Today is my 29th birthday. Please hold your applause. It’s really no accomplishment at all. Most of us hit our 29th. I haven’t done anything spectacular that thousands of to-be 29-year-olds haven’t done. I would like to take the time, however, to encapsulate some of the things that have made me most proud in the past nine years as well as what I hope will come in the final year before I become a real “adult.”
An interesting decade. A scandalous decade. I turned 20 on July 19, 2002. During that summer, I actually began my first weight-loss journey courtesy of a man named Dr. Atkins and a whole lot of bacon. The diet took. I didn’t. I lost about 30 pounds in two months, but quickly put it back on once my college diet of a double-order of McDonald’s Steak, Egg, and Cheese sandwiches resumed in September.
In my spring 2003 semester, I took a basic statistics course. Passed with a C-, but will never forget the value of standard deviations, variances, and the correlation between my much refreshed state of mind and taking 80-minute naps twice a week in class. Everyone should take a statistics class just to say they did. And for the extra naps.
I took my biggest personal and professional leap at the age of 21. Started what would become the blog Down with Absolutes! on a free web-blogging service. The blog took on many topics over its five-year life. Local, national, and international politics, as well as my love of food, music, dieting, and Photoshopping then-Gov. Ruth Ann Minner’s head onto the bodies of morbidly obese men and women. The site proved to be a colossal trainwreck, but after five years and more than 1,000,000 hits, I can honestly say it was one of my most accomplished and fascinating professional moments.
In between all of these shenanigans, I found time to earn two college degrees in journalism and elementary education, host a wild Internet talk radio show, lose 160 pounds without the assistance of pharmaceuticals, surgery, or a finger down my throat, and somehow find the time and money to purchase a house. I also actually got a school district to hire me even after cultivating quite the rabble-rousing personality.
That’s where I’ve been. The question is what will this final year bring me? Well, like any twenty-something on the brink of his thirties, I’m quite restless. I suppose that’s been my nature for much of my life. I will say this: I can say with near certainty that the final year in my 20s will provide many surprises to me and those who know me. Both personal and professional. Political and social. Scatological and sarcastical.
As cliché as it may sound, I’m finding I’m becoming a more goal-oriented person as I advance in age. True, had I not set clear and attainable goals in my weight-loss journey, it never would have happened. If I don’t set goals in relation to my next steps in life, they, too, will never happen. Short-term goals like getting my eight-mile run in today and perfecting that bacon ice cream recipe are easy. Long-term goals like planning my next career move and where I hope to live five years down the road are difficult and require a good amount of perseverance, patience, and Pepto-Bismol.
That being said, I look forward to this final year of my reckless 20s. If I could, I’d do it all again. Well, except for that extra 160 pounds.