I really thought I’d feel grown up by now.

I mean, aren’t your thirties when you’re supposed to have life figured out? And if not figured out, than at least well on your way. Or I guess that’s what I had always assumed. In my younger years, if I ever looked ahead to life as a middle-aged man, I could only envision that future version of myself as someone who thoroughly had it all together. A married man? Yes. A family man? Sure. A career man? Naturally. And of course, the wisdom that would accompany each new phase.

This, as I have discovered, is not actually how life works. Just because you’re getting older in age, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re “growing up”. Wisdom isn’t just knowing more than you used to. It’s having the humility to acknowledge that the older you get, the less you truly know.

Just because the tree adds another ring, doesn’t mean it’s grown any closer to the sun.

And so I started to think about what it looks like to actually grow up. To grow upwards while also growing outwards. To grow taller while also growing deeper.

The in’s and out’s of everyday life in your thirties don’t make it easy for many extended periods of introspection. However, once you open up that door, it’s near impossible to close. Never have I had such a simultaneous flood of answers, epiphanies, and transformational self discoveries flying at me all at once. And because there must always be balance in the force, those answers inevitably come laced with their own new set of deeper, harder, and more existential questions.

So I felt like I needed to start writing a few things down.

Originally, I had hoped to just post these musings in three simple blog posts touching on the themes of getting older and growing up. But all of the sudden, here I am three-plus years later with a likely ten-part series on my hands.

I’m calling what follows a “guide” not because it is in any way definitive; I can only speak to the parts that the soles of my shoes have touched so far. I’m by no means attempting to claim any expertise on midlife as a whole. I’m writing this more as a compendium for myself: to remember back to what life was like during this time period and to also challenge myself for the journey ahead.

It’s part memoir, part advice column, part commentary, part confessional, and part gag reel.

It’s a lot, I know. However, I am hopeful that by releasing this thing one small chunk at a time it might promote some thought, perusal, or even a little discussion.

Maybe you won’t find yourself relating with much or any of this at all, and that’s fine! There isn’t anything fantastical or hyperbolic here. Just the middle aged tales of a middle class dude from Middle America. Maybe you’re picking up on a theme here?

Part of the reason I wanted to write these thoughts in blog form, is so that if you ever happen to find yourself lost somewhere down the road, these posts can be a reminder that there are plenty of others out here treading a similar path. Plenty of thirty-somethings also trying to get a hold on their mortality and significance. Plenty of young parents feeling stuck in a neverending grind of messy diapers and messier finances. Plenty of once-believers wondering where that simple and easy faith of their youth ran off to. If my hemming, hawing, and fumbling through this stage of life can save somebody just a few clicks back of me a little pain and disappointment, then I suppose I’m fulfilling at least one of my duties as a true grown up.

Because in the end, we’re all just growing up together.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” - C.S. Lewis

Here’s a rough road-map of where we’ll be going over the next few weeks and months. I’ll come back and update here as a new chapter is released. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Table of Contents

P.S. - If you’re new to me or my blog, the About page might be a great place to get yourself up to speed on who I am and just what I am attempting to do with this blog.

P.S.S. - I’m a big fan of making mixtapes for my friends. And since we’ll be spending some time together over the next few weeks, I decided to make you a mixtape to accompany you on this little journey we’re going on together. These are songs that either influenced me on my journey in the past or inspired my writing in the present. I’ll make sure to include a link to it in every future post so that you can listen along as you read along.

Images not from my personal camera roll are provided by Unsplash. Illustrations created using Assembly.
Blog Logo

Ryan Straits



Ghost States

The art of the in-between

   A Grey Christmas Home Intro: The Middle Chapters