January, month of fresh starts. The coldest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the hottest in the Southern. Ianuarius in Latin, from ianua—literally the door of the year.
I've not been much one for resolutions in the past, but coming out of 2017 and looking squarely down the barrel at thirty, at entering my fourth decade, I've been...resolute on a few things.
Stop me if you've heard this before, but I don't think I fully appreciated the impact my twenties had on me until I was really able to count the months to my thirties on one hand.
To a degree, that's because I've been exceptionally lucky to tick off some of the archetypical twenties activities beforehand—I've been fortunate enough to travel, I've had the support of both my family and a family of friends to follow where my passions take me. Sure, maybe I partied less than your average twenty-something. I probably have fewer "horribly embarrassing things from my twenties" stories. Maybe I never made a 30-under-30 list (those are probably bullshit anyway).
What I did do, though.... Wow, what I did.
- Came to terms with who I am, what I value, and what I can help make happen. Yeah, yeah, "Says every millennial ever," but really, I learned to listen to that voice inside that says "This is right" or "This is wrong," and more importantly, when to say "We can change this." One of the biggest realizations that I've come to is that every man or culture-made thing around us was built by someone who's likely not all that much smarter than any one of us, fundamentally. Making a change starts with seeing where something can improve, then having the courage to chase it.
- Got a BFA in Fiction, then an MFA. Helped publish so many lit journals full of other great writers and artists.
- Met, learned from, and bonded with a ton of great people—writers, artists, storytellers, marketers, colleagues, friends and humans.
- Wrote most of a pretty great novel. And we're picking it back up this year. Reading over it after some time away, the lesson from that last bullet packs a punch. This is not your "I'm a witty brand" kind of writing, this is a messy human story about technology and how messy and human it can actually be.
- Started a pretty great job where I'm helping make impossible things happen every day.
- Released some cool apps, starting with a McRib Finder. Believe me, ask 2010 Zach what he thought his first app on the App Store, if he ever actually released one would be and he probably wouldn't have said a McRib Finder—but I wouldn't trade it for the world.
So going into my thirties, I want things to be just as impactful. For the last couple months, I've been working on a few goals. Consider this part manifesto, part me publicly keeping my ass in gear:
- Be more active. I feel better with regular exercise. I'm down a little more than ten pounds since Oct/Nov, and it's just great
- Be more social. I moved to Chicago without a job, then had grad school. I'm finally at a place where I'm comfortable, but the "work hard" ethic hasn't been followed with near enough play. It's time to build a deeper community so the next decade can be as full as the last. Invite me to things, