Reflections on turning 30

by yet another seeker — on

In 20 short days I'll be 30. Reflecting back on the last 29 years of my life, I've been a bit of a snotty, shitty, entitled, toxic ass-hat. I ruined my marriage. I've hopped from one job to the next, "expecting" leadership when I can barely hold myself together. I had my first (diagnosed) manic episode. I've ruined countless friendships that I dearly regret for stupid and petty reasons.

The central figure in my life sucking has been me. I've expected a beautiful wife, a rock star job, and deep friendships to come to me without any effort myself. I've blamed women for not wanting to be with me when I am in fact overweight, unreliable, untrustworthy, have a bad track record, and am frankly unattractive. I've blamed my jobs for not taking me anywhere, when I put in minimal effort and blow up at the smallest perceived infraction. I've blamed humanity for being shallow and judgemental when that's the only way I've ever really interacted with the world. I've called others toxic and abusive when in reality that's how I treated them.

I want to turn a new leaf in my 30s. To take complete ownership of my general shittiness and the crappiness of my life. I am the one solely in control of my future. All I can do is accept my current situation, not blame anyone else but myself, and take accountability. It is my responsibility to find my way out of this hole, if I can at all. I’m going to try everything in my power to do so.

I've started by paying back my ex-wife for our wedding and the costs of furniture. $7500, a little more than the original costs with inflation. She may never fully heal from the emotional damage I caused her, but at least I can make her financially whole.

Next, I'm training 6 days a week and losing weight. I've failed many times with my weight and health, but in 2023 I've been able to maintain a consistent 4K weekly calorie deficit by using every trick in the book. Counting calories. Eating similar foods day in and out. Protein shakes for breakfast. Eggs for dinner. Hummus and pita with greek yogurt. High protein to help prevent atrophy. Lots of fruit and veg. When I cheat, I pay for the extra calories in the following days by cutting back on food or working out longer. I'm also incorporating a PPL routine and yoga. Again, drawing from every aspect of health and fitness I've learned (and worked for me) in the past.

I also want to try to be the best I can in all the roles I currently fill. As a dog father, I want to have the healthiest and happiest dog. As a friend, I want to be the most supportive and reliable friend there is. As an employee, I want to hit 10/10 for every metric possible. As a backcountry adventurer, I want to take the hardest challenges with the greatest rewards. That would also mean being the best ex-husband possible. I'm not sure what that means at the moment, other than giving space and repaying anything I can. Maybe that's all it needs to be.

I've been reading a lot on happiness and ownership. I'm starting to think that "happiness" as it's traditionally understood is a sham. It’s the pleasure taken from working on hard problems for long periods that really counts. This is a kind of “pleasure in hindsight”. I want to find the right problems to work on and then keep on solving them for the rest of my life.

I’ve also realized recently that my life was full of “fluff”. Long hours on YouTube or Reddit. Watching videos that will never help me and arguing with strangers about topics that don’t matter. Listening to podcasts where beautiful celebrities make jokes with other beautiful celebrities about how beautiful and successful they all are. Living in an apathetic stupor, never growing, always looking for that next dopamine hit. I’ve started trying to fill my life with meaningful, developmental activities. I want to read 52 books in 52 weeks. I want to work on my ukulele, not to show off to anybody, but for myself. I’m starting to see video games as an existential black hole. Why play a game where I pretend to interact with humans and level up when I can go work on my real social skills and actually improve in real life? YouTube videos no longer hold my attention when I can listen to an audiobook or a podcast on self improvement instead. TV and movies seem like valuable down time to decompress, but now I schedule them in on weekends. I might have time for a show in the evening, but I limit it to dinner time and only one episode.

I’ve felt better than I ever have, but it’s bittersweet. I’m coming to the realization that I’m the one that fucked up my life, which sucks. But I’m starting to feel like I’m also the one who can turn this ship around. Small, incremental progress is meaningful. Hopefully this isn’t just an extended manic episode. I’ll always be fighting the bipolar cycles of mania and depression in any case. I do feel like I’m starting to take my problems head on, and I’m starting to make the right decisions to move forward.

Finally, I'm hiking the Appalachian Trail in March. 6 months and 3500 KM. Years of preparation. I hope it’s a transformational journey, complete with lots of time to detach from my problems. Gain some insight from space and time away. And hopefully lose some weight too.

I guess you need every one of your failures along the path to learn the lessons you do and come to the conclusions you will. I wouldn’t at least be mindful of my situation if I didn’t fuck up in all the ways I have so far. I regret my actions and would change them in a heartbeat if I could go back. But I never can, and at least those fuck ups lead me to my current state of semi enlightenment.

So, it’s been an imperfect 29 years. Let’s try to make 30 on count. Or at least, make it a spectacle for the ages.