5 Reasons Life is Better After Age 30
Last week, my meth-knowledgeable peer John Cheese established that the teenage years are usually awful and life generally gets better. Now, let's break down that timeline a little more. When you're 18, you can vote. When you're 21, you can drink. And when you're 25, you can rent a car. But what do you get for turning 30? Well, the quick answer is: "hit on by chicks with daddy issues," but you deserve better than a flippant response. If you clicked the link that took you to this article, then you're probably over 30 and hoping for some good news. Or maybe you're under 30 and reading this because you're curious about things to come. Actually, it's also likely you're just some crappy teen killing time while you wait for your testicles to descend. But whatever the reason, I stand by my original statement that you deserve better. Oh, and yes, I know those numbers up top are very U.S-centric so there's no need to leave a complaint in the comments. We're all aware that the legal drinking age in Scotland is now 8, and that when you're 14 in Azerbaijan, you qualify for your goat herder's license.Moving on ...
You Realize Nearly Everyone's a Joke
When I was a little boy, I was in awe of grown-ups, and I honestly wasn't sure I had what it took to navigate the adult world. I would watch my father shave in the mornings. I'd study the way he tied his tie, and how, like all the other commuters, he knew just where to stand for the train doors to open up. And that was before his job even began. I was sure that when my time came, I'd end up lost in Times Square, needing to give my name and phone number to a policeman.
You Live to See Your Enemies Fail and/or DieThe longer you live, the greater the odds you will get to see the teacher who wrongly deprived you of that scholarship grade you desperately needed have a massive cardiac event, falling down a flight of stairs, and kicking and twitching in a tremendous amount of pain until she dies. See? Getting older can be fun. Especially, if you try not to be too aware that you and your loved ones are also getting closer to that fate. But hey, let's stay positive here. You get to see bad people die. Actually, I don't mean for this entry to seem as small and petty as I'm pretending (because it's fun, and because I'm a terrible person). Let's take a step back. What I'm really talking about is living long enough to see some residuals on karmic justice. For example, perhaps, you once lost out to a competitor who cheated. And then you spent the next five years growing increasingly bitter about your loss. How great would it be to see your foe disgraced for continuing in his cheating ways? Sure, there is a certain delight in your enemy's misery. The Germans call it Schadenfreude, because making up words is one of the two things Germans are known for and the other one they don't like to talk about. But the best part about your enemy's downfall is its ability to restore your faith in justice. What goes around comes around. You reap what you sow. All that. Life will challenge you to keep growing without being consumed by cynicism. And one of the biggest obstacles to meeting that challenge is seeing small terrible people reap the rewards of their bad behavior. If you live long enough, however, sometimes you get to see their wickedness catch up and bite them in the ass. A small reward, but one that will help keep your idealism alive into the decade that follows.
You Learn Your Strengths and WeaknessesGrade school Gladstone thought he was good at everything. After all, I did well in grade school and I was a pretty decent second baseman. By junior high school, however, I started to realize I was more of an English/history guy as opposed to math/science whiz, and that the Mets weren't scouting me. And as I grew older and gained additional schooling and work experience, I was eventually able to boil down my greatest strengths and weaknesses -- meaning I could finally answer that miserable interview question I've never been asked. And here they are: I'm very good at seeing the analytical connection or logical breakdown in data, but, unfortunately, I can't proofread for shit. Why is that so great? Well knowing your weaknesses is good because you can take corrective action. For example, each week I threaten my colleague Seanbaby with an ass-beating unless he proofs my column. OK, not the best idea since Sean's like a gold belt in Space Judo or something*, but the point is, at least I can try to do something about my shortcomings. (Also, I think I have a 50/50 chance of taking Christina H. in a fight so all I have to do is tweak my plan slightly and all will be well.)
You Have More Control Over Your EnvironmentWith the exception of those miserable bastards you see every day at your job (the one you work to afford things like food and shelter) as you get older, you'll do an increasingly better job at filling your life only with the people you want there. Think about everyone with whom you used to spend so much time. Members of the gang who attended all the same parties, but whose company you never enjoyed. Ever. Guess what? By the time you hit 30, they're no longer around. Neither are all those people who did things you don't care about, but felt you were supposed to, like attending professional sporting events or going to foreign films or camping or extreme mountain biking. Whatever it was it doesn't matter. You don't have to do it anymore.
Free Punch and Pie!!!!I don't know if I should be writing this because it's supposed to be a surprise, but when you turn 30 you get free punch and pie. Every day. Every damn day, the post-30 punch and pie fairy delivers high-caloric treats directly to your home. Isn't that awesome?!OK, there's no free punch and pie. But, there are still surprises. Teens and college students don't hold a monopoly on being surprised by life and learning. It never ends unless you shut it down. You might have picked a career or started a family. There might be a list of things you will never be -- a professional athlete, Jennifer Connelly's sex slave, David Bowie's songwriting partner -- but each day still bring surprises and the opportunity for change. I don't even mean you might win the lottery or get bumped up to first class one day and start a torrid love affair with Megan Fox. (Btw, Meg's got nothing on you, Jen!) I just mean small secret rewards. Discovering new passions and talents. New friends and additions to your family. Even learning all the things you already know. Again. That's a big one. I'm continually surprised how I can learn all things I've already known over and over again. Things like: you can't tell people anything they're not ready to hear; everything changes always; and you can never give the readers of the Internet too little credit. But the good news is by the time you hit 30, some of these truths start to sink in. And it may not be punch and pie. It may not be a full head of hair. But it's nice and it saves you a lot of time and grief. And besides, that lottery thing might happen too. Who knows? Certainly, not the guy next to you. Odds are he's not in that three percent.
Gladstone is Cracked.com's Resident Magician At Large. Follow him on Twitter. And then there's this. He has a website too.
Check out more from Gladstone in The 6 Best College Majors (For Filling You With Regret) and 6 Images From My Life You Won't Believe Aren't Photoshopped.