Turning 30 gave me a chance to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes: worrying. I had become a perfectly average writer, comfortably employed and occasionally published. This, of course, was a nightmare. In the soggy trenches of the creative life, comfort is the real enemy. Many of my literary heroes fought the battle of authorship tooth and nail, never complacent, trapped in their own heads, day in and day out. Other veterans of our craft chose to rot alongside the wounded and the deserters, living only for the moment in some blur of booze and passion. From down there, at least there’s always something to write about. Very few, I must note, found gratification in a cushy office chair from 9-5, Monday through Friday, using “the gift” to anonymously advance the interests of some monolithic institution.
In other words, I felt like I either had to refocus and start seriously writing for myself, or pick up a drug habit. So I got to work. That’s half the story.
The other half? Like many people, the thought of turning 30 didn’t sit very well with me. It seemed so… serious. The proceeding decade would almost surely be filled with large financial commitments, a career (whatever that really is), hallmarks of adulthood like marriage and parenting, and the beginning of a process of bodily decay that would only get worse as time crept forward. People like Ernest Hemingway and Charlie Sheen have gone to great lengths to prove this is not a hard and fast rule, but still… I’ve never heard anyone under 30 say “30 is the new 20.” When I started to feel this milestone get too close for comfort, 30 felt like the new 94.
So before you is the product of a man desperate to write with a problem on his hands. Many timeless works of literature have been forged under such conditions — this isn’t one of them. But still, I hope you like it.
30×30 is a set of instructions to my teenage self — a little book of hard-earned truths I wish I had read in high school instead of The Scarlet Letter (which is just a lousy book to make 16 year-olds read, if you ask me. Christ, of all the books in this world). Of course I never would have taken the time to read this when I was 16, as I knew everything then and was far too busy discovering the thrill of independence and the opposite sex. Nevertheless…
This is also an open letter to yours truly, right here and now. Every once in awhile it helps to chronicle highs and lows and take stock of ideas that have survived the test of time. I must admit that I take some amount of strange comfort in reaffirming my beliefs. Religious people do that every Sunday, right? Once every 30 years seems like it’ll do the trick for me.
All that being said, this whole “letter to myself” routine is about 40% bullshit, give or take. I really hope you read 30×30 too, and take something from it, or at least enjoy a moment or two along the way. Maybe some younger people out there will read this and dodge a landmine I’ve blown on their behalf. Maybe my peers will check it out to see if our opinions align. Maybe older folks will read it and chuckle over how little I actually know. Maybe no one will read it other than my mom. That’s ok, at least I tried. And speaking of my mother, I’d like to apologize to her and all other pious readers for my colorful language heretofore. It’s not your fault Mom. This is just how it comes out.
Another apology/disclaimer: I am by no means a “guru” of anything; not even of writing, which I’ve been tinkering with for much of the last 10 years. I am not rich, famous, well-traveled, wise beyond my years, married, a parent, exceptionally talented, or any other status that might traditionally deem me “one who is worthy of distributing advice.” (Though there are plenty of people who are many of those things and are overflowing with lousy advice.) I’m certainly not a shrink or life coach. I’m a good guy who has managed to do alright, that’s it.
At any rate, the only thing that really matters to me in the proceeding pages is that I keep it real, so to speak, and document a few truths I hold dearly. They’ve served me well, or I’ve learned them the hard way. If you have a problem with that, start reading at this chapter. Otherwise, click next, please enjoy, and thanks for reading.
Yours very sincerely,
© 2012, Ian Mathias
very good stuff Ian.
Thanks Marc… it was fun.
Good stuff my friend. Especially liked 1, 13, and 27. Happy 30s!
Truly inspired! I am so glad I actually took the time to read this, I feel better off for it. You should be proud of this wonderful piece of writing, Ian!
That’s really nice of you, and I’m so glad you liked it. Thanks!
This is poop <|3
Thank you! Made my day! Now off to explore the world!
Just turned 30 a month ago and find myself nodding and smiling at a lot of this, especially going through a really, really bad #7 and 8. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone.
I’m 20, and your tips clicked with me so much that I wrote them up and stuck them to my wall. However, even though you may have 10 years on me, I can’t help but feel that you missed a crucial point.
Never underestimate laughter.
I enjoyed the read greatly, and wish you the best of luck in the future. Thank you.
That’s awesome. Thanks for reading.
Yes. Super solid addition. Exude confidence and always attempt to bring joy to others.
Will there be another?
Most likely, but who knows when? Thanks for reading.
the only thing that really matters to me in the proceeding pages is that I keep it real…
“in the following pages” would be a clearer construction…
I find myself liking it just the way it is. This first page tells you to continue to the next, so it should be a given example that you continue to do so through the rest.
