Heaven Is Not a Yearbook

With the exception of football freestyle, an activity I can no longer pursue outside of a few juggles in my garden, I don’t have a lot of interesting hobbies. In fact, I barely have hobbies at all. Neither does my girlfriend. We don’t skate ski. We don’t do bike trips across the country. We’re not going to an art gallery opening every other week.

We work. We run our household. We play some video games or watch a movie at the end of a long day, and every now and then, we go out for a nice meal, a walk, or some other activity, potentially with friends. And you know what? We are perfectly happy. Life is simple, and simple is enough.

Two years in, I’m getting the sense that where, in your 20s, you were “supposed to” party, slack off, and screw around — both in your career and otherwise — your 30s offer a different kind of social game. Two, actually. The first is house-marriage-kids, and though there’s nothing wrong with that, I don’t quite understand why some people insist on doing it all within a year. The second is the one we might play for a few years before. Fueled by your first few career wins and real money coming in compared to your student days, we could call it, “How much cool stuff are you doing?”

As it turns out, in your 30s, it still isn’t cool to say, “Oh, I’m just working really hard, and that’s about it.” Big surprise. What you’re supposed to say over a fancy, $100 sushi dinner, is more akin to, “Well, last weekend we went to London for some shopping. This week, we’re collecting our new ice climbing gear and doing a wine tasting class, and next month, we’re off to the Azores for our windsurfing class.”

While statements like this might get you a lot of brownie points with friends, they’ll also ensure your wallet is perpetually empty, even if you make thousands of dollars each month. But with that kind of schedule, when are you even making those dollars? At the very least, it might not last very long if your mind is always on your next cool event or vacation.

You know what I’d rather do than sound interesting at parties? Own $10,000 worth of stocks. Get along with my partner. Have a clean apartment. Yes, the bar is low, and the list is long, because while there’s no rule that you can’t have fun in your 30s, there’s also no rule that says you need to keep playing a more expensive, time-consuming version of Society’s Silly Games™.

Not only do those games often end up compounding your life into the wrong direction, but social credit is not a currency you can take with you when you die. Whatever afterlife you believe in — if any — do you really think anyone’s going to ask you about your hobbies when you get there? “No golfing? Less than 50 countries visited? No TikTok account? Sorry, we don’t want any party poopers here — straight to hell with him!”

At the very end, all that will be left are a few poignant memories, a varying level of pride about your accomplishments, and, if you’re lucky, a handful of people you love. Heaven is not a yearbook nor an award ceremony. If you enjoy travel, new experiences, and eclectic pastime activities, by all means, enjoy them for their own sake — but if you feel caught up in a weird game of keeping up with the Joneses, know that you can stop playing any time.

It’s okay to be “boring,” normal, and live a simple life. As long as simple means happy, simple will always be enough.