In just a little over an hour, I will turn thirty.
Three decades. End of my twenties. The beginning of the second third of my life.
As these occasions occur, I think it’s helpful to look back and reflect on how we’ve changed, where we’ve come from, and how we’ve grown.
Ten years ago today, I was living in Los Angeles. I had just completed my sophomore year at Northwestern University and was pursuing an internship at Warner Brother’s Studios, while simultaneously practicing skydiving on the side. I had begun to develop an interest in yoga and adventure travel – and wanted to cultivate a connection to more types of extraordinary events in my daily life.
I identified as straight – had never been kissed – and went to Methodist church once or twice a month. I very much planned on being a successful director/actor combo. I pushed myself to my physical limits, burned the candle from all ends, and preached that sleep was for the weak.
Ten years later – much has changed.
I got my thrill for the unusual sated by living in an ashram for nearly seven years and meditating in an Eastern tradition. While I no longer go to church, my connection to spirituality has increased thirty-fold. I meditate twice daily, practice yoga, and no longer jump out of airplanes.
I have been kissed many times now – have come to accept my orientation as queer – and am marrying the most amazing man that I’ve ever met in just a few months.
I spent much of that decade as vegetarian – and am now not. I gave up the relentless muscle building regimes that I attempted in my teens and early twenties – and have adopted a vantage of body positivity, health, and acceptance of being whatever I am. I strive for downtime, friend time, and excellent work/life balance.
I worked in the Chicago theatre scene continuously before moving to Los Angeles …where I realized that if I were being true to my spirit, the ethos of the entertainment industry ran crosswise to my desires, ethics, and code of conduct. I surrendered a long-held dream of being a movie-star in favor of a life filled with loved ones, community, and trust.
These have been some big changes over the past ten years or so. In reflection, I can say with certainty that I am a much better man and fellow human-being for the experiences and the growth I’ve shared.
I’m far happier, healthier, open, stable, loving, accepting, uncritical, peaceful, and genuinely kind than I was when on the brink of age twenty.
I really feel that I’ve eked out a tremendous amount of maturity and growth from this time.
I wonder what I shall say ten years from now? How will I have spent my thirties? I hope the growth and satisfaction increase exponentially from here onwards.
I once met a man who shared with me his philosophy of life. He divided his life up into thirds. He said that he viewed the first thirty years to be for study of one’s self and the world. The next thirty years are for work and changing the world for the better. The final thirty years are to simply enjoy. Live it up, share love, and enjoy the life/family you’ve cultivated.
I like this outlook on life. As I enter into this middle third, I’m ready to use the skills I’ve developed to make the world around me as positive as it can be.
I’ve spent many years now in meditation and self study. I’ve been learning great depths about myself and the experience of coming to terms with one’s true nature. I’ve been accepting the scary bits, the fears, the darkness. I’ve been expanding the beauty, the brightness, the joy.
I’m ready to use this next decade to continue to grow – and to do my small part in making the world around me a better place to be.
So, here’s to thirty, Everybody!! Mozel Tov!
By Kaelan Strouse