Wednesday, May 02, 2012


I am going to be 30 in just about three months, which is a pretty obvious time for some assessment and self-analysis. I am not even going to touch the question of "Am I where I thought I would be when I was 20?" because there is absolutely no way to reconcile my current life with my expectations from July of 2002.

But I am going to talk about some changes that I have noticed, and as the big day approaches this summer, I will probably do the same on at least a few more occasions. Today, I wanna talk about in "shades of" (and not the middle-aged woman porn that means these days;-)).

At 20, things seem black and white. Honestly, by 23 or 24, they seem even clearer...the world seems to make sense, or at least your ideas seem to make sense. At that age, we have pretty strongly formulated opinions about work, life, politics, friends, etc. A less kind assessment would be that we are know-it-alls;-)

I think I am starting to appreciate better what I don't know...and I am becoming more open to the idea that people can hold opposite opinions from me and not be totally crazy. At 30, I think I am realizing that things are a lot more gray than I ever thought. I find myself getting less and less off-the-bat outraged over things because I am better at looking for other sides to issues.

Take this election season, for example. It seems like every week has been marked by a "War on (fill in the blank)". I especially like how there has been a war on the rich, the middle class AND the poor...that is the kind of equality war-mongering that I can really get behind. There have also been wars on women and students and conservative women and the environment and business. Oh, and definitely dogs. (But surprisingly little talk about an actual know, in Afghanistan? Remember that one?)

And really, the overly-dramatized outrage doesn't serve any purpose other than to desensitize us all to really serious issues. With some limited exceptions (I am looking at you, proponents of mandatory vaginal ultrasounds), my basic reaction is that people just need to chill the fuck out a little bit. Every time someone proposes a new law, it is not THE WORST THING EVER!!! We should be able to disagree without flying off the handle.

Part of it is having kids, which should come as a surprise to no one. But that has changed my ideas not just about children and raising them, and not just about obvious things like parental interaction with children. I guess you just view the world a little bit differently when you feel like you are responsible for it to your kids. And I think you realize that a lot of opinions you previously held are more selfish than you ever thought they were. That probably seems a little bit preachy...

Part of it comes from seeing more academically and professionally, too. I think I view activism, for example, a whole lot differently because I have been around so many people who "get stuff done". No one ever built a monument by sitting around and bitching about it, I guess. And it's helped me to identify those things that really are important, and those things that may be irritating but which really don't matter.

Not everything is the end of the world. Not everything you miss out on is really the best opportunity you will ever get. Not everyone who disagrees with you is an idiot. Nor are they evil. Not everything is cut and dried, black and white.

They world is much more gray than that.


Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

YES! I echo everything you say here. As a late 30-something, it's all so true!!

Anonymous said...

My big 30was in February and I agree with you.
Great post!