"Landmark birthdays" are different for everyone, but 30 doesn't
feel like I thought it would. Maybe it's because I've been telling
people I'm 30 since I was 25 and could legitimately "round up." But
since the New York Times published that I was 29, in their August
story "Vermont Sisters With Roots in News Embrace Small-Town
Papers" the truth is out: I'm not yet, 30. Or wasn't then.
On Sept. 12, I finally hit the 3-0.
I realize that after turning 21 most people do not lie about
being older, but I did. It was an attempt to avoid the reverse
ageism I perceived on the job. Colleagues and clients seemed to
feel no shame in asking my age and then exclaiming, "oh my, you're
so young!" whenever I told the truth; it felt like losing
credibility. 30, on the other hand, seemed dignified; old enough to
have worldly experiences but still believable.
Most of this "ageism" that I perceived was probably just that, a
perception. But, because of it, to many people I've been 30 for
Now that I am 30, it's kind of anti-climatic; to be honest that
is not what I expected.
No, I didn't expect lightning bolt changes. But shouldn't I feel
older? Parents are 30, mine were, and many of my high school and
college friends are now pregnant or plan to be very soon - surely
they feel differently, right? Parents are old and responsible,
almost by definition. At least that's how I always perceived them
Now I think I may have had the whole thing backwards:
responsibility, maturity and parental instincts (and other things
that "old people" have) may not come with age, they may come as the
result of choices and changing circumstances, which could
themselves be made whimsically or be unexpected - moving across the
country, changing careers, buying a house, a business, a dog. But I
Perhaps, then, it is simply hard to recognize "old" in yourself;
maybe it is only a title that is imposed upon you by younger
generations. Certainly this was true (and remains true) for my Dad,
who claims he is 60 going on 14, and truly plays that way.
Would "generation next" say I was old?
Probably. I think I'll just keep playing.