There are lots of problems with turning 30. But a big one is talking about turning 30, which has been reduced to cooing tweeness by the Time Out Taliban: the guy in your office wearing a Thundercats T-shirt who's flirting with the girl who thinks silent discos are great while the IT manager tries desperately to chip in about his love of immersive theatre.
Various bits of conversational hot air – stuff like "My hangovers are getting worse!" or "Remember cassettes? Man we're getting old!" – belie the weird anxieties, insecurities and questions that start to creep into your peripheral consciousness as your fourth decade approaches.
Therefore, it's probably worth having a sober discussion about a few ideas, behaviours and situations you might engage in or experience once you're three years too late to join the 27 Club. So let's go: here's a guide to turning 30 for men.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOW A PLACE FOR QUIET DIGNITY
I mean, it always was and always should be – your opinions are terrible and your personal life is boring – but now more than ever, the urge to post a passive aggressive tweet aimed at a recent ex ("Glad to be rid of excess baggage lol #helloladies") or a caps lock rage-status about something minor ("JONOTHON ROSS GET OFF MY TV YOU FUCKING MUG CUNT!!!!1!") should be resisted.
You see, even though it's actually not – it's still totally gross and people are still embarrassed for you – acting out dramas and emotions in a public forum in your early twenties seems kind of OK; the passion of youth has taken hold and you're living it – you're Blake and Amy fighting in the street, you're Christian Slater telling it like it is in Pump Up the Volume, you're Robbie Williams when he quit Take That and bleached his hair.
However, things change pretty quick: throw a barney or make a scene in front of other people at 30 and I'm afraid you're Courtney Love flashing her crotch at an awards ceremony. You might not quite be rid of your infantile inclinations yet, but you at least have to start not broadcasting them to your friends and colleagues, because stoicism and discretion are qualities you really should have developed by now.
MOVIE REMAKES AREN'T RUINING YOUR CHILDHOOD, YOU FUCKING BABY
Finding out that your grandfather murdered sex workers and threw their bodies into the lake you used to fish in together would ruin your childhood memories. Jurassic World is just another movie you can choose to ignore. You're 30 years old; don't you have more important things to worry about than the production of a film for children, based loosely on another movie for children that you sometimes watch when you're hungover? Why are you even talking about this nonsense out loud?
YOUR BODY ISN'T WHAT IT WAS
By now, Facebook's "Memories" thing should have made you well aware that you are not the bright-eyed, snake-hipped young thing that took 2006 by the balls. The unceasing march of time – along with 10+ years of lager, bad food, no exercise and cheap drugs – means that compared to any photo of your 20-year-old self you now look like Orson Welles' bloated corpse, and that can definitely get a guy down. But never fear: there are a couple of ways around this, and both are addressed in the AA serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
That is to say: if you're going bald, suck it up and shave your head; and if you're getting fat, stop eating burritos every day for lunch, drink less alcohol and do some exercise. Your metabolism isn't the robust young princeling it once was.
WEDDINGS SEEM TO BE HAPPENING A LOT
At this point, it's probably clear that this article is for the benefit of man-children, rather than those of you with your life together – the assumptions being that you're childless and unmarried at the very least, and most probably single, living in a large metropolitan area and engaging in an extended adolescence because you are, frankly, not really a proper person yet. You are my people, and even now I am a married man, you are still my people.
Anyway. Do you own a suit? Maybe you should get a suit. If you've been even marginally personable in the last three decades, then the next few years will require your attendance at a number of weddings
Weddings are almost always super fun: expect to jostle and nudge your friends through the ceremony to the ire of an older attendee; expect to do cocaine in portaloos; expect to explain what a social media manager is to an interested elderly relative of the one half of the couple you don't know very well; expect to shudder through the bride's father being unaccustomed to public speaking or even reading aloud; expect to flirt with someone and then realise they're there with someone else; expect to have a relatively involved conversation with a priest when you're six pints deep; expect to dance with a fun child who thinks you're cool; expect to thoroughly enjoy the wedding band's version of "Tainted Love"; expect to spill dessert on your suit and put it away without cleaning it the next day and be annoyed at yourself when you get it out again months later; expect to be woken up by someone knocking on your hotel room door telling you there's five minutes 'til checkout.
Sounds fun, right? It's definitely not ideal that people keep getting married on weekdays these days, but it's often worth taking the holiday day for.
ALSO, BABIES SEEM TO BE HAPPENING A LOT
You're going to lose some friends to parenting in the immediate future, and you're not allowed to gripe and moan about it, because complaining about someone giving up doing drugs on a Wednesday night to raise a child is absolutely a ridiculous and morally terrible thing to do.
Here are some tips for dealing with your friends' babies:
– To avoid confusion, don't comment on the weight or facial features of a baby directly; you're bound to offend because you're not used to being earnest and sincere, and you're going to make people feel weird. Just say it's beautiful or say "wow" a lot.
