With my 30th birthday fast approaching I’ve been trying to distract myself with some before 30 challenges. I’m not really one to freak out about birthdays and getting older, but for some reason 30 is coming at me hard and fast. I don’t think it’s the number per say as much as this idea in my head of what life is supposed to be like when you’re 30. When I was younger and thought of a thirty year old I thought of someone who owned a house, was settled into a reliable career and probably had a baby or two. Maybe they lived in the suburbs and they probably had no fashion sense and a mom haircut. Obviously reality is always different than what you imagine when you’re young, I once thought 20 was old after all. But I also think the world is changing, at least if you live in a city in a western country. People have kids much later now, out of all my friends, only two have kids and one of them is a few years older than me. This idea of settling down doesn’t exist in the same way. People in their 30’s still care about fashion and go out for dinner at hot new restaurants. Not to mention that the real estate market in Toronto is insane, so you’ve got to be making well into 6 figures in order to buy a house.
So why then, do I still feel this pressure to conform to these old ideals of life and success? If I’m being honest I don’t know if I really want those things, and yet that pressure is still there. When I was younger the desire for adventure and travel seemed appropriate and I think I always imagine that as I got older that would go away. That I would wake up one day and be excited to have a regular 9 to 5 job (does that even exist anymore?) and settle in with my two weeks vacation a year probably spent at all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean. But that never happened. I still lust for adventure, change, and new experiences at every turn. Toronto is a great city, I am lucky to have grown up here, and to live here now, but if I’m being honest it’s a little bit boring. This article in the guardian called Toronto the most fascinatingly boring city in the world.
I’m sure many people of my parents generation look at me and my decisions and think that I’m irresponsible, or out of touch with reality. That buying a house is the end all, be all, of life success. Having a job at a big company with room for lifetime growth, is the ultimate goal. It doesn’t help that articles like this Toronto Life one paint us young people as silly and irresponsible. Not buying a house and liking to travel does not equal living off of your parents and spending thousands of dollars a year on crazy vacations and thousand dollar dinners.
So, since I can’t follow the regular parameters of success, I have to make up some of my own. I would like to have kids one day, but I’m not sure that it’s going to look the same way it did 20 years ago. Instead of helicopter parenting, I lust after instagramm accounts of international families travelling the world with kids in tow. Instead of buying a house in the burbs I’ve got to hope that Toronto condo developers will wake up and start building more liveable two and three bedroom condos. We city folk have to start doing it the European way, trading extra personal space for public ones. Enjoying all the free public parks and playgrounds available while settling for less space of our own. Embracing the so called sharing economy, since it’s definitely here to stay. While a traditional job may be harder to come by, finding work is easier than ever. You can drive for uber, rent out part of your apartment as an Airbnb, sell things you’ve made on Etsy or complete errands and chores for money. Maybe a house won’t be my retirement fund, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make my own retirement fund and invest. ETFs, Index Funds and even Mutual Funds (though watch those management fees) make it easier than ever.
So, while I try to resist the inevitable pull of age, I will make my own challenges, my own choices. My current one is 30 countries before 30. I currently sit at a tantalizing 29 with 6 months to go. What will your challenge be?
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- The Netherlands
- New Caledonia
And I still have lots of ground to cover.