Sunday, August 30, 2009

Oi! Genki ka!? Article 5: On Turning 30 (June 2007)

On Turning 30

I turn 30 this year. I'm a bit nervous about it...

This year, I'll officially become an ojisan.

The word ojisan in Japanese has various meanings. Depending on the Chinese characters used with the word, the meaning changes. There is:
1) the ojisan that refers to an older male sibling of one's parents (i.e. uncle);
2) the ojisan that refers to a younger male sibling of one's parents (again, i.e. uncle); and then there's
3) the ojisan that refers to an adult male that is of no direct blood relation (i.e. "some old dude").

All three can be read as "oji", and yet they're all a little different.

When I say that I'll officially become an ojisan this year, I mean it in two of these ways.

First off, this August my younger sister will have a baby. This will make me a genuine ojisan ("uncle"). Gaining another member of the family is always a happy occasion, so I'm really looking forward to it. But at the same time, it's a strange feeling to realize that my baby sister is going to become a mother. I knew it would happen someday, but having it actually happen makes me feel my age a bit.

Also, from a mental aspect, there's one more reason I feel like I'm becoming an ojisan: I'm turning 30 this year. Even last year, when I turned 29, nothing bothered me about my age, but as the big three-oh approaches I can feel the weight of the reality of that number bearing down on me. I know that there won't be any drastic change in my physical condition when I turn 30, and I also know that turning 30 isn't going to have any affect at all on the way I think about things or my lifestyle. It's just that I'm not quite ready to have that number that started with a "2" change to starting with a "3". Which, of course, doesn't matter, because whether I am ready or not that new number is on its way, but the days where I ask myself, "Is this really where I should be at right now in my life?" are becoming more and more frequent.

This is just an image I have, but I think that the ideal 30-year old man in modern-day society is expected to have a steady job/career, be married, and have some children, too. My parents don't ever directly say "Come back home!", but there is often a "You can come back home any time you want" in our conversations. Plus, the last time I went home, my grandmother asked me, "When are you getting married?", and it seems like most of my high school classmates have already gotten married. I'm not that far away from it, but the reality is that what I picture as "society's ideal" is something that I am not as near to as perhaps I should be.

But then my friends who are in their thirties tell me, "When you get to be around 30 years old, you tend to worry about stuff like that. That's just how it is." It's true that I have a lot of things on my mind lately, but they will eventually pass. I like the way I am now, and I enjoy the life that I'm living. Up to this point, I haven't lived my life according to anybody else's standards except my own. Starting with my parents, I have had a lot of assistance from many other people, but I've lived my life the way I've wanted to. Simply put, even when I become a 30 year-old ojisan, I'm going to keep on living my life the same way. It helped me enjoy a fulfilling twenties, so I hope that my thirties as an ojisan will be spent in a similarly fulfilling way.

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