How to Approach 30

Come out of the confusion and deep identity formation that characterized your mid-20s with a stable personality, non-angular beliefs, and amorphous ideals. Experience at different moments, according to the situation, the range of emotions one can traditionally feel – joy, sadness, calm, excitement, nervousness, empathy, compassion, detachment, worry, triviality – but experience them somewhat from a distance, as in, experience your experience of them while at the same time experiencing them at the immediate degree. Understand your general emotional climate in terms of a line graph – it just looks like a low level wave, rather than successive J-curves, or something – and, ultimately, feel that your life is destined to be OK, but ultimately mundane. Actually, you haven’t concluded on that; your life might actually be destined to be mundane, but ultimately OK.

Regardless, feel troubled by all that; very troubled. Contrast this understanding with your very stable sense of comfort, acceptance of reality, and your perceived ‘limits’ of reality. Visualize your perception/ mindset as within a balloon inside your head. Beyond the balloon is an unattainable, incomprehensible set of beliefs capable of making you a better person that if attained would absolutely enable you to experience unmitigated feelings of both pain and pleasure, which is somehow your idea of ‘what it means to really be alive.’ Inside the balloon is the comfort and secure ‘you,’ which is somehow your idea of ‘what it means to be a normal, healthy individual.’ Feel attracted to both life inside the balloon and life outside the balloon; the former because, as told, it’s comfortable, stable, and safe; the latter because it’s wild and free and intense.

When you were mid-20s, you realized the extent to which ideals and theories could take you, so as you approach 30, understand reality’s limits to be unfortunate. You can not experience maximum pleasure without opening yourself up to maximum pain; ‘dreams’ are theoretical and therefore impossible to realize fully; your ‘dream girl’ cannot exist, and that is why she is your ‘dream girl’; there is in essence a ‘boring’ or non-fantastic side to all people, places, and things; personal narratives tend to be factually inaccurate and cliche; concepts such as ‘greatness’ and ‘satisfaction’ do not and can not exist in any sort of complete state. The way people perceive the world is flawed, and so feel unable to buy into any of the fantastic concepts that permeate culture, especially ‘uninhibited joy,’ ‘being happy for the rest of one’s life,’ ‘being depressed,’ and etc. Ultimately, just hardly believe in any pure concept because there are way too many qualifiers involved.

As for the beliefs that you actually believe in, don’t believe in them entirely. Be ready to drop any of them if there’s a certain amount of contextual discomfort involved. Feel like your life is invariably broken for this, but if you want to approach 30 in any satisfactory sense, still think you’re smart, and that your intelligence will eventually bring you to a completely undefined salvation/ redemption scenario which will without a doubt never occur in physical reality. Think you’re highly logical; that you’re better than everyone else. At the same time, maintain a contradictory fear – which makes its presence known as both really intense flashes in which you experience very self-disparaging revelations and as a sort of low level albeit ‘deafening’ feeling of being not worthy to say hardly anything in group settings or to certain individuals – that you’re basically just a complete fool, an idiot no better than anyone else, nothing special, nothing major, nothing, really.

And so generally, approaching 30, you should view your life as problematic but acceptable. Acceptable but problematic. Be happy about your life, but be really worried about your life. Understand yourself to a high degree, but don’t really understand yourself at all. Give up at understanding yourself, then glean unusual clarities by whatever situational occurrence. Have a functional worldview and set of behaviors while at the same time having no control over mini-phases of happiness and ‘feeling down,’ mini-phases of love for your partner and dismissal of your partner, mini-phases of intellectual interest and intellectual apathy, mini-phases of contentment and anxiety. Find yourself one day unexplainably really happy – but not extremely happy, and find yourself one day unexplainably really fucking depressed, but not that fucking depressed. In turn, just find everything completely predictable and safe – nothing can happen outside the structure you’ve come to understand, and let this depress you greatly, and let it be the source of your motivation and happiness. TC mark

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