Thoughts on Turning 30
To say I spend a lot of time thinking about turning thirty is an understatement.
The multitude of emotions brought on by reflecting on three decades of life lived is overwhelming.
I spent the vast majority of my life operating under the assumption I would die young. There was a certain power such fatalism gave me, as senseless as it may have been. When one has no fear of death, failure, or, more broadly, the consequences of their actions, that individual can feel invincible. This almost-nihilistic attitude allowed me to flip a switch in my early twenties, which took me from a hopeless fuckup to a relatively accomplished startup founder and investor in a couple of years. In a world where nothing matters, anything can matter — and I focused the entirety of my energy on exactly what I wanted to do, all the time. Therefore, no amount of adversity I face today could ever allow me not to be humbled by what my life has become in the past decade.
But as the saying goes, what got you here won’t get you there. And thus, the past couple of years have been tremendously challenging for me. As I have begun to envision a life that extends beyond the present moment, where every challenge or unfortunate situation can be dismissed with a “c’est la vie” (“that’s life”) attitude, I have found myself burdened by a sense of personal responsibility that I have not been able to fully grapple with.
Because I have lived my life so thoroughly in the past decade, fulfilling childhood and adolescent fantasies at every turn and developing a deep sense of purpose in my work and general reason for being, I have never been forced to question my own wellbeing.
I have a borderline alien physiology that enables me to consume ungodly amounts of questionable substances and operate with virtually zero sleep (I’m writing this having not slept for 24 hours and only three hours before that, and just received back full-body MRI and CT scans that indicated I’m perfectly healthy.) Therefore, I have rarely have been forced to take a break from the unending pace of the life I have chosen for myself. Additionally, the overwhelming nature of my existence: running a startup, managing venture funds, angel investing, philanthropy, public speaking, traveling, and partying all over the planet — has meant I never really gave mind to myself. My physical and mental health have always felt so peripheral to my happiness or anything that drives me.
This may seem bizarre to some, but to me, just eternally grateful to live the life that I do, I never gave self-care the slightest bit of regard. Yet as my close friends started turning thirty a few years ago, and I made it past inauguration into the “27 Club” (the age many famous rockstars passed away), I slowly realized that I may have to grow up. Maybe living fast in my twenties didn’t mean dying young. If that were the case, I was presented with a serious predicament: I knew countless Peter Pan-types, the man-children who our society often bizarrely puts on a pedestal, despite the glaring shortcomings of an adult who fails to grasp the importance of the personal responsibility and self-awareness that comes with maturation — I don’t want to be like them. I have come close enough to celebrity to know that I have no desire, in fact, to be a rockstar. Thus, with an increasing sense of existential dread, every time I come to ponder entering my thirties, I feel compelled to grow the fuck up.
But where to start? On the one hand, I have far more professional and personal responsibilities than many “grown-ups” — managing employees, investors, and stupid sums of money. On the other hand, when I think about the areas of my life that give me a sense of balance and joy in an otherwise overwhelming and stressful existence, I understand that they are also precisely what I need to grow out of. Partying, womanizing, forgoing personal development for more immediate gratification — while genuinely fulfilling in their own right (regardless of what every philosopher and religious leader has ever said) are generally unnecessary personal excesses. Everything in life should be done in moderation, including moderation. But to be perfectly honest, there has been no moderation in my life for eight years. I have had no boss, nobody to tell me “no,” no mentors or fatherly figures to keep me in line or accountable. While breaking free of the illusion that I was somehow responsible for meeting others’ expectations enabled me to live an idyllic twenty-something-year-old existence, it also prevented me from developing a certain sense of accountability to myself.
I’m not writing this with a hint of remorse, regret, or shame. Nor do I seek anyone’s sympathy. But what I seek to outline is the framework from which I aspire to become the person I want to be. Beyond the dread of adulthood being a tangible reality for me, I’m plagued by the only regret I have: the abundance of bad habits I have allowed myself to develop and the scarcity of good habits I have created.
MadeMan, my men’s skincare startup, stemmed from my inability to care for my body in a way that enabled good skin. I needed a skincare solution simple enough to commit to with a “Work hard, play harder” lifestyle. Ironically, building this company made me begin to deeply question this way of life. The solution I created with MadeMan that I now use daily, I realized, was the first positive daily habit I have developed in my adult life. (Despairing, I know!) But as I have built a company called “MadeMan,” which seeks to reimagine masculinity for the 21st century from a positive lens, I’m constantly being challenged to figure out how to be the best man I can be.
Despite the debauchery and decadence, I know I am a relatively virtuous individual, and I’ve been deeply committed to philanthropy ever since I became wealthy. Yet, to be a “Made Man,” I understand that more is required than just being a good person. I need to be an exemplary person. The best time to fully embody the “positive masculinity” I seek to inspire with my brand was three years ago when I started the company. The second best time is now… and it feels so suitable for reasons I probably would have scoffed at just a few years ago.
They say the “Age of Aquarius” is upon us. I’m an Aquarius. I’m not a big astronomy guy, but I learned recently that I was born at 22:02 on 01/22/92, and when I shared that, someone pointed out that when you add those numbers together (2+2+0+2+0+1+2+2+9+2), you get the number 22. I turn thirty on 1/22/22. Despite my general skepticism of the occult, I’d love to speak to a numerologist who could perhaps give insight into what they believe this all means (feel free to send them my way.) Though I am not predisposed towards superstition, I am deeply spiritual. And from that spirituality comes a sense of knowing that I am meant to make a profound and positive impact, and the time for that impact to be realized is upon me. I can feel deep in my bones that the moment for change is now. A sense of personal accountability is dawning upon me, and I’m ready for the challenge.
I write this so anyone who cares about me can develop a sense of where my head is at right now. I’m not fucking around anymore. After two decades of being totally lost and confused, I have had so much fun and achieved so much glory in the past decade. But now that I’ve experienced so much fun, it’s time for me to lock in, grind hard, better myself, and truly discover what glory means… and it will stem from hard work in every aspect of my life. I don’t need to party every weekend or go on every amazing trip anymore. I don’t need to ingest substances to have fun or mitigate stress. I know better, and I can do better.
If I’m not dying young, then I’m just getting started, and I like the sound of that!