So normally I am not the type of guy who worries all that much about milestones. Birthdays especially don’t really hold any meaning for me (mine I mean … not other people’s … I love celebrating my friend’s birthdays). I enjoy getting older for the most part. My life is pretty amazing!
I found myself careening through my early 20’s in a glorious semi-drunken haze. Bouncing from uni degree to uni degree as they caught my fancy – drinking at whatever place served something cheap and nasty (oh XXXX gold .. why?). In my mid to late 20’s things started to find their level. I got myself decent (if not inspiring) work that paid me fairly well. I was drinking at slightly nicer places. I dabbled back into a little community theatre (the back into is significant – we’ll talk about that later ..) Seemingly the older I got the better life was (and is .. you know .. my life is amazing) There were more things I could, amazing people to hang out with, incredible places to visit. Isn’t it all just … grand?
Then something changed. A voice in the back of my mind rang out like a tiny dinner bell. A small voice and one I barely noticed at first. I could just kind of feel it like a tingle under my skin. A tingle that grew with each passing week, until it became a kind of deafening offensive yodel. It’s message was deceptively simple – You’re nearly 30. To which I chuckled, unawre that it was festering away in my psychy. Growing into a rather pointed – Isn’t 30 old?
There were variations on a theme of course;
- Only a few more weeks until you can’t call yourself a 20-something anymore.
- Nice use of a decade there Shane .. really good work.
- Your friend who just turned 30 has a 6-figure income and a few houses .. what’s your excuse?
- That Tony nominee is basically 14 … your life is over!
- Shouldn’t you be married with 3.4 children by now?
Coke or Pepsi(actually .. both have a lot of sugar .. you’re not so young anymore .. )
- Coke Zero or Pepsi Max?
You get the idea ..
I didn’t quite get what was happening to me at the time – but given a little reflection, some good conversation, and a few glasses of red I’ve managed to come to some not so startling conclusions. Sure there’s the obvious thoughts of wasted opportunity, getting older, and maybe a small moment of realising that maybe I am human afterall (a fact I would still highly contest by the way – I am limitless), and I was crossing a threshold without ever really giving my dream career a shot.
More than that though .. floating around somewhere in my brain pan I’d started to give up. I was about to cross a line, and once I did, subconciously I was done. It also came at a time in my life where I was quite down, the black dog had paid me a visit and so I was perhaps a little more vulnerable to this type of thought than I would normally have been. I’m usually a very upbeat person, and I have a firm belief that in life, anything is possible. Feeling so off kilter was new for me and not a place I enjoyed being (as if anyone ever does ..).
Then a thing happened – I turned 30.
Apparently when this happens the Earth continues to revolve. Things still happen of their own accord and my goals were still there just as achievable as before. Now I might have been helped out by a few factors – I was traveling through the UK at the time. I was doing a course in London’s West End with some of the most amazingly talented people I’ve ever met (remind me to tell you about Alica her talent is insane – she also insisted on being included in a blog), and even though I was the oldest boy in the class by not a small margin, I had the most exhilirating time. I had my strengths reinforced. I had some time to get up close and personal with the industry and the people in it. I danced choreography from Wicked, The Lion King, Mama Mia (goodness Abba makes me sad in my face but the choreo to that show is wonderful fun), and Phantom of the Opera! I got to do puppetry and tell jokes and sing my little heart out. I acted with West End professionals and I held my own. I walked on a freaking West End stage and looked at the Les Mis set!!
Let’s go over that bit again .. I walked on the Les Mis stage in London’s West End!!!!! (breathing-breathing-breathing) It was amazing! The group all stared finding a space of their own and singing snatches of songs from the show. I laughed, chortled to myself at their eagerness, found myself a spot and sang Stars with tears in my eyes at how incredible it was. It was honestly one of the best moments of my life.
Anyway – it got me turned from a period of mourning the end of my days (cause .. 30 is the end of times now .. shut up I know I’m being over dramatic) into a period of reflection and planning. It let me catalogue the things that I said I’d do and have always put off. I got o have a look into a few dark places in myself. Ask what I’m really afraid of (success, failure and a little bit of just fearing the fear itself .. thanks Potter! Yes I’m a Slytherin what of it … ).
When I hold these things up to the light day and ask myself what it is that I want. If I want to be 40, or 50, or 100 and have to live with “what if”. It makes all the hesitation seem a bit silly really. Maybe, just maybe, I should do what I tell everyone else to do – feel the fear and do it anyway…
Let’s see how that goes …