I am 29 years old. I have accomplished a lot and I have accomplished little in my short time as a professional adult person. I wish and wish and wish I have done more and have gotten further in society. Does that keep me up at night? No. Does that annoy me? Yes. Am I slaving away to change this? Yes and no. But is 29 a good year? I do not know.
Bobby always claims that 27 was his year. That’s when everything changed, when the blur of late youth and your twenties focused into something manageable. He started making money. His website was beginning it’s quick snowball toward success. He started getting into good relationships. He got a good apartment. That was a good year. At 29? He was a fully formed human.
When I was 27, I was still kind of a mess. It was 2013. I was running a fairly successful, now extinct website. I was freelancing on television shows as a social media producer. I was making decent money. I was (And still am!) in a great relationship. My snowball was small but it was something.
So where am I at 29? Still a bit lost. My books aren’t written. My movies haven’t come out. My mentor has yet to reveal themselves. My job has yet to shake into a real career. As I write this post, this website that I am chipping away at attempting to make a dent onto the Internet (And, therefore, the world!) has yet to be published. I have a great relationship. I have two dogs. I have various metrics of success that stare back at me and tell me that I am not successful. And success is happiness. Big numbers are happiness. Big numbers mean success. Being “present” is happiness and success fucking each other until your brain rots from the inside out. So am I successful?
To some, yes. To me? Not at all. There is so much more I need to accomplish—and 29 ain’t nothing but a number.
The Cut recently meditated on my year. They say it is the year that people like Joan Didion and Oprah and Patti Smith finally found their footing. It is a great year, they assure. It is your year. I wonder about this often. A friend of mine recently imparted wisdom from a college professor: “If you haven’t achieved your dream by the age of thirty, get a new dream.” Even though I was high on a champagne buzz, that phrase attached itself to me. It followed me around like a shadow ghost waiting to stab down any hopes as they popped up on any day this year. The news of this was the cold piece of ice dropped down my shirt alerting me that, at 29, it is impossible for me to make it onto any of those fucking annoying—But fucking jealousy inducing.—Thirty Under Thirty lists.
Oh well. So is 29 a good year? I still don’t have that answered.
I don’t mean to imply that you are, by comparison, a failure if you’re turning 30 and have yet to create your own New York dance academy or make head writer of a venerated American TV variety show. I’m just noting that, for so many women, our 20s are a warm-up decade. Thirty is when things start to get really good. I think this has something to do with the fact that many women won’t really go for it, pour their whole selves into something and push like hell to make it work, until they’re convinced they can crush it. Creative breakthroughs and professional successes require a significant amount of confidence, which is something that most of us spend years building up.
The women talk aside (Because I am only 49% woman.), I see this making sense. I see that the twenties are a warmup decade. My issue with that idea is that I am not getting any younger and, at 29, it already feels harder and harder to be something new and interesting and important to the world, both on and offline. Maybe that is what 29 means? Maybe it points to late blooming? It could just be an excuse. I see stories like this as passes for feeling overwhelmed by kids who are eight years old with the Internet eclipsing us what we have worked decades more than them to get to. I see stories like these as gentle easings into your cultural grave, kind slaps in the face to bring you into reality because no one else in your life (But that professor!) is giving you this advice.
This is not a new feeling: it just feels premature. It is an uncomfortable feeling that does inspire. If my time hasn’t come, my time gonna be big, y’all. My time is going to be so much fuller and more rewarding because I will have the capacity to enjoy it. My evolved post-twenties ways will bring about an added value to this inevitable reward.
I guess I’m just antsy. 29 is someone’s year—it just isn’t mine.