I’ve long thought about what changes. As I get older, how I change. My tastes. How I make decisions. How I interact with the world. What I value. How I spend my time. What I worry about. What makes me happy. All that stuff. Recently I’ve found that my random thoughts on this have sort of cohered a bit.
What’s different now that I’m in my (nascent) 30′s? I think it’s a certain comfort.
There are a bunch of things that over the last 10 years caused me a ton of churn and tumult. Things like leaving/interviewing for a new job or making a career decision. Once I would obsess over details and get caught up in the back and forth that always happens in these things. I’ve recently been having some conversations about joining a company. Then the process seemed to go off the rails. The recruiter sent me an email reassuring me that all was good, etc. I chuckled because I realized that years earlier I would have been hoping to hear this – waiting for this email. Instead, now I sort of shrugged. Things have ups and downs and a bunch of random crap happens. If it was going to come together, after I did my piece, it would. On Friday night I was talking to someone much smarter and more successful than I am and mentioned all this, and he just nodded. It’s just one of those things. Once you’ve been to the rodeo, you eventually know what rodeos look like. So it’s calmer.
It’s not limited to professional stuff either. Whether it’s a moving cross-country or dating a girl. When I first moved from NJ to Cincinnati and then from Cincinnati to SF, those experiences really rattled me. While I was deeply excited about both moves, I was also leaving behind friends and the life that I had carefully built for the unknown. I can so vividly remember that feeling. Now the idea (or act) of moving is just a blip. Whereas I once obsessed about relationship hiccups (or pursuits), there’s no longer an overpowering churn about what she’s thinking or whatever. Though, since this last example is emotional vs logical, its definitely the least developed of all the ones.
I described it as comfort at the top of this. But I guess it’s also just a certain confidence. And that doesn’t mean you only develop this peace/comfort/confidence if you’ve been successful and haven’t made mistakes. I feel like I’ve made more, and greater, mistakes than most people (though, I’ll bet that most self-critical folks think this). While that should wreck my comfort as I approach these things considering all the poor decisions I’ve made professionally and personally, it actually hasn’t. I think that’s because I have recognized those mistakes. So, instead, it gives me solace that since I’ve made the mistake in the past and am aware of it, I’m less likely to make it again. Or, failing that, despite it happening, I survived it. And I mostly likely would again if I needed to.
Other than the occasional grey hair, the growing bags under my eyes, losing the ability to sleep in, the increasing soreness after physical activity, this is what I think I’ve gained with age. With age, I’ve gained the quiet confidence that life most often works out.