30 things before 30

I’m trying thirty new things every day for a month before I turn 30 . . .

something new x 30

with 17 comments

November 4, 2008 will mark the thirtieth anniversary of my birth.  Many people have intense emotions about this event: panic, regret, fear, dissappointment.  These people keep the date quiet or mark it reluctantly in the hushed tones of mood-lit restaurants with only a few trusted souls as witnesses.  Others plan bold festivities, inviting everyone they’ve ever known since age 0 to celebrate with monstrous bashes in honor of the extraordinary accomplishment of staying alive for three decades.

I’m not sure where I fit on this spectrum and lately I’ve been feeling that if I had to pick one word to describe how I feel about turning 30 it would be “ambivalent.”

I’m not ashamed of who I am at 29 and I have many things to be grateful for.  I am aware that I’ve checked off many of the items on the traditionalist’s “to do before 30” list.  Happily married?  Check.  Employed?  Check?  (Even better, pursing a challenging and rewarding career? Check.)  Graduate degree?  Check.  Own a home (no matter how unwise financially and psychologically it was to buy a “fixer-upper”)?  Check!  Check!  Check!

While I have many things to be happy about at 29 (see above), I don’t feel breathtaking joy about the prospect of turning 30.  And while people of any age can feel they need to be wealthier, thinner, more successful, there is something about entering one’s thirties that makes you stop and think: Am I who I thought I would be at this milestone?  Have I done the right things in my 20s to make my 30s even better?  Is it too late now to do any of the things I haven’t done yet?

That last question is the one that always gets me.  When I’m feeling serious I think: there are things I’ve wanted to do that I haven’t done.  Why?  None of the reasons seem good enough—fear, self-consciousness, procrastination, money.  When I’m feeling less earnest I think: You’re turning 30, not entering a nursing home!  You have your whole (well, most) of your life ahead of you!  But the question remains: If you haven’t done those things yet, when will you?

Since being 30 is going to be something that is new for me, I figure that one way to get beyond my ambivalence is to commemorate turning 30 with other things that are new for me.

This blog will chronicle the 30 new things that I do or that happen to me in the 30 days before I turn 30.  And since October has 31 days, I even get a safety day where I can stay inside in my pajamas and do absolutely nothing new.

So stay tuned.  Surely some of those 30 things will be interesting.  And if you’re feeling bored with my activities, suggest some different ones.  Tell me what you did to mark your 30th or share something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet.

[Disclaimer: Lest you start listing items like “topping Mount Kilimanjaro” or “learning to fly airplanes,” please keep in mind a few things that are keeping me tethered to reality: my budget is tight (basically nonexistent) and I need to stay within a 2-hour driving radius of Washington, D.C.  Oh, and I work a 40 hour week (5 days).]

Written by danamuses

October 3, 2008 at 4:55 pm

Posted in turning 30

17 Responses

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  1. what a fun idea! You are way ahead of where I was at 30…thats the year I got married and bought a house. I was thinking about going back to school for another degree. I was working at the Museum of History and Technology, and not in a “big job” like yours (!)

    I also started thinking about 5 year plans back then..what are the key milestones for the future? It was helpful.

    Be sure to take at least one day and visit some beautiful spot..say Great Falls or hike Sugarloaf mountain…I didnt do enough of that when I was younger. Now its a regular part of my life.


    October 3, 2008 at 10:43 pm

  2. From another “Almost 30 Club Member”, I think your blog should be a lesson for us all to try new things every day, no matter our age.

    So these are my far fetched ideas, but fun to do some day:
    -See the sunrise and sunset at the beach on the same day.
    -Drive a race car.
    -Run a marathon.
    -Meet the President.
    -Explore the FL Everglades.
    -Take a joy ride with Robby in the F-18 (with a doggie bag).

    I share with you my 30th birthday wish, to be able to see my husband and give him a big hug and kiss. Maybe that will bring your upcoming birthday into perspective. Appreciate all the many things you’ve accomplished and find joy in the simplest things.

    Sending you love from FL.


    October 3, 2008 at 11:31 pm

  3. You are old and yes, this is kind of lame. But I do have some wild ideas.
    -Wear a hat
    -Eat flan
    -Cut holes in the toes of your socks
    -Learn Pig Latin
    -Stick a Quetip in your ear as far as you can
    -Snorkle in your bathtub
    -Start a collection of fingernail clippings
    -Spend a whole day at home crying because you are old and dried up


    October 4, 2008 at 12:11 pm

  4. Here are some fun ideas from a member of the slightly younger crowd 😉

    -Host an ice cream social.
    -Use a fake name.
    -Spend an entire day speaking with an accent.
    -Wear two different shoes to work.
    -Take a dance class.
    -Don’t look at the price tag!
    -Call everyone in your cell phone and either tell them you love them, or make it a prank call because you don’t remember who they are.


