.
- Being a good friend: My sensitivity — or sometimes my overly sensitive nature — makes me doubt the strength of my friendships at times, wondering if I’m getting back what I’m putting in. To combat this, I hope that becoming more confident will help me to also be a better friend to those that I care about in my life.
- Having the next awesome job: I mentioned that I am looking to make the most of my pending graduate degree, and that will partially be realized with the next step in my career. It will be a change, but I hope that my future moves will be for the best.
- Nurturing my interests: I’ve found plenty of things to keep me occupied through life, from video games to writing, photography to bad movies. In the last two years alone, I’ve become interested in practicing improv comedy. While school and work have taken up much of my time and mental capacities, I hope to find time to branch out and feed my current passions while discovering new ones. I can do that in 10 years, I reckon.
- To become the best NASCAR racer on the Sprint Cup circuit: Just kidding. God, I hate that shit.
This list will evolve and change as time goes on, as life manages to offset the best-laid plans. Being able to live to 40 alone will be a big enough accomplish. I hope that I can evolve as a person along the way.