What it’s like to be 28

I wasn’t certain whether to post this, because it felt to me that many other posts by people in their late 20s or early 30s say the same things. But I also, in a sense, treat my blog as a series of messages to my future self to remember how I used to think and this is something I wanted to send. So, I’m posting it.

I’m 28. That’s a fabulous number - it’s the sum of the first consecutive integers, primes, and also non-primes. It’s a triangle number. But it’s also ~a decade since I moved to the valley, and 16 years since I started working in labs. I feel distinctly different than I did at those ages, and have recently been wondering what changed the most. 

I decided to write down what I could think of - these are just notes, not prescriptions. Some things are good, some are bad, and I’m not sure which fall into which category yet!

  • I often doubt my perception of own motivations, and sometimes assume I don’t ‘really’ know I’m doing something until days, months, or years after the action.

  • I’m much more aware of focusing explicitly on building a strong social ‘base’ - friends and family feel more like important pillars of care and affection to build and maintain and less like transitory connections.

  • I spend almost no time with people I intuitively don’t like or am bored by, where I used to assume I should ignore those impulses.

  • I know what I want - both immediately, and out of life in general. I used to have goals, but I didn’t know what I wanted.

  • I’m much more tolerant, sometimes, of illegible, incoherent work. I’ve learned to highly value sometimes chasing beauty and intuitions, and to assume there are even some very practical things that are impossible to figure out without those instincts.

  • I used to be default wild (live life as variably as possible), I now feel much more inclined to respect and value tradition (I feel that I don’t understand it, and better respect how much useful information can be stored up in it). Tradition is different from what the majority societal beliefs currently are.

  • I understand my mind a lot better, in conventional ‘become an adult ways’ - I’ve explored most of the therapy and woo paths to some degree, and have practical useful tools from them to manage stress and reptilian brain responses to things.

  • I’m much more open than I used to be, and default to transparency. If something feels off, I’ll usually mention it. I don’t view it as my job to solve other people’s problems, at least to the same degree that I used to.

  • I don’t feel looked at all the time, and I feel confident that I’m valued for my skills rather than how I look. I used to often feel uncertain about this.

  • I have much better heuristics for when a situation is ‘dangerous’. I’ve seen friends in the ER, and different mental problems, and have a better sense for how long it takes to recover from certain things and when you should go into ‘adult mode’ and take care of someone in trouble. I also know that you can’t fix people and that sometimes you have to accept how a friend wants to live their life.

  • I’m more wary of love, but it also feels stronger when it does happen. I default to being myself in relationships, instead of trying to be someone else.