There’s this NY Times article that both normalizes the 30th birthday and simultaneously makes it a lot more intimidating.
The writer starts by letting us know that the 30th birthday has now become an occasion to celebrate, complete with champagne and festivities. There’s no more need to be embarrassed or to hide from this landmark birthday. Great news! The 30th has become a cool rite of passage- the contemporary sweet 16.
Then the article takes a strange turn and inflates the birthday party to epic proportions, with celebrations so huge that entire Facebook friend lists are invited from different stages of life (the piece is from 2003, so FB isn’t referenced…but 600+ people were invited to these birthday parties using some means of communication…and I’m impressed this was done without Facebook, actually). For some of the parties, there are invitees from the “life stage”s of age 0-6, 6-18, College, Post-College, and Work. These behemoth blowouts strike me as more overwhelming than the 30th birthday itself.
I mean, I’m glad that 30th birthdays are getting to be more cause for celebration than intimidation, but I don’t think that making my birthday party into a networking event would make it any more fun. In fact, that kind of party seems terribly uncomfortable. I don’t think I’d know what to say to the hundreds of people I hadn’t spoken to in years. That is, if they even showed up.
I’m happy to celebrate with the same close group of friends I always celebrate with. For me, having my favorite people still with me after all this time is good cause for a party.