Is 30 Really The New 20?

According to Forbes magazine, I am scientifically less likely to become famous now that I’ve turned 30. I guess deep down, I always knew this day was coming. I mean, I’ve had a taste of fame that left me wanting more after being recognized at the odd party for my burlesque booty shaking or my wry and witty take on sex and relationships, but I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a celebrity.

Forbes cites a study in a January 2011 issue of Science magazine where the researchers measured fame and celebrity by the number of times a person’s name was mentioned in books at the time. It seems that in every year since they started measuring the age of famous people, it dropped lower and lower. In the early 19th century, the average famous person attained their celebrity by the age of 43 By the mid 19th century, that number plummeted to age 34. About a hundred years later in the mid 20th century, the average median age of fame was 29, the age I just passed.

One thing the study did not take into consideration was the effect of other media like the internet on fame, which will certainly cause the median age of fame to plunge even lower.

When I was younger, I guess I thought I’d have it all figured out by 30. By the time John Lennon was my age, he’d already had 27 #1 hit records and the Beatles had just broken up. Orson Welles co-wrote, directed and starred in one of the most critically acclaimed movies of all time, Citizen Kane. I’ve published a few poems in student journals and co-written and performed in a hit Fringe play that was torn apart by some of the critics but beloved by the fans.

By the age of 30, Dr. Ludwig Zamenhof of Warsaw had invented a whole new language called Esperanto and Niels Bohr had published his revolutionary theory about the atom. I’m lucky if I can string 500 words together every week in English, my mother tongue.

Before turning 30, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin explored new frontiers as the first person in space and Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic. In the past decade, I became the person in my extended family that lives furthest away from home, and I’ve done my fair share of exploring myself. I’ve been the most-traveled person in the room from time to time, and I hope to see more exotic locales in my next few decades, eventually satisfying my goal of setting foot in all the continents.

While I may not be a billionaire, like Bill Gates, the first person to ever attain this status by the age of 30, I have a relatively comfortable life that affords me many pleasures. Sure, I may not be able to persuade bankers to lend me $80 million dollars to buy a hotel like Donald Trump did before the age of 30, but I have convinced my credit card company to raise my limit way beyond my means.

According to Glamour magazine, by the time she is 30, every woman should have a piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family. I don’t even have single piece of furniture that didn’t come from the street or a Craigslist ad.  She should own a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill and a black lace bra. My tool collection consists of one of those screwdrivers with interchangeable heads, which I’ve somehow misplaced all of, a hammer with a bottle opener on the other end and a bunch of nuts and bolts for long-since gone Ikea furniture. And personally, I always found a red sequined triangle bra & G-string did more than black lace.

By 30, every woman should live alone, which they qualify with “even if you don’t like to”. Not only do I know how to live alone, I revel in it. Being self-sufficient is a skill that I honed in my 20s, one that I highly recommend. Other important skills I acquired in my 20s include rolling a decent joint, pulling a perfect pint, solving the entire New York Times Sunday Crossword and making homemade macaroni and cheese that will make you weak in the knees.

Sure, turning 30 may be a little bit scary but I wouldn’t trade it all in to turn 20 again.


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