    October 4, 2008 at 5:03 pm

  5. I think this is a great idea!!

    Let’s see, you have 30 days, so i guess everything should be in a reasonable time frame for you to accomplish.

    -write a screenplay
    -start a band
    -re-read your favorite book
    -go to the top of the highest building/monument in your area (the Washington monument?)


    October 4, 2008 at 9:28 pm

  6. You ain’t even seen old! But I’m convinced it’s a frame of mind. So:
    Dance til you drop and laugh til your sides ache.
    Go to the zoo and watch the gibbons watching you.
    Cook a lemon mousse.
    Become a grill master.
    Read (or re-read) The Phantom Tollbooth, some Neruda poetry, and People magazine.


    October 5, 2008 at 11:55 am

  7. Find a map and explore some new places. I found some pretty interesting parts of d.c. with that strategy. Have you ever been to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens? It’s totally wierd.
    DC Sail is a nice place to go for a sailing lesson out on the river.
    Any chance you’ll be able to go down to charleston, sc? If so, visit the angel oak. it’s the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi, and one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. If not this month, you should go there sometime.
    Bike to Mt. Vernon.
    Try the chocolate raviolis at eastern market. mmmmm.
    Get the shizo and plum roll from sushi taro.
    Take an empty cardboard box labeled “WMDs” down to the mall. HA! That’s probably a bad idea. I’ve always wanted to try that though.


    October 5, 2008 at 11:46 pm

  8. As a member of the older crowd, I can say that the best thing about making it through your 20s is the self confidence. Sharing a bottle of wine at home with your husband and friends becomes infinitely cooler than staying out until 4 a.m. Going to bed at 10 on a Friday night doesn’t mean you’re a fogey. In short: you’re perfect the way you are.

    Don’t abandon that spirit of adventure, though. You know what would be fun? Snap a picture each of the 30 days and post it on the blog with a timestamp. “Dana at 6:43 a.m.” Or try a new food each day.


    October 6, 2008 at 9:33 am

  9. How about see The Black Crowes in concert. Oct 25th at the 9:30 club. We’re going with some friends. Want to come?

    Erin D.

    October 6, 2008 at 10:48 am

  10. Not very exciting and I don’t know if you’ve already done this, but she went to a dermatologist and got an all-over skin check for her 30th!


    October 6, 2008 at 11:11 am

  11. Any of the three would be awesome.

    1. Meet a monk.
    2. Watch a monk making a mandala.
    3. Make a mandala.


    October 6, 2008 at 11:52 am

  12. I am so boring! I have been thinking about this question, and the best (realistic) thing I can come up with is opening a Roth IRA. You can put post-tax dollars in now (up to around $5000 a year I think) and let the interest accrue until you retire, and you won’t have to pay taxes on the earnings.


    October 6, 2008 at 2:12 pm

  13. I like this idea! I however, do not recommend putting a q-tip as far in your ear as you can! 🙂

    You’ve already done so many exciting things, I wouldn’t know where to start in recommending something.

    I saw this one somewhere and liked it:
    “Reflect on your greatest weakness, and realize how it is your greatest strength.”

    Record a puppet show for us all to watch 🙂 To celebrate your youth. 30 is the new 20 I hear!


    October 6, 2008 at 4:16 pm

  14. Definitely skip the Q-tip. I actually wore 2 different shoes to work once. Not on purpose.

    I would put #1 on your list: Decide that 30 is not the end of your window to do interesting things. I got married, went skydiving, hiked the Great Wall, had a baby, all in my 30s. My 20s seem lame in comparison.

    I’ll try to think of some actual suggestions now.

    Mary O

    October 6, 2008 at 5:32 pm

  15. I’m trying to remember what I did to celebrate 30, and for the life of me can’t. Not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad.

    Hmmm, for some reason streaking comes to mind. Have you been interviewed as a bystander on local news? I need some more time to think about this, clearly.

    Frankly, I love being in my 30s, and have no regrets. most of the things that come to mind are things that would require being independently wealthy, insane, or not married. 🙂


    October 6, 2008 at 5:44 pm

  16. Beat Jones, for mocking those of us who have/will be turning 30!

    In all seriousness, why don’t you volunteer for a political campaign of your choice? I mean, huge election, never done it before, turning 30 – what’s the downside?


    October 6, 2008 at 7:20 pm

  17. This is what I’ve got for now:

    – take a salsa class
    – tell someone important in your life something you’ve never told them before
    – bake an entire chicken, or, alternatively, make homemade ice cream
    – write a series of haikus
    – go to a lecture or listen to a podcast on an obscure topic you’ve always been curious about
    – compost
    – talk (about something at least a little bit substantive) to five strangers
    – complete a maize maze
    – make a mix cd with songs representative of each year of your life; send it to friends who like mix cds



    October 7, 2008 at 7:40 pm

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