Thoughts at 30 – Where’s My White Picket Fence?


Hey, I'm there in spirit

Thoughts at 30

Well, I’ve just moved past a certain day on a calendar which means that I’m no longer allowed to claim to be 20 something years old… damn.ย It got to me… I mean isn’t 30 the age where you’re supposed to be settled? Just think of all the things I’m missing…

Thoughts at 30

Uhh… I dunno… out there somewhere…

Where’s my steady job?

Where’s my Master’s degree?

Where’s my house in the suburbs?

Where’s that family I was supposed to have by now?

Where’s my cottage to escape too when I just can’t handle the grind?

Where’s the 9 to 5?

Where’s my retirement fund?

Why haven’t the Canucks won the Stanley Cup?

It’s funny though, as I go through the list of all these things that I’m supposed to want, all these things that are supposed to signify that I’m on the right path in life… I find that they aren’t any of the things I truly desire… other than those Canucks… come on, win one damn cup will ya!

Instead I find myself with an alternative list in an alternative lifestyle. A list that I never would’ve imagined at the age of 20. A list that, as I look to the age of 35 and 40, I am sure will continue to diverge from the ‘conventional path’; will continue to become much more diverse and will certainly continue to distance itself from what others think I want, think I need.

Steady Job

I traded in the notion of a steady, well paying job forย a landscaping stint I do back home for a few months a year and random volunteer positions around the world. Do I have high earnings? Absolutely not… and I don’t want them. Yet my earning potential is increasing dramatically, and I have that funny thing that much of our generation no longer seeks in their work (or even life for that matter)… a sense of meaning.

Master’s Degree

Always thought I would have this by 30… and I’m sure I’ll go back to school at some point to do it, but the reality is that I only finished my Bachelor’s at 29… But dare I consider myself uneducated? I bin’ learnin’ in da reel world yo! Instead of a Master’s degree, I’ve experienced different cultures, lived on 4 continents, in 9 countries and can speak 5 languages… ya, I’m alright with that trade-off for now.

House in the Suburbs

I have a place to call home, a place to go back to, a place to set up some projects… what more do I need? Don’t get me wrong, I intend to set up more of a home base over the next few years, but at the age of 30, I don’t feel like I’m missing much by not having a mortgage and white picket fence. I’m certainly not keeping up with the Jones, hell, I don’t even know them, are they keeping up with me?!

Thoughts at 30

Still so close with the family


Still plan on having a family.ย This is one that I never really thought I would have at 30… Always figured I’d be moving in the direction of a family at the age of 30, so no major pangs here. Plus, I have a girlfriend that I love very much, and a new niece, along with a little bro and sis and am still very connected with my folks and my sis… as well as many of my close friends back home… No, at the moment, family is not something I long for.

Cottage on the Lake

Are you kidding? What would I need to escape from? Instead of feeling like I need a vacation, I live my life in a sort of vacation and seek volunteer positions or work for a sense of meaning, a sense of working towards something. This is certainly something I don’t miss, want or long for.

9 – 5

There’s something settling about security, about routine. And there’s something that you give up in order to get it. Churchill once said, “The country that sacrifices freedom to gain security will lose both and deserve neither” (I think he was paraphrasing Lao Tsu)… at the moment, I feel a bit the same about my life. When kids are in the picture, the idea might be different…. but at the moment, the very flexibility that this lifestyle provides is something that I cannot imagine giving up.

Retirement Fund

Okay, so all those other things are well and good, but clearly I’m not looking to the future, I’m not looking to my retirement. I’m supposed to start saving, right? It’s my father, a chartered accountant, who always ‘gives my head a shake’ when I start thinking I should be saving for retirement. He points out a few very valid points. 1) You will have higher earnings later in life, 2) If you wait until you retire you’ll have the money to do the things that your body has forgotten, 3) Your earning potential actually increases as you learn languages, experience diversity and figure out what you really want. I basically sum it up like this, live your life. Don’t entirely neglect the future, insure that you have some goals in life and are working towards them, but don’t become a slave to the notion that freedom comes at the age of 65… Freedom is yours if you have the courage to reach for it.

Canucks Winning the Cup

Thoughts at 30

Hey, they came close three times…

For those of you that don’t know, this is a Hockey reference, proving that I am still very much Canadian in spirit and connected to my roots… This team that I followed ever since I was young has never won,ย though they did come close over the last few years… They were always holding me back, keeping me in touch with the sport in order to see how well they’re doing… Now, thankfully, they’ve given me the great gift of falling right out of contention and going into a rebuilding phase. They’ve cut me loose by having no chance at all in winning the cup over the next couple of years. They’ve broken my heart and set me free… *cough, cough* okay, it’s not that bad… but still… Come On Guys!

My thoughts at 30 may be different than those of my friends back home, those of my parents and even those of fellow travelers. But who’s to say what’s right and wrong? Everyone has their own path, I hope you can use me as an example… what other people want for you is not necessarily what you want for yourself… Don’t be afraid to go out there and get what you truly want. You’ll never regret taking the chance, and your thoughts at 30 may relate or may totally disagree with mine… but at least they’ll be your own.

