January 3, 2013
Today is my 30th birthday. It seems unreal to me, but it's true. I double-checked and everything.
I began writing on the internet as a 19-year-old in 2002 and back then a big part of my identity, for better or worse, was being extremely young. Hell, this blog was started in large part out of boredom while home from school for the summer and the first post was written on August 1, 2002 while I was literally sitting in my bedroom at my mom's house. Not quite the old "blogging from his parents' basement" cliche, but pretty damn close.
In the months that followed I wrote about moving back into my dorm room and getting rejected by the college newspaper and attempting to make small talk with attractive girls on the bus and various other things that made it very clear I was just a kid. Even two years later, while attending my first Society for American Baseball Research convention in Cincinnati, my age was a frequent topic and many people there were amused that I was barely old enough to drink alcohol legally.
I never quite advanced past that "you're just a kid" mindset and now more than a decade later I'm still doing basically the same thing, writing about baseball and myself on the internet, but there's no 30-year-old "kid" unless you start hanging out with your grandparents. Sticking with something for that long can certainly be a source of pride and I'm also proud of the work I've done here and elsewhere, but having spent your twenties doing one thing is jarring to think about.
And turning 30 will also get you thinking, about good things and bad things and important things and silly things. By age 10 or so I knew I wanted to be a writer and I've been gainfully employed as one since dropping out of college to take a job with Rotoworld in 2005. I've got a house with a mortgage and a car and a retirement account and most of the stuff that always signified adulthood to me. And yet I still think of myself as anything but an adult. I'll have to get over that.
Mostly what I've been thinking about lately is what comes next. What happens when you can no longer cling to any semblance of childhood? What happens when your dropping out of college doesn't really seem to matter any more? What happens when you're nearly the same age your parents were when they had you? What happens when you've spent an entire decade of your life with the thing you dreamed about doing serving as both your job and your hobby? What then?
I'm as happy and comfortable and content as I've ever been since starting this blog in 2002, but within the context of turning 30 that mostly just has me pondering what happiness and comfort and contentedness really mean. I'm very certain that 20-year-old me would look at 30-year-old me and say don't change a thing you lucky bastard, but suddenly that doesn't seem as important as what 40-year-old me would say. And that's an impossible question to answer.
I've always struggled with two primary issues. One is food, against which I've made major strides by losing 150 pounds in one year and keeping that weight off for a second year. The other is social anxiety, but while I've made some strides there as well--going out far more often now than I did a few years ago and expanding my list of friends (or at least acquaintances)--fixing my lack of drive to interact with friends and strangers alike has proven much more difficult than losing weight.
And so I think about what is fixable and what isn't, which life changes should and shouldn't be made, and perhaps most significantly whether I even want to fix those things and make those changes. I'm very much a creature of routine in every aspect of my life and I'm lucky enough to have carved out a pretty nice routine for someone who prefers to be by himself, in his house, the vast majority of the time. But is that "happiness" or is that just "comfortable"?
My age-29 season was a productive one. This blog maintained an audience that motivates me to keep chugging along for another decade, getting paid to write about baseball for NBCSports.com every day remained a dream come true, the growth of "Gleeman and The Geek" surpassed my wildest podcasting expectations with 10,000 listeners per episode, and getting more opportunities than ever to appear on radio was a thrill for someone who grew up obsessed with the medium.
I've luckily never ceased enjoying writing about the Twins on AG.com and about MLB in general at HardballTalk, but I have wondered if I might also enjoy writing more about movies and television and music and comedy and more personal topics here. As someone who spends much of his time thinking about that stuff and loved creative writing once upon a time that sounds appealing. As someone with a baseball-fueled audience and a nice, comfortable routine that sounds scary.
Throughout my decade of baseball writing I've been fond of using the phrase "on the wrong side of 30" to describe a player who's no longer within the typical prime age of an MLB career, with the implication being that his value is more likely to decline than improve or even remain the same. That phrase "on the wrong side of 30" has been stuck in my head for the past few weeks and it's never before seemed so blunt and forceful. Or maybe just truthful.
I went back and forth about writing this post and then about actually publishing it, because I know people come here for the Twins talk and links. And also because I'm not even sure what my point is, although the more I think about it the more I'm convinced not being sure what my point is may be the point. Plus, after a decade of revealing way too much about yourself to strangers on the internet why stop now, right? That's me, at 30 every bit as much as it was at 19.
Mostly, though, I wanted to thank the readers of this blog because just about everything good in my life, professionally and personally, can be traced back to having a loyal audience here. And as I imagine what my thirties have in store I can't forget how in my twenties this blog and its readers enabled me to cross so many goals and dreams off my list. From the 19-year-old me with so much in front of him and the 30-year-old me with so much behind him, thank you.
This week's blog content is sponsored by Paul "Fantasy Camper" Bennett, who'll be blogging and tweeting about his annual experience at Twins fantasy camp in Fort Myers the week of January 6. Please support him for supporting AG.com.