It is February 20th, 2020. A dull Thursday afternoon as I sit down to write this article. Something I have been planning on doing for a while, but I haven’t had the time, to be honest. I usually try to aim for one article a month on this blog, but the days seem to slip away quicker than ever before now due to a never-ending to-do list I run over in my head. I have 4 days left before I have the pleasure of turning 30 years old on the 24th of February 2020 & make no mistake, it is a pleasure, and it is something that I am actively looking forward to. I have come to realise, like Jenna Rink after a brief internal battle in 13 going on 30, it can be pretty sweet to be thirty, flirty & thriving.
It seems like a milestone that is ever-present on the horizon for the whole world once you turn 25. The arrival of your fourth decade is nigh and it is portrayed as something you should be dreading no matter how carefully you curate your social feeds. A lot of the time, it can feel like everyone wants you to be terrified of turning 30. As though the only suitable way to feel about entering this new decade is nervous, sad and overly devastated by the ‘loss of your youth’.
Whisper it quietly as it may not be a popular opinion but being 30 is far better than being 20, especially in today’s kinda horrifying world. I’m not saying that turning 30 isn’t a big deal. Any birthday with a ‘0’ is important and will unavoidably warrant a certain amount of self-reflection but these landmarks should be celebrated, not bemoaned.
The “free” swing you get at life when you are a young twenty-something is wildly liberating as you are free from the shackles of parents, studies, overbearing sporting schedules and whatever else weighs you down in the formative years of your life. You can be anyone you want and do anything you set your mind to. Your 20s are characterised by discovery, they are supposed to be. We spend much of the decade working out what we like & don’t like; in what we want to do, what we wear, in our relationships & how we wish to present ourselves to the world. This that means we end up putting up with a lot of shit while we are figuring it all out. Personally speaking, the most significant change between my early 20s and hitting 30 is that I now know who I am, and I back myself.
If your 20s are for figuring stuff out, your 30s is the decade of certainty. You are more confident and if you have done your 20s right, you will have no qualms about turning 30 whatsoever. It is probably the first adult milestone where you will have regrets about what you have not done, what you have not accomplished and what may have simply passed you by. The only people who are anxious about turning 30 are those who believe that they did not achieve what they set out to do in their 20’s & make no bones about it; you won’t be a 20-something year old long.
Procrastination will become your enemy and it will take you a long time to beat it down. Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life & doing what you think you should. For example, going by Instagram, you would think that travelling will somehow help you figure it all out, it’s almost like influencers with 0 personality do it for easy content to portray that they are successful. Surprising isn’t it?
Yeah, it’s cool jumping around the world when you are 23 but it is shite craic to be out on the pull at 28 and taking someone back to your parent’s house. By your late 20’s the floor just isn’t as appealing an option as it was in College. That is why I would recommend having a 5-year plan, not a 5 week or a 5-month plan. Take the short-term pain for a long-term reward. If you are not moving forward; you are simply standing still & that is the worst thing that you can do in this life. Instead of a budget trip to Ibiza for Instagram, maybe upskill at something?
I mean, if you want to drink WKD and get an STD, just go to a seaside town in Ireland. Food for thought.
Of course, regular readers of this blog will know that it is easy for me to say all of this from my high horse. I am an incredibly lucky person, I know that. By all accounts I have everything sorted out. I have carved out a successful career, I own my dream house & I am engaged to a beautiful woman who is a lot smarter than me, so I am marrying up. Believe me, I am as surprised as anyone, this was not how I thought things would go for me at 30. I hit the jackpot.
It is not all success and wisdom from a life that is now spanning everything from the foundation of the World Wide Web in 1990 all the way up to the Corona Virus in 2020.
Much like any piece of hardware that is 30 years old, somethings just are not like they used to be. As I have always been the baby, I am the last of my friend group to turn 30 so I have been hearing it for a while & I can confirm it. Once you hit 30, your body just starts to shut down. Aches that you have never felt before begin appearing out of nowhere as if the universe knows it is now time to start shutting you down.
This is on top of me currently awaiting serious surgery on both my knees, I cannot play any sport and to borrow a phrase from my father, it’s a real kick in the bollocks.
You see the younger fellas rocking up after playing 3 matches that week and it seems like only yesterday, I was in their shoes, wondering why the older fellas are complaining about their bodies, thinking those days would never arrive. So, with my two knees knackered from a lifetime of abuse, this is the first real-time in my life where I can’t play. It is tough to take as sport is probably a big reason why I became an entrepreneur. It is ultra-competitive, and I love to compete. I have a neurotic, obsessive need to win. I always have & high-end business is like having a championship final every day. I am pretty sure I am addicted to the rush. I think that is a big part of why you see a lot of sports stars move into business on retirement.
I have also been warned about my metabolism FINALLY slowing down and if it does, I am in big trouble. I go to the gym a lot, mostly because it is good for my headspace, otherwise, I am just working all the time. The gym forces me to spend at least an hour a day away from the office & more than that, it enforces a routine into your life that lends itself well to your professional life.
Similar to the army’s method of dressing your bed every morning, you start your day with a small number of easy tasks done well and the harder tasks become more manageable. So I start my day with a workout to shake off the cobwebs which means the gym side of my life is good, after learning all there is to know in my 20s, I now know how my body works and what it needs in terms of exercise & weights. if you feel good, you look good so that is not a problem.
