Who’s That in the Front-Facing Camera?
And some other things on my mind three days before turning 30.
Last weekend, one of my good friend’s good friends met a plastic surgeon at a gay bar we frequent far too often. He was introduced as “Jason – who’s really good at guessing people’s ages.” To aid his unsolicited guess of my age, Jason looked into my eyes, then scanned downwards. He examined the back of my hand and gave his professional, albeit drunken, opinion: “30, maybe 31?”
Months prior on TikTok, I mentioned my upcoming 30th birthday trip in a get-ready-with-me. I don’t reference my age on the internet often because the comment convention of “[insert shocked emoji] + 30???” is very not fun. On that video, there were a handful. On others, there were dozens. Reading them I wonder to myself, “Do I look 25? Or worse, act 25?” Almost always, it prompts a bite-sized break from TikTok.
If I’m allowed a moment of drama, both scenarios are triggering. I’ve never liked the idea of being perceived as younger than my age – especially if that perception is attributed to my behavior (yikes) or life “status”. At the same time, I don’t love the idea of looking older and, for the first time, I’m beginning to see my age several times a day in the mirror, or worse, front facing camera.
It could be a consequence of now living in Los Angeles, where everyone looks (I won’t say perfect, but want to) good, noticing my skin isn’t as perky as it once was, going up a few waist sizes year-over-year, or a combination of the three. Either way, I’m having to confront an uncomfortable truth: time is passing and I don’t get it back.
The real mind-fuck isn’t my appearance changing. It’s aging into this new age bracket, without meeting the “by 30” deadlines I set for myself and those set for me. As someone who historically has honored deadlines, realizing this set of deadlines will not be met in the next few days is an unpleasant reminder that I am not only getting older, but also off schedule. Unless of course, you have a home, husband or HBO first-look deal you’re planning to gift me this year.
My by-30 goals were set for a life course I dreamed for myself at various 20-something ages. But in those dreams, I suppose 30 was an expiration date, not a new chapter. It’s not very rational to believe I could be at my peak at 28 - the age I thought I wanted time to stand still - and over at 30. That fear of passing my prime was based on years of seeing people younger than me accomplish great things. Granted, those people were often more connected, possibly more talented, and/or had a stronger work ethic; but comparison demons seldom make sense. They haunt by spewing doubt, not informed logic.
I’m not the only one feeling this way. The greatest pop act of our time Taylor Swift recently opened her Eras tour thanking her fans for letting her be a 30-plus year old pop star. In an age of Billie Eilishes, Ice Spices and Olivia Rodrigos breaking record after record, I’d imagine many musicians feel there isn’t a place for the seasoned almost-veterans, even if you’re Taylor Swift. Similarly, and with great stretch, every time I think of recording a TikTok video, I regretfully compare myself to the 20-somethings with Ms on their account – millions of followers, likes and dollars from brand deals. Does it make sense to invest time finding my niche in a market that idolizes youth? Does anyone want to hear my prehistoric perspective?
That’s my toxic thought process on not-so-good days. Then the tide turns, and there are good days when I remember how much I accomplished in the two short years I’ve been trying to establish myself as a person with slashes – writer/creator/fashion person/personality/slash, slash, slash. There’s a lot I still want to do – and a lot I should’ve done by now according to my 20 year-old self – but the thing is, there’s so much time. I respect the Producer in me for setting an aggressive timeline, but the Account Person in me is setting new expectations: 30s are the very sexy hustle years in which we pursue new and existing dreams with the resources, context and clarity that comes only to those who’ve not only dreamed, but lived. You are not behind.
There’s comfort in knowing entering this new decade is not the end of good years, but the beginning of better years. I commented to a friend recently that in recent years, every year seems to get better than the last. I suppose that’s because in our 20s, through trial and error upon error, we learned what we like and what we don’t. Like that friend who creates drama where there is none – don’t like. Or communicating boundaries to a manager who doesn’t see lines – like.
With that education, we make some conscious decisions concerning love and relationships, career, finances, where we choose to live and other Lego pieces that make up a life. The result in my case has been feeling happier than I’ve ever felt, despite having a healthy, not-yet-satisfied hunger for more than what I have at present.
That isn’t to say I’ve resolved my many feelings about turning 30 next week. Some days I feel great about it, and on others the thought brings slight panic. I am, however, over the shock of not being where I hoped I’d be. Something about this mythic age has always felt very far away, but now I realize the plain truth of 20 vs 30: the two decades are literal neighbors. What sense would it make for apartments 20A and 30B in the same building to be that different?
If it comes with growth, aging is very okay. More than okay — it’s the answer to the age-old question that plagues us in our youth: What will it take for me to be someone? Time.
& some other things on my mind three days before turning 30:
- I need to stretch more.
- I will be walking around Los Angeles in Rick Owens boots because I do not have a car.
- Fashion is important and also, not important at all.
- The bi-coastal boyfriend is the ideal romantic situation for me right now.
- If he wanted to, he would.
- I should wear AirPods less often in public. Every time I don’t, I have an interesting conversation.
- There are other men to date besides bald ones with beards. Please, seek them out.
- More sober weekends.
- The LA power lunch should be a national practice.
- On a related point, I will be practicing the LA power lunch, despite working on a New York-based team.
- Every salad doesn’t need a protein. Also, steak is an underrated salad protein.
- Running off to Paris every time I have a crisis is more challenging now that Paris is eleven hours away. Next time I will try running away to Seattle – that feels right idk why.
- Jonah Hauer-King’s middle name is “Andre”.
- Harry Styles is rumored to headline the Super Bowl halftime show next year. That’s entirely premature, but I endorse.
- Normani, still.
- You do not need to ask for everyone’s Instagram when you meet them out.
- "Ever After" is still so excellent.
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