I am 30, going on 20

I just turned 30. It’s the beginning of a new decade, one I’ve been thinking about since I turned 25. Oh, the jokes I’ve been told and even ended up doing myself! Because when you hang out with jokers, it sticks to you too. Even in movies and TV shows, every now and then someone makes a joke about turning 30. “Already 30, soon you’ll be 40! Isn’t it wild?”, “Oh my god, you’re getting old” or “You’re 30 now, from now on recovering from hangovers will be rough, buddy”, they would say playfully as though they are doing a stand-up comedy special at Carnegie Hall. Apparently, turning 30 means you’re supposed to start looking for retirement homes and start yelling at 10 year-olds to get the hell out of your lawn. Just kidding, I don’t own a lawn.

But I do wonder about this topic: ageing.

Why is it such a taboo for some people? Why do they get scared of talking about their own passing of age? Age almost ends up being like a Voldemort type of thing, where talking about it is scary.

By the way if you don’t know who Voldemort is, we can’t be friends.

All around me, I see polarised opinions about age.

At the top of my head, I can immediately think about my family. Most of them don’t really care about their birthdays, even some of them get surprised, wondering aloud how they lasted this long (ok, calm down party animal). It is nice to see how they don’t make a big fuss over how old they are. Some of them even sometimes forget it’s their birthday. I distinctly remember one of my aunts replying “Oh I turn 62 today? Ok, nice. Thank you darling.” in a dismissive fashion when I congratulated her. It was funny.

Neighbours and family friends that I’ve known all my life talk about age with the most nostalgic tone of someone that misses those long gone days of youth. Some miss doing all the things they used to do, others talk about the things they wish they could’ve done when they were younger.

Obviously, what we see the most is people celebrating their name day (Game of Thrones, anyone?) with their friends over dinner at a restaurant. I remember when me and my friends did the same. Of course, Auntie Rona doesn’t allow that now, so we avoid gathering and just celebrate through video calls. But otherwise, back when we could celebrate good times, we would party like Paris Hilton on an average Tuesday — except we would do it on the weekends. Fortunately, the next day nobody woke up with a tattoo on their face, a wedding ring on their finger or a real live tiger in their bedroom.

And then there’s the other side of the spectrum.

There are others that take their age and the concept of ageing too seriously. They allow it to define who they should be and how they should behave, not forgetting the already mentioned “taboo” of talking about age.

True, society expects us to act, speak and exist according to our age.

Of course, I do believe that as adults we do have to set a certain example, and i’m not talking about fear of being judged. I’m talking about showing younger generations what to expect from the adult world — which we all know it’s not easy — but keeping in mind that we have to know when to unwind. If we start taking ourselves too seriously because of how old we are, we’ll be walking that yellow brick road to Boring People City — and we won’t be wearing emerald green. I imagine our clothes would be in different shades of black and grey, that’s how boring I imagine we would be. Yes, we all have different life experiences and that influences a lot the way we interact with others. Unfortunately, not all experiences are good and we have to fight for ourselves and have a harder time trying to find the good in all the bad.

“If we start taking ourselves too seriously because of how old we are, we’ll be walking that yellow brick road to Boring People City”

We are born a blank page and are our life experiences that shape our personalities and views of the world, which evolve as we age. But part of these experiences include positivity, good energy, the ability of looking for that hopeful bright light in the midst of the darkness that symbolises all the trials and tribulations we all go through at some point. And we should strive to keep these elements with us everyday and make sure we keep the darkness at bay, the spotlight on and keep our positivity shining on. Okay, we have jobs to attend, lives to live that have all sorts of demands, but why should we permit that to erase all sense of cheerfulness we have and let it turn us into walking and talking bricks that think that watching an animated movie as an adult is inappropriate “because that’s for kids and we’re not kids anymore”. I swear, people that tell me these things must be so dead on the inside that it’s amazing they don’t have an RIP tattooed on their forehead.

Because we’re adults the main focus should be paying taxes, running errands and suppressing the things that actually keep us positive and happy?

I’ll give you an example: I’m a geek and a pop culture fanatic. Disney, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Stranger Things, Rick and Morty, Back to the Future, Marvel Comics and DC Comics (and their respective Cinematic and TV universes), Seinfeld, Friends, Six Feet Under, etc. Take a very famous film, TV show, book series and I’ll possibly own it, including merchandise such as clothing, memorabilia and posters. I’ll even quote them in conversations with friends. They’re part of me, they shaped my personality and taught me a lot growing up. Luckily, most of my friends are like me so they play along as well, while others either look at me sideways or they go as far as to ask me why I dress and act like a child. Well, it’s not my fault your idea of fun is getting home earlier because there was no traffic.

Like I said, I just turned 30. My best friend gifted me a Knight Bus Lego set from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Those who know me and share my passions thought it was really cool. But then I was told recently in a conversational manner by a friend “You’re 30. I’m surprised that you still appreciate getting Legos.” Indeed I do. Sure I don’t play with them, but they do look awesome on my shelf. Why should I not like it? Why should I not enjoy this thoughtful gift and use it as a piece of memorabilia?

Here’s the tea: you get old when you let yourself feel old, period. We can be adults and live our lives as such, but there’s no reason for us to stop enjoying those things that all our lives gave us positivity and happiness. We can have it both: the relaxation of having our taxes paid and enjoy that film for we hold a special place in our hearts, the relief of getting all work done and being able to read our favourite book of all time, the rest that follows doing laundry and the joy of playing a video game. I can be professional and take care of my apartment and still buy that really cool Stranger Things t-shirt I liked.

Society must stop putting pressure on us to act a certain way just because we’re no longer children. We are very much aware of that, thank you very much.

The truth is, while being well aware of our age, we — the outgoing, quirky people who keep our energetic disposition and don’t see life as an Ingmar Bergman film (although they are very good) — enjoy our personalities as they are.

It’s what allows us to cherish the good things in life and find the humour and perseverance where there doesn’t seem to be none, express in our body language how happy we are for doing something we love and, even more importantly: we don’t take life too seriously!

Because if we did, we’d end up being empty shells of who we once were. We lose the good energies, happiness and enthusiasm that we used to have.

So please people, don’t let your age define your life! Keep that fresh and outgoing perspective on things and it won’t matter if you’re 35, 45 or 65! Ageing is part of life but it doesn’t mean stopping enjoying our lives like we used to. But if you’re really 65, i’m not counting on you to be table dancing at a bar, dancing to Can’t Stop the Moonlight and pouring tequila on your body so others can do body shots. Go out, watch your favourite childhood movie, dance, live, breathe it, enjoy it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to assemble my new Lego set, while wearing my Grinch onesie and sipping tea out of my Star Wars mug. I may be 30 in years, but I still feel 20. After all, it’s just like Aaliyah used to sing: age ain’t nothing but a number!

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Pop-culture lover/geek. Professional wine drinker. Ravenclaw spirit, Slytherin attitude. Don't dream it, be it.

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Edgar Parreira

Edgar Parreira

Pop-culture lover/geek. Professional wine drinker. Ravenclaw spirit, Slytherin attitude. Don't dream it, be it.

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