What I have yet to commit to, is the diet side of things. In all honesty, I have never really had to, putting on weight when I first started going to the gym was my problem and luckily this is still the case (barring last year when I had to lose 3KG which may spell the beginning of a need for change). Some of my friends just need to look at a packet of biscuits and they will put on weight, so they need to be a lot stricter with themselves. Considering, I put no effort into my diet whatsoever and I have a drawer in my office reserved entirely for Maltesers, I will probably need to make some minor changes.
My metabolism slowing down is a slight concern. I may even need to begin eating some of those green things that Stephanie keeps cooking and I keep throwing away. Sure, I could have a six-pack if I really wanted to, but life is too short to ever turn down some pizza because it doesn’t fit your macros. I guess I will just cross that bridge when I come to it, hopefully, I will do so with two functioning knees.
For the moment, I have only one real fear about turning 30 & that is the fear of being left behind. While age is no guarantee of efficiency and youth is no guarantee of innovation, to those rooted in the world of technology, this can be a tough statement to put your stock in. As a man who will soon be 30, I am fully aware that whilst I have years of working experience behind me, there’s still another 35 years (at least) ahead of me before hitting retirement age. Now, I love what I do so I am sure it will evolve to other aspects as the years roll by. In a few years, I may not even recognise my day to day work routine.
For example, Avalanche has grown exponentially, and we now offer a suite of 14 different individual services, that alone seemed impossible just a few years ago. I have created an AI programme that is learning all the time and has even begun returning emails for me as well as basic framework coding. I mentioned earlier that if you are standing still, by default you are getting passed by someone. This is never truer than in the world of technology & running your own company. I have alluded to it before, but I am not particularly gifted at what I do, I just work a lot harder than any of my competitors. That is what has allowed us to rise to the top of a particularly cut-throat industry.
You need to work every day like someone is coming to take it all from you, because, make no mistake, they are.
Someone 8 years ago had a monopoly on the industry in Ireland, then I came along and took it from them because I could & we simply did it better. They are now a subcontractor for Avalanche. I like a good fight and it is better to find out early if you like the taste of blood in business but am I going to be resigned to the same fate in years to come? The tech world is defined by advancements by an ever-younger generation, that is just the way of the world.
I have spent 8 years as a new kid on the block, people giving me a shot because they are looking for new ideas from the youthful talent that will shape the future of many industries. It may be my youthful complexion (thanks L'Oréal!) or my inability to grow facial hair but without fail, every single new client I meet will ask me my age and they are all genuinely surprised to hear I have been doing this for the most of a decade at this point.
I have always thought of myself as this loner type, who lets his work do the speaking for him because I am more comfortable alone with my screens. I will often drift out of conversations while I try to figure out a coding bug in my head. As a result, I don’t buy into the whole networking part of business. I routinely turn these events down because, frankly, I could be doing something useful, not talking about things I have already done & patting myself on the back.
Will I be left behind in the tech world as I move into my 30s? Do I need to make more of an effort on building relationships and do the sycophantic hand-shaking thing while we all talk about how wonderful we are? Is this the natural progression for a man who routinely skips award ceremonies for this very reason? Endless calls and emails light up my phone 7 days a week. Will I always have the stamina for this and the hunger to take on all comers? As I move into my fourth decade, will I still have the fight in me to beat down my competition? These are the only real fears I have about turning 30. Thankfully, they are all professional concerns and can only be tackled when they happen. It is on me to stay ahead of the curve and for the moment, I am still relishing the fight that it brings but it is a nagging concern in the back of my head somewhere.
I have been daydreaming lately of meeting myself at 22 when I first started Avalanche & how that interaction would go. A headstrong kid who had no real idea about what he is doing versus me as a headstrong 30-year-old. Not much has changed in truth, I am just better dressed and my views on the world are widened. When I run through this little imaginary meeting in my head, I get comfort from the fact that I would comfortably beat him in any professional scenario, and this allays my fear for a little while.
I have realised that it is on me to take that fear of being left behind in the tech world and put it into something positive. The blend of youth and experience is still on my side and I am confident that I can make my dent in the tech universe before I see the end of another decade. It may sound corny but if you love what you are doing and you do it well, everything will just fall into place.
I have been winging it for most of my adult life & I am still figuring it out. Thanks to my social feeds I see a lot of online “entrepreneurs” try to be Gary Vee or Steve Jobs when they move into another chapter of their life. Inevitably this fails because of the essence of all successful people in business or sport or whatever yardstick you quantify success by is the people themselves and what I have learned in 8 years that if you are not projecting yourself, you are not going to last long.
So many of us choose our paths out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect so we never dare to even ask the universe for it. I am proof that you can ask the universe for it.
I always thought that the older I got, the more I would know. It seemed like people older than me always knew what to do. But as I became that older person, I slowly began to realise that we're all winging it and doing the best we can with what we know. We're in an eternal evolution with no endgame and there's no achievement to earn that declares you a “master of life.”
Although it may seem unnerving at first, it’s a lot more fun to realise you’ll always be growing, making mistakes, learning, and moving forward.
For many reasons, it is clear to me that being 30 is a lot more fun than being 20. You have made a lot of stupid mistakes and more importantly, you will have learned from them and they sculpted who you are today & if you needed some concrete evidence. Inevitably, being 30 will lead to better sex & more money in your life. 30, flirty & thriving. Jenna Rink was on to something.
I will take 30, fucked up knees and all.