– Always support their head and don't act too nervous because it makes you look like you're not a human being.
– Try not to be very drunk or on cocaine around the baby if you can help it. People, for some reason, get very protective around their own children and don't like erratic behaviour to be going on around them. Even if you don't do anything weird, the parents will still hate you for being reckless and keep you away from their child forever and you'll have lost two friends.
YOUR 30TH BIRTHDAY PARTY ISN'T A BIG DEAL
You know how when you were at school and you had it drummed into you that exam results were the be-all and end-all of your existence and if you didn't knock it out the park you'd die, and then when you got out of school you realised that was total nonsense? It's the same with your 30th birthday party. You'll be fine whatever happens.
It's not really important what you do or don't do, what people bring you or even who turns up: it's not your last night of freedom before a 10-stretch, so just arrange to have a nice time with some nice people without worrying about the minutiae and it'll be a blast. If it's not, that's not a big deal either – you should just laugh about it and move on, because Jesus Christ you're 30 years old.
YOUR BAND MIGHT NOT HAPPEN, SORRY
This only really applies to "band" guys who want to be rock stars – you completely get a pass if you're making some kind of weird metal or you produce off-beat electronic music, or whatever. In that case, keep plugging away forever; there are lots of genres that don't care about bald patches, boring clothes or beer guts, but if arena tours and MTV Awards are your plan, strap in, because this is going to sting a little:
As you hit 30, the concern should be that despite what the note that accompanies your demo says, you may not actually have a bold, fresh take on indie rock, and in fact you may be in possession of a dated, uninspired take on indie rock. If that thought hasn't at least crossed your mind, then you're conflating self belief with a total lack of realism and self awareness, and you need to buck up.
There's a couple of reasons why stuff might not have happened for you yet. One is that if you've been doing the same stuff since 2007 and no one's gone for it in eight years, maybe you're the problem? The other is that there's a chance you might be out of touch with what the kids want. Be really honest with yourself about this stuff, and then take the appropriate action (stop, manage your own expectations or change things up), because remember how lame you thought the old guys in the support band were when you were 22? You're those guys now. "Elder statesmen of the scene" isn't really a thing; everyone thinks you're just kind of gross and old.
(And stop sending demo CDs to music magazines, granddad, they've got enough to worry about and laptops don't have CD drives any more.)
SOME PEOPLE'S RELATIONSHIPS ARE GETTING SERIOUS AND SOME AREN'T
People are getting married and having babies and buying houses and that's fine, and some people aren't doing any of those things and are watching a lot of old episodes of Bottom on YouTube – and that's fine, too. Have you noticed that the only times you'll have someone telling you that you need to worry about your relationship seriousness levels are when you visit weird websites that need to fill content quotas and when you visit weird retired relatives who need to fill time before they die? Just be you, kiddo – if they don't like it they can get fucked.
YOUR PARENTS ARE GETTING ON A BIT
Yeah, watch out for that. They're not as sprightly as they once were. They're tired a lot and they talk over each other on speakerphone about the garden in an increasingly befuddled way every time you call them. Bury the hatchet on any post-adolescent nonsense disagreements you might have with them, because unless they're religious weirdos who hate you for being gay, they're probably OK at their core, and their generation didn't have a name for passive aggression when they were growing up, so they still think it's a super clever way of getting you to do stuff – but just ignore it and be their pal.
You like the same football team as your dad, and you and your mum both enjoy watching Midsomer Murders. If those are the only things you've got, just focus on them and the rest of the stuff will probably come with time, because imagine if they died and you were essentially still mad at them for making you take out your nose ring for school when you were 15.
NO MORE HI-TOP TRAINERS, TIGHT SHIRTS AND TIGHT JEANS
The time has come to behave with a little dignity. As always, do whatever you want, but these are irrefutable facts: hi-top trainers (Jordans, et al) look best on alert, energetic young hustlers, like how you were when you were 22. Tight shirts look best on gaunt, barely-there, elegantly-wasted amphetamine enthusiasts, like how you were when you were 22. And tight jeans look best on young, lythe and sexually adventurous androgynes, like you were when you were 22.
Not a single one of these things look good on a pudgy lager-fiend with receding hair and no jawline. You look like a grape with two toothpicks stuck in it, so maybe call time on this stuff garments and switch things up.
IF YOU'RE SAD ABOUT GETTING OLDER, IT'S BECAUSE YOU'VE HAD A GOOD TIME
If this list of admonishments and cold hard truths about the passage of time has depressed you, be reassured that being miserable about the end of one's youth only really happens to people who were young in the first place. If you didn't engage with youth culture and got a straight job and only listened to Drivetime radio and never did drugs and never had dramas and never stayed up all night and never wore weird clothes, never got in fights or fought the power in any way, then 30 is the same as the other 29 years, so be thankful that you had the youth you had, and use it to inform your adulthood.
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