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Saturday, 10 May 2014

At The Midpoint

So I turned 35 yesterday.

While I've never led a particularly dangerous life, it does feel kind of weird that I made it to this age. Even when I turned 30, the next five years seemed so remote that I don't think I ever really imagined what they'd be like. On the other hand, 40 now seems like it's coming at me like a runaway train.

As I'm sure I've hinted here before, I'm not always satisfied with where I am in life - I always feel like I could be doing more interesting stuff. I still want to get in better shape, travel to more places, make more money from sources other than my salaried job, meet a lady that I like and who, for once, likes me back. All the normal stuff, I guess.

None of that stuff is out of my reach (at least, I hope not). Thirty-five may be the last opportunity for me to get to a Batman-level of fitness, but at least I feel like I could realistically do it, or at least get closer to it than I am now - I figure I could still shave 15 or 20 minutes off my half-marathon time (incidentally, I had a great half-marathon last weekend!). And, as I like to joke, once I'm too old to be Batman, I can always be Iron Man instead.

Similarly, financial independence and travel both seem within reach. I'm not in a hurry to buy a house, in part because I only ever seem to live in places where I'll never be able to afford it, and I'm working on building up my finances at least so that I'll have a reasonable amount to live off in retirement (although I figure if I can ever turn the writing into my primary income stream, I probably won't retire).

Relationship stuff feels a little problematic, of course. One of the most useless pieces of advice - after "just be yourself" - is to avoid comparing yourself to other people. But it's tough to avoid, particularly in this area of my life. My friends in London are all in relationships: almost all are married and most also have kids (hell, some are even on their second kids). My friends in the Bay Area haven't really started having kids, but they've certainly all found their life partners by now. And still dating success seems to elude me (although watch this space).

Now, the reason I mention my lack of success in dating is because, in contrast to all those other things I want to accomplish, it feels like it does come with an expiration date. Objectively that's nonsense, but even ignoring the fact that all my friends are coupled up and settled down, the culture places a lot of emphasis on getting married young, even if people of my generation are marrying later and having fewer kids as a result. It's also true that I'm now three years older than my dad was when I was born, which is kind of a sobering thought.

Looping back around to the point, the reason this failure to settle down with a partner rankles is because, as I said above, I don't feel like I've spent that much time accomplishing other goals. My professional success has come in the last two years or so, and isn't even in the field that I feel is my calling. With regard to traveling, I've managed some good trips in the last few years, but I still haven't scratched the surface of all the places I want to experience.

Just to be clear, of course, I'm not really hitting some kind of mid-life crisis - I've heard that defined as the period when a bunch of doors close that you thought would always stay open. Realistically, pretty much all of my doors are still open - I'm unlikely to live in all the countries or cities I'd like to live in, but I figure I'm more likely to meet someone by not living as a nomad.

I guess I'm just taking stock, as I frequently like to, and trying to determine where I am in relation to where I'd like to be. If there's a pervasive regret, it's that I could/should have started doing that earlier, because I presume that if I'd been more focused earlier in life, I'd be closer to my goals now. But at least I have started now, and there has been progress (though the pace still feels glacial sometimes).

Taking stock at birthdays - especially milestones - is normal, though, right? And as I said earlier this year, it's good to give yourself a break sometimes - if you're not where you want to be, you still have time to fix it. A friend once called me out for making long-term plans, saying we weren't getting any younger. But let's be honest, I can realistically make it to 90 or 95. Despite this post's title, there's still plenty of time ahead of me, and it can all be more productive than the years behind me (let's be honest, I wasn't going to do much traveling or building my finances before the age of 10 anyway). Check back in a year, and let's see what I say then.

(But also check back in next week, when I'll hopefully be in a less introspective mood.)