This. Is. Phenomenal.
I’m a 23 year old aspiring DJ/Producer with one of those vastly overpriced Business School educations from a top 40 university (lol). Right now i feel like writing an entire essay in this comment, based upon many of the things you brought up, but remembering back to #1, i’ll save us both the trouble. Regardless, thank you so much for your wonderful insight into this world. This is one of those hidden gems of the internet in my opinion, and you can bet your introverted ass that i’ll be bookmarking this and sharing with those i love (i’m a extroverted kid with wayyyyy too many facebook friends haha).
But again, thank you, and I wish you the best in your 30’s. To use one last chiche’: Life is about the journey, not the destination.
Wow. What can I say… thanks, a lot. That’s the kind of feedback every writer wants. Cheers, and best of luck.
This looks very interesting, but I don’t really like the fact that you chopped this up to 30 pieces. Is there a pdf? I’d really like to read this on my e-book reader, but copypasting all these pages would require some time (and I’m lazy as fuck)
This whole thing rules. Honest and realistic. I’ll check back to it every now and again to make sure I’m doing shit right and not being an asshole. I didn’t expect to read the whole thing but couldn’t leave any unread.
Thanks man, take it easy.
Awesome! Thanks for reading.
Thanks for taking time to write and post this up. Stroke a chord.
Thanks for reading!
Hey Ian, just wanted to say this is an amazing compilation of life lessons. As someone who is in the process of radically changing his life to fit the scope of my dreams, your writing truly struck a chord. This is certainly a bookmark, and one I will be referencing down the line, to stay in line. Great work, my friend. Keep it up!
That’s really kind of you Steve, thanks for leaving your comments. Good luck.
Buddy, Impressive. Have not seen you in forever. Hope you are well. This is fantastic.
Christina! Great to hear from you, and thanks for reading this. Hope you’re well too.
It’s good to be reminded of life’s basic truths every now and then, because it’s just too…easy to forget (how such things are not ingrained in human memory like ad jingles or pop song lyrics are is beyond me, but oh well, that’s what 30×30 is for). Loved it. All of it. Will read again when I need a reminder.
That’s terrific. Thanks Vicki.
F’ing love it…nice work, brother. I posted your intro to my blog, and I’m encouraging my readers to check it out. I know they’ll eat it up. And though I’m still a few years younger, I was feeling similar when I started mine–it’s kind of like a travel/adventure/foolish-plans version of yours. (I think of myself less of a writer, and more of “just-some-guy.” But I do love it. So reading your posts help me to better-grasp where I am and where I’d like to go with my writing…) So now what? You’re done with the 30 posts–are you finished blogging?
Thanks for all your great comments, and for sharing the site on your blog… I’ll have to check it out! 30×30 won’t change, but I will probably write an afterward soon, at least.
Every single word was juicy and delectable! I ate that shit up. Honestly,there’s nothing more refreshing than a man with an inspiring perspective and a quit wit…thank you Ian! I’m gonna share this with all my loved ones!
That’s great, really… thanks!
I’m currently 19, and at a point in my life where many of the decisions I make will have long term consequences, good and bad.
The profound yet simple concept, that no one really has life figured out, and that no one is really in full control of their life isn’t as scary as it seems.
It’s somewhat bittersweet, but mostly beautiful to think that the journey to our destination is so volatile, chaotic, and subject to change. I’m excited to see what the future holds for me.
Thank you for this excellent write-up and good luck in your journey!
Thanks for reading, and good luck!
Nice work, Ian, some really great advice in there. Can’t wait for 40×40…
Ha, thanks… but I don’t mind waiting for 40. I promise to write something worthwhile between now and then. Thanks for reading.
This is amazing. What a great life and world view.
You have taken words right out of my brain. Thank you for this!!
My pleasure, thanks for reading.
I’m in awe of how well you summarized and presented this work. And at 30! That seems young to me now and I’ve struggled to put half of these lessons in any form as tight as this. But all of them sound like old, hard-won friends. Well done, Ian, and thanks for taking the effort to craft this and brace enough to throw it out into the world.
Cheers Jerry, that’s very nice of you. Thanks for reading.
I don’t even know how I ended up here, however I assumed this
publish was great. I do not know who you’re but certainly
you are going to a well-known blogger for
those who aren’t already. Cheers!
This is my first time pay a visit at here and i am in fact pleassant to read all at one place.
This website has been bookmarked for me for 6 years now. I first encountered your work when I was 24 years old. I thought it fabulous at the time, and have often reviewed this wise advice. It all really hits home now that I’m about to be 30 myself. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing- Now that you’re 36, I hope that you have collected more advice and will do a 40×40.
Thank you Ian.
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