Last week, I celebrated a milestone birthday when I turned — deep breath — 30. There is supposed to be something distinguished about turning 30. I spent the last month wavering between dread and excitement. I’ve been told this birthday is important because it marks the end of a decade that typically sees the graduation from college, the beginning of a career and, often, the start of a family. In other words, it starts the transition to a higher level of maturity.
I have one of the later birth dates of my groups of friends. So, as with with previous milestone birthdays — 18, 21 and 25 — I’ve had a lot of time to contemplate and ponder what turning 30 meant for me as I watched and helped my friends celebrate. For a few of my friends, their 30th birthday was just another day, another birthday and nothing special. For others, it marked an official end of their youth and caused mild palpitations.
I also saw that, for my friends who experienced a spouse’s 30th birthday prior to their own, they exuded a certain nonchalance about the big birthday, having already celebrated with their spouse. For my best friend, turning 30 was a confirmation that she accomplished her goals in the timeframe she had always imagined: graduating college and optometry school, getting married, having kids, buying a house, and buying into her own practice all before 30.
I never saw 30 as a huge turning point for me; I’ve always had an older mentality. Many friends and colleagues told me I should embrace turning 30 because these next 10 years are the best of my life. As I was doing some reflecting, it’s easy to see how my 20s provided great memories. In the past decade, I graduated college and law school, started my career and, after a few years, landed my dream job (pun intended), I began my path toward and was accepted into the ranks of NCAA football officiating, and, most importantly, I met a girl and fell in love.
In hindsight, my 20s provided some of the best memories of my life. That said, if all goes according to plan, my 30s should bring more great times and hopefully marriage, kids, continued success in my career and, with hard work and dedication, advancement up the college football officiating ranks. If my friends are correct, I can accept reaching the age of 30 with the calming reality of knowing that my best days are ahead of me.