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How to Waste Time When You Could Be Watching a Zombie Movie

Today I read one of those horrible articles that the internet seems to have been designed for, consisting of 40 tips for becoming as successful as the author: "How to Live a Full Life (and Leave Nothing on the Table) by 30." Yes, that's really the title. Normally I wouldn't publish a blog post in response, but because I managed to Come Down with a Chronic Illness (and Achieve Basically Nothing Else) by 30 and Am Currently Feeling the Aftereffects of One of the Treatments I Periodically Take, Which Causes Me to Feel High and Lose My Inhibitions, I'm just going to go for it. (Author's point #33: "Seriously, You Can Do Whatever You Want." Why thank you, young man, I think I will!)

The author's name is Ryan Holiday, and he has published several books. It sounds like he is also very wealthy, because note point #15, "Sooner Is Not Better," where he says he had a weird goal of becoming a millionaire by 25, but it didn't happen until after he was 25. I don't really know how to take that illustration, because being a millionaire by 30 sounds soon enough to me. Anyway, he writes an article for each birthday reflecting on the wisdom he has gained since the last one. The article under discussion is his 30th-birthday article. Now, I am halfway between 35 and 40 (let's pretend you can't do the math there) and I really just want to say to this little twerp, "You are a young whippersnapper and have no idea what you're talking about." But I won't, because I'm nice. Oops, I said it anyway in my mind, and also on the internet.

But I don't want to spend my time on ad hominem attacks (#30, "Don't Be a Hater," and #12, "Make Time for Real Philosophy Too"); let's dig deep into his content. For example, #1, "Do Ridiculous Things." Now this I actually agree with. The 20s are a sublime decade of trying adult life for the first time and falling frequently and painfully on your face. In the process, you'll start figuring out what you like. You'll collect memories of suffering that, in hindsight, make you laugh. This fodder is what you'll learn from in your 30s as you start constructing the life you actually want.

In parallel, he also advises that people should start long-term romantic relationships, buy homes, and have children (#5, #26, and #32) before turning 30. From what I hear, these are all good gigs if you can get them. However, it always puzzles me when people feel a need to tell other people to do these things. In my experience, most single 20-somethings are utterly panicked by the fact that they're not yet married, and those with uteruses are constantly figuring out what time it is on their biological clocks. And people make the worst decisions when they're panicked. I've seen marriage and parenthood lead to true happiness for some people in their 20s, but I've also seen it lead to stunted maturity, bad relationships, and children being raised by children. From what I can calculate, young Mr. Holiday has been with his significant other since he was 20, so he doesn't actually know what it's like to be an unattached adult. Then again, I'm the 30-something single woman sitting on my couch in my pajamas spending way too much time improving the web stats on his article, while my ovaries dry up and I clearly only have, like, three years left to find romantic happiness. What do I know? (#14, "Don't Compare Yourself to Other People") (Also, how does this jive with #27, which instructs people to "Work a Lot" rather than spend time "chasing girls or boys"?) (And why does he call them "girls" and "boys" anyway? Oh my God. He is a CHILD who married a  CHILD BRIDE.) (Yes, 20-somethings really do seem like kids to people in their 30s.)

#6, "Steer Clear of Charlatans and the Toxic": HAHAHA, ironically good advice, Ryan Holiday. If I were only following it right now.

This one's interesting:
9. Live in New York or Los Angeles (Or a City Like That) — …but not for long. It’s good to test yourself in a big city. It’s good to feel the energy of millions of people coursing through your veins. But leave before you become jaded by it or addicted to it. Leave before it changes your lifestyle.
In other words, do this thing but God forbid you actually keep doing it. At least this is consistent with #36, "Know What's 'Enough,'" and also it has an internal link, so again, it's benefiting his web stats.

#10, "The Quiet Moments Are the Best": Ah, yes. Because no one ever told us that before, in maybe a poem or an essay by David Sedaris. Just keepin' it profound.

#13, "Exercise Every Day". Because I am smart and rich and buff. I mean that in a humble way.

#16, "Meditate on Your Mortality": Spoken like a true smart, rich, buff young man (boy?). No one gives advice like that if they have, in fact, been forced to face their own mortality. Let me be real with you, folks. Life is very difficult. Some people are lucky enough to make it to age 30 without experiencing major trauma, but most humans are going to get badly beaten up by reality at some point in their childhood or young adulthood, or maybe all the way through it. Their 30th birthday will be screaming down the tracks at them, and all they can think is, "I never even got a chance at happiness." They won't be meditating on their mortality, they'll be yelling at it or going catatonic. And then they'll survive. They'll deal with it. They'll admit they're human and they'll ask for help from friends (up to and including a Higher Power) and they'll start to live lives of intensely personal meaning. They'll be covered with scars and those scars will be beautiful.

#17, "Be Responsible"; #18, "But Not Too Responsible"; #19, "The Two Play Off Each Other": Enough said?
21. Travel (With Purpose) — Nothing has wasted more millennial time than the cult of travel for its own sake.
I honestly don't even know why someone writes a sentence like that, unless they need a place to put an internal link? Besides, how does this "Play Off" #28, "Drive across the United States"? Oh, and here's another sentence that seems utterly pointless: #29, "Hallucinogens Are a Dead End." Then again, I'm high on Lyme meds, so maybe people need to be told this stuff.

#37, "Get the Big Things Right": Because people in their 20s are uniquely knowledgeable about what the big things are, and—actually, words fail me on this one.

Maybe someday I'll write my own post on this topic, but I'm tired and want to go back to violating #3, "Stop Dicking Around," by watching the zombie movie I started earlier. But first, I almost forgot to mention something. Holiday did a little product placement and stuck the cover of one of his books in the article's header image. I'm not making this up. Here it is: Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator.

I think we're done here.


SJ said…
Even his name sounds like a 20-something media manipulator.

Your commentary is highly entertaining. I was spared reading the actual article simply by scanning the headline. I'm 40, honey. I don't have to care. At my age, I smile as I shut the door on prattling door-to-door salesmen who are your age. Trust me, it's worth getting to this stage of life.

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