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This Is 30
It's been a week since I turned 30, and I had been fully prepared to be underwhelmed by the whole thing.
I'd spent my twenties being a millennial product of my time, blundering through meetings with real grown-ups, eating cereal at 8pm, and just generally trying not to reveal how little I knew about the world.
This is my lot in my life, I was given to understand. No one born in the '80s really knows what the hell they're doing; we're all just playing at adulthood and trying not to be found out.
And so, as I woke up a 30-year-old last Thursday, I had fully expected to continue living this prolonged adolescence, except with creakier joints. I had made peace with it and resigned myself to never having socks that match.
But even in the weeks leading up to turning 30, my mind began to catch up with my earthly shell. I started unfriending everyone on Facebook who invited me to play Pirate Kings or shared stories about vaccines causing autism or habitually posted status updates with grammatical errors. Ain't nobody got time for that.
When someone turned up late for an appointment and apologised, I didn't say, "Oh, it's ok." Because it's not. It's not ok to be late. I am 30 years into my limited time on this mortal coil, and you're eating into this precious timespan, making me sit in an over-airconditioned cafe full of stupid hipsters who wear their hats indoors at an angle that is meant to be ironic because of "bad traffic" that we both know did not exist. No, it's not ok, and by the time I'm 40, I will actually be bold enough to tell you that to your face.
By my fourth day as a 30-year-old, I was power-tripping. I turned off the double-tick 'read' indicator on WhatsApp so that people couldn't see whether I'd read their messages. Before this, the only thing that had stopped me from turning off the function was the fact that I would, in turn, not be able to see if someone had read my message. This had been a misguided need that exists only within the yawning void of insecurity that young people harbour.
Why do I need the damn thing anyway? I'm not a lovesick 16-year-old who needs to know if her boyfriend has read her messages and isn't replying just to mess with her. I am 30 years old, and I will reply your messages when I'm done with Pilates/juicing/moisturising or whatever it is 30-year-olds do to futilely keep age at bay.
Some of the changes have been more fundamental. I've started to say "I don't agree," to things I don't agree with. I'm increasingly less inclined to replay social situations in my mind and fret over gaffes, real or imagined. If I've offended you, you can tell me so to my face or through a WhatsApp message that I will proceed to ignore. I no longer 'do brunch' unless it's a special occasion. I can make my own mediocre eggs and toast and charge myself S$25, kthxbye.
With turning 30, I understand the Trajectory of Aging and Running Out of Figs to Give that results in some of the elderly acting the way they do, and no wonder people call it the "silver years" - hogging the sidewalk, leaving their car's signal light blinking for five kilometres on the highway and offering everybody unsolicited advice.
On a flight back from South Korea several years ago, an octogenarian in the row behind me stood throughout the entire flight, loudly singing folk songs and using my headrest as a makeshift set of bongos.
At the time, as a 25-year-old, I had been sorely irritated. But now that I am older and wiser, I see hollering folk songs at the top of my lungs in a metal tube hurtling through space with a captive audience for what it truly is: My reward for having hung on this long. And I can't wait.
Update: Owing to an outpouring of emotion in response to being able to remove the 'read' indicator for WhatsApp, it pains me to clarify that the option appears to only be available to Android users and people with jailbroken iPhones. Don't worry guys, your time will soon come. Viva la revolucion!