You recently turned 30. We are talking days ago. I am writing to remind you about your 30-year old self and forecast how I envision these next 30 years transpiring. I promise to be blunt. Tell me if I am wrong.
First, you have probably discovered by now that you are not special.
I know, as a millennial everyone told you that you had a special talent or gift growing up, but we need to be real. By age 30 we did not detect anything uniquely special or extraordinary, so you probably experienced more of the same. Most artists, athletes, and other prodigies peak by age 30, so numerous ships have probably sailed for us already. Maybe you made your mark in business or perhaps betrayed convention and actually became a writer. Did you publish that book you always blabbed about? Odds are you are ordinary and above-average at best.
Similar to how you failed to become the next Allen Iverson as you prognosticated in your 8th grade yearbook, you probably did not become the Warren Buffett of your profession either. Although I am sure you did well. You were always smart and could compete in the classroom and the workforce. But did you become a CEO? Did you start your own prosperous business? Did you take the lead in fighting for a cause? I doubt it.
Business and being special aside, by age 60 I am sure you witnessed many people disappear from your life.
Hell, we already experienced this by age 30. In the past decades, you have probably only seen many of the people you once called “close friends” virtually on Facebook and other social media sites. Some may have even deleted you from their social networks. Why is anyone’s guess. Maybe humanity even invented a new way to socially interact from afar – a virtual reality form of social media.
Regardless, bonds fade. Like drifters, people will come and go. As you have probably seen, except for the few friends and family who actually care about you, people now only reach out if you can give them something like a job reference or referral (or, I guess, help their children at your age!).
This is a good reminder that time is far more precious in your thirties than it was in your twenties. There is less room to screw up. Responsibilities abound. Making time only for the people you care about, and most importantly, who care about you, is imperative. Otherwise, you’re wasting time you do not have. I hope you succeeded here.
You might have started a family, but like most educated millennials, you started late.
At the rate we’re going now, even if you had children at age 30, you would be almost 61 by the time your kids reach the big three zero. An inevitable consequence of our generation inheriting a post-recession economy and obscene student loan debts is that we started adulthood late. Who can afford a house with no job (or underemployment) and a mountain of debt at 6% interest?
Although you married at a reasonable time, you still probably want to be even more financially stable before bringing life into the world. Diapers and 529 plans are no joke!
It will be interesting to see what your friends do because many were in the same boat.
Speaking of friends again, people in general are probably more socially disconnected by the time you’re 60.
A byproduct of the millennial generation coming of age in the internet era is that we grew up technologically savvy, but socially inept. We could always hide behind screens in social settings. Even those happenstance encounters early in our careers could be disrupted with iPhone shields. You see someone you don’t want to talk to, and suddenly an imaginary phone call or urgent text message requires your undivided attention. Waiting for an elevator at work is time for social media, not social interaction.
Unless something drastically changes with society, future generations will only be more reliant on technology than even our generation. If you have children, when did you give them their first iPhone, iPad, or laptop? Do you use them like most parents as distraction devices? I am sure you did after your child first screamed at a restaurant.
What is the balance between social interactions and technology? How do you address this balance in your personal life and for your family?
If the past few years is any indication, the world may be an even scarier place now that you’re 60.
I can only imagine what the sea levels look like. Do polar bears still exist? Can people breathe air without oxygen masks in big cities around the world? Is humanity still reliant on fossil fuels?
Whatever the case, I hope you have done your part in making a difference in the world. I hope you have done something to push the human race forward. I trust you have tried to promote love and positivity during these thirty years. As of writing this letter in 2018, the world sure needs it.
Here’s to making the next thirty years great.
Your 30-Year Old Self