Jonny Jenkins

Jonny Jenkins

My name is Jonny, my friends call me Stef. I'm Canadian born, but don't find my identity based upon some borders that man drew hundreds of years ago. I have begun to make my way through the world, travelling and living in many different countries and cultures. I believe whole heartedly in staying longer and going deeper to get the best understanding possible of many different perspectives of life. In order to do so, you have to speak the language. I am no polyglot, but have started to put more emphasis on learning languages in the last few years. I have learned Spanish, relearned French, and started in on Portuguese, German, Indonesian and Malagasy. When it comes to the third world, I am willing to help where they (and not I) decide they need it... in the first world, I am hoping to inspire and motivate people to live more engaging lives.

18 Replies to “Thoughts at 30 – Where’s My White Picket Fence?”

  1. Motherofajet says:

    It is truly amazing what you’ve accomplished by 30. Amazing. I am honored to know you.

    1. Wow, I certainly wouldn’t go that far, everyone has their own path and achieves a variety of milestones unique to them… Just one of those. And I mean common, you’re the mother of a jet?! That sounds pretty darn amazing in it’s own right!

  2. Dave Cole says:

    Welcome to the 30’s! Speaking five languages will open so many doors for you in the coming years. I owe most of my income over the past decade to my language skills. And the cultural understanding you gain from those languages is even more important, as you can feel comfortable interacting with such a range of people. Cheers and looking forward to what the next year brings!

    1. Hey Dave, thanks a lot… Feels great to be here. Certainly think/hope that the languages and especially the experiences will prove to be invaluable ,oving forward, but even if they do little to move me forward, they’ve provided a wealth of memories and stories that I know I’ll cherish for decades to come ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Tam Gamble says:

    If we all lived the same life things would be very boring indeed! For some the mortgage, children and a retirement fund are important, for others seeing the world an developing other skills, like being able to speak different languages are life-changing events. Often people take the safe road because they don’t know what else to do or how to really achieve what is true to them – you are one of those individuals who, on a daily basis, does what they truly want to do and enjoys every moment! So you don’t fit a certain mould – but that a good thing! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hey Tamason,
      I totally agree with you and yet know that at times we can be injust to those that don’t have many of the same privileges that we do. There is no doubt that I would encourage people to get out there and push the envelope to find their own happiness and not settle for the path that society has created for them… However, there is no doubt that if you have difficulties fulfilling those primary needs of food and shelter, looking to travel the world may be a great stretch. Thanks so much for the comment, and I’ll continue to live outside of the mould to the best of my abilities ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Samantha says:

    Happy birthday! I think as long as you’re happy and doing what you love is what is most important. Of course we have responsibilities but if we can combine that with enjoying life as much as possible, why not?! Hope you had a fab birthday ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hey Sam,

      Thanks! Naturally shirking responsibility is not the way to further your life and continue forward, but I totally agree that that doesn’t mean you have to stop getting the most out of your life. Thanks for the birthday wishes, it was a great one ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. It’s awesome to see someone lead such a life. It really serves as an inspiration! ๐Ÿ™‚ keep travelling! Cheers!

    1. Hey Chaitanya, thanks a lot. Keep it up over at traveling curiously. Looking forward to keeping in touch and possibly bumping into you somewhere down the road

  6. Ewa says:

    You know I totally agree with ya ๐Ÿ™‚ Great read. Hope to meet you somewhere along that road! Keep on being an inspiration, darling. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Hey you, it’s so great to hear from you. I knew you’d have to agree with this one ๐Ÿ˜‰ We will certainly meet up again at some point. Inspiration?? Not sure about that, just finding my way ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. girjaa says:

    After my heart…have you read Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning? It’s a read at 30 for a man who knows meaning as the spark of life.
    Several phrases took my breath away…and you likely know which ones they are. You are a fabulous writer, with a great mix of story, humour (the Canucks), and transparency.
    wow…read, and reread… I love it!!

    1. Thank you so much Girjaa. Your words, are once again much kinder than I might deserve. I haven’t read, or even heard of that book, I love hearing about new books, and will certainly be on the lookout. Sounds like a great read.

      1. girjaa says:

        In the meantime, here’s a short youtube clip on Frankl An Austrian, Jewish psychiatrist in the 30’s, he separated himself from his contemporary, Freud, who saw man’s basic motivation as drives for pleasure and power. Frankl had already written his initial thoughts on man’s search for meaning when picked up by the Nazi’s. He survived 4 concentration camps. He later synthesized Logotherapy, describing the unpredictable, defiant power of the human being to find happiness and be healed by finding meaning in life, under all circumstances.. Lots on youtube. Enjoy…

        1. Wow… Okay, to be honest, I won’t be able to check that out at the moment as I can’t seem to find a internet connection in this entire country that supports streaming… But I will certainly come back and check out this link as soon as I hit France in a couple of days. Thanks for the link, I’m looking forward to it.

  8. Daniella says:

    Beauty post! Happy Birthday and I’m glad to see your doing wellโ€ฆexcept for the fact that you cheer for the Canucks of course ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. Thanks a lot Daniella, great to hear from ya! And don’t worry, the Canuck management is doing their best to cure me of my illness ๐Ÿ˜› … and … Congratulations on the grad, would’ve love to have been there

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