To a Close Friend, on the Occasion of his 30th Birthday

January 31, 2011

If you’re like me, birthdays tend to be a time for taking stock – especially in the morning. Sure, in the evening you’ll go out for dinner and drinks with friends, maybe dancing or a concert if you don’t have to work tomorrow. But during the day, when you’re going through your usual routine, you can’t help but ask yourself, “How am I doing? Is this where I thought I’d be?” And with today being your 30th birthday, that instinct can only be stronger.

As you know, I hit that milestone not long ago, and I well remember comparing myself to other folks I knew who had recently turned the corner into their fourth decade: Was I as successful as them? As financially secure? As happy? The results of my inquiry were mixed, as you might expect.

As you start out on your big day, I know you’ll be doing the same, and surely somewhere between coffee and a shower and taking out the trash, you will think about me. My 30th birthday is just three and half years behind me, and to all outward appearances, I have it made: a good job (step 3 on the state pay scale!), a beautiful and successful wife (can you believe this June will be our tenth anniversary?!), two gorgeous children, and a three-bedroom house in a comfortable central Connecticut suburb. You will probably wonder if you’re on track to keep pace with your old friend.

All I can say is, don’t worry. You know I got married young, and although it’s worked out for me, it hasn’t been without its struggles. And while you may envy my stability – especially considering some of the breakups you’ve weathered these past few years – remember that everyone is different, and also that you’ve had a lot of fun. (Don’t lie, you have! I’ve seen you in the clubs, remember? I know you’ve enjoyed yourself.)

As for the job, again, give yourself time. I don’t tell this to everyone, but when I switched jobs a little under a year ago, I took a big pay cut that was supposed to be temporary, but the raise ended up getting delayed and delayed, and it was causing all kinds of stress and strife at home, and finally I had to tell my boss I was going to leave – and actually start sending my resume out to other places – to get them to come through. Of course everybody just looks at me and thinks I have this great job, doing what I want to be doing, with state benefits and all that, and that I have my money situation all squared away, but it’s totally not true. So if you look at me and it seems like I have all my ducks in a row, remember: everybody struggles and scrimps and hustles, and I’m still trying to figure stuff out three years after where you are now.

Just remember this: you’re young, you’re talented, and you’re pursuing your dreams. I know when things don’t go your way, it feels like everyone is watching you and judging you, but honestly, there are a lot more people out here rooting for you than you realize, and we’ve all been through the same stuff. So keep plugging along, stay positive, and things will just keep getting better. I had the good fortune to meet the right person before I had even started my career, while you were really focused on your work at that point. But right now, things are going pretty well for you professionally and I think it’s only a matter of time till you meet the right person – in fact, knowing you, I have no doubt about it. So go out and have a good time tonight, and get up tomorrow morning (if you can!) knowing that you’ve done great thus far, and your best days are ahead of you.

P.s., I’ve attached one of my favorite photos of you, just to remind you that life isn’t all about achievements that can be measured against those of other people. It’s also about kicking back and having fun:

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One Response to “To a Close Friend, on the Occasion of his 30th Birthday”

  1. You are an especially good person, if I do say so myself.

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