Noted R&B crooner and closet connoisseur R. Kelly once wrote that age ain't nothing but a number.
Now, considering he penned those lyrics as a grown-ass man for teenage singing sensation Aaliyah while they were widely rumoured to be romantically involved (not to mention his later alleged, erm, transgressions), you gotta take them with a heaping helping of salt.
Because, let's face it, when you're staring down the barrel of your 30s like I am, your age all of a sudden becomes more than just a number — it's a goddamn existential crisis.
Alright, I can see all you senescent old fogeys out there shaking a polo-covered arm all the way from here: 30 isn't old, you snot-nosed jackanapes!
First of all, rude. Secondly, stop using old-timey words like "jackanapes," as delightful as it is. And finally, don't act like you weren't quaking in your Hush Puppies on the eve of the big 3-0 either.
Because as much as we all hate to admit it, age does mean something. It's a cultural signifier, a social marker and a self-imposed deadline to get your damn shit together. And my shit is everywhere.
Case in point: I recently ate a box of Kraft Dinner out of a plastic container that was originally designed for gummi worms. I'm only vaguely aware of what an RRSP is. I still watch professional wrestling with glee. This isn't how adult human people act.
The good news is, in the frantic lead-up to my impending adulthood, I consulted a very adult publication, Psychology Today, on tips for dealing with the permanent loss of my youth. "Success is perspectival," they tell me, using a word that I can only assume isn't real, unlike jackanapes, which is real, I swear. In an effort to tidily sum up this aphorism, I will paraphrase for you: If you dramatically lower your standards, you don't have to feel so sad about all the crap you haven't accomplished yet. Hooray!
Sorry, sorry, I'm being a tad facetious, and I'm too old for facetiousness. What Psychology Today was really trying to say was that the traditional benchmarks we've used to measure success — the house, the car, the white-picket fence — don't mean jack all if you're not happy. Success, like its distant cousin beauty, is ultimately in the eye of the beholder.
And the truth is I am much happier than I was in my early 20s. In spite of all the talk about the college years being the best time of your life, the reality is it can be a hopelessly frustrating, confusing period. Faced with the first foray into adult life, many of us simply revert back into our teenage mindset, pushing back against any expectations of sudden onset maturity.
But when you get into your late 20s, you become armed with that most cherished piece of life wisdom: perspective. And with perspective, comes the freedom and power to make your own decisions — even massively immature and irresponsible ones! And isn't that the beauty of getting older? Being assured enough in your own convictions to stop caring whether or not you fit into everyone else's narrow vision of who you should be.
That's something Whistler has taught me well. Sure, we're often derisively referred to as a perpetual Neverland where toque-sporting dudebros never have to get old or give back daddy's credit card. But for the true locals who make up this wonderful community, the decision to adopt the Whistler lifestyle isn't an escape from responsibility. It's a credo, a rebellion, a repudiation of the 9-to-5 grind that previous generations held up as the ultimate symbol of grown-upness.
So, as I peer into the yawning abyss of my own mortality, I'm going to try and keep my balding head high and remember that the number of years spent on this planet mean far less than what you do with them.
I hate to admit it, but maybe R. Kelly was right after all.