To all our youthful readers: stay in your 20s as long as you can!
Ah, how fondly I remember that decade! It was filled with new experiences and opportunities for growth and adventure. But just as it did for me, the day will inevitably come for you: your 30th birthday.
Fear not! It doesn’t have to be a funeral for your 20s. Save the tears and find a way to celebrate. Here are 10 suggestions for how to commemorate this milestone.
- Go out for drinks! But don’t close down the bar.
This is 30, not 21. You don’t need another night that lasts until 2am and ends with a greasy chalupa at Taco Bell. You also don’t have to rip through Tequila shots or binge drink on Natty Light. This isn’t college. (Was that ever a good idea anyway?)
Go out for a sampling of craft beers instead. Turns out: bars are open in the early evening as well, so you can enjoy a cocktail or two and still get home by 10pm if you want. After all, it’s your birthday.
Better yet, how about brunch!
- Get a babysitter and have a date night.
Hey, you’re 30. It’s more likely that you’re married and raising children. While the kids are surely the love of your life, maybe this is a good excuse to take a night off for a romantic date night with your spouse. Remember what those are like?
If not, you can always take the kids with you for a night out at your local Applebee’s. (If it’s still open.)
- Sleep in: until 8am!
Remember when you used to sleep in until midday? Yeah, neither do I. We all know the maxim about early to bed…early to rise. Was that written to inspire a particular sleeping pattern? Or simply to justify natural changes that are unavoidable with aging?
But hey, it’s your birthday. Turn off the alarm, close the shades, and sleep as long as you want. Who knows: maybe you’ll make it to 9am??
- Get some exercise. Sign up for a race.
Life does not end at 30, and neither does good health. Heck, your early 30s are still part of your athletic peak. Think about it: LeBron James is still dominating the NBA as a healthy 30+ year old. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady just turned 40! (But let’s not jump that far ahead just yet.)
Okay, admittedly few of us thirtysomethings will lead a sports team to a league championship, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to spend your 30th on the couch all day. Get some exercise or go for a run. Better yet, register for a road race. Why not sign up for a 5K charity run? It will help others and help you feel better about yourself as you enter the next decade of life.
Want to reach for more? Try out a half marathon. Or maybe this is the decade you run a marathon. Remember: you are still in your athletic peak! (Repeat this line in the mirror as many times as necessary.)
- Photo booth!
Let’s face this reality together: at 30, parts of your body start moving the other direction. Hair might start to gray (or slowly disappear…your buzz cut is fooling no one!). Suddenly it takes you a couple of days to recover from a light game of beach volleyball. Wrinkles start to mark the face, like crow’s feet or unwelcome lines underneath the eyes.
This transition is unavoidable, but it doesn’t mean you lose your strength or beauty. Celebrate who you are and how you look. Visit a photo booth and bring your own costumes.
At a minimum, snap a selfie as the sun rises on your 30s.
- Check something off your bucket list.
Wait- you have a bucket list already? Guess it’s never too early to start. At 30, there are many adventures ahead of you. Plan something dramatic and exciting for your 30th birthday.
Never been skydiving? Today is the day!
Wavering about getting a tattoo? Time for the ink.
Want to learn the piano? Um…[cough] Okay, let’s keep this realistic.
- Take an international trip.
Whether it’s on your bucket list or not, this is a great occasion for an international trip. My older brother Eric was in India for his 30th birthday. He rose before dawn in Agra and was at the front of the line to enter the Taj Mahal when it opened at sunrise. When you’re among the first to enter the Taj, the wind passing through the temple whispers to you like voices from another world. It doesn’t take long for the space to fill up, and then the noise of visitors and tour guides drowns out the whispers.
My brother was able to soak in a good 10-15 minutes in the silence with the whispering wind. What a way to start a new decade!
So…what’s at the top of your travel list?
- Spend time with your family.
Whether it’s your spouse, kids, parents or siblings, spend time with the most important people in your life.
During the summer that I turned 30, I was helping at a Jesuit high school in my hometown of Denver. To celebrate my birthday, my family decided to go out for a dinner of Korean BBQ. The night went wrong in a collection of ways. There was confusion over making a reservation; we inadvertently stole the table for a different “Brian, party of 7”; eventually we had to give up the table to its rightful party and wait for our own. But hey, that’s family. Sometimes it’s messy, sometimes it doesn’t go according to plan.
In the end, we were all sitting around the table and sharing a meal together, including my three-month-old niece who was baptized a week later. That’s what I will remember most. Family matters.
- Say a prayer of thanks.
Maybe you’ve fallen away from your faith during a decade of exploration and independence where you had some fun, made some mistakes, and took important things for granted. No time like the present to pause and take stock. This could be just the occasion you need (or the reality check?) to re-evaluate your relationship with God. And gratitude is at the heart of a healthy faith life, so start with that.
After all, you have a lot to be thankful for – you survived your 20s! Take time to reflect on all the things you lived through and experienced in that decade. There is surely a lot to be grateful for, so offer up a prayer of thanks.
- Smile and look forward to what’s ahead!
I know what you’re going through. The transition can feel like a big one. It’s an important milestone. Use it as an opportunity to reflect on your life and where it’s taken you, but don’t let the weight of it get you down.
Given all you’re grateful for from your 20s, what do you want to do to make the most out of your 30s? How do you want to build and cultivate relationships? How will you contribute to a better community? How can you make your next 30 years better than the first?
A birthday isn’t just about looking back on a year (or decade) that has past, it’s about looking ahead too. So enjoy your birthday, whether it’s time with family or friends, a 5K run or an international trip. And then smile, because so many great things are yet to come.
Have your own ideas? Mention them in the comments!