Monday, February 8, 2010

Is a Number a Value or A Symbol?

I have a friend...a friend I met through work, but we both work in the long term care industry.

My friend is afraid of a number. She's afraid of the number 30.

My friend is currently 28 years old and the mere IDEA of being 30 hypnotizes her with unparalleled fear.

To me, age is a number. Its a relatively arbitrary number. In Western culture we measure 1 year as one earth cycle around the sun. But in other cultures, time and age are measured differently.

I don't know what is so scary about the number 30.

I suspect it is not the age itself that is frightening the birthday cake out of my friend, but what it represents.

To me, 30 means leaving childhood behind and embracing adulthood. 30 is a rite of passage that is hard earned through enduring high school hell, first jobs, failed attempts at real relationships and learning to expect better.

I think 30 is the point at which you don't just learn to expect better, its the point at which you GO GET BETTER. You make it happen.

As a Gerontologist, I look at age from a different perspective. I look at age as a chronological marker of time and also as a subjective experience. I know lots of people, including myself, who "don't feel their age".

So my question is this: Is a number a value or a symbol? Is 30 a numerical time marker or is it a symbol.

If its one or the other or maybe even a combination of the two, why is 30 frightening?

30 has "empowering" written all over it in my books...


  1. All I can say, and I am well past 30, is that I wouldn't go back to those younger years for anything.
    Oh what a fabulous feeling it is to be of a certain age where things like that don't even cross your mind. You feel very free and in control. It is fabulous...make sure you get there.
    BTW I agree with you on the whole Olympic debacle. They ran the torch right by my house yesterday and I felt no pride whatsoever.

  2. Yay 30! (But not until next year, let's not be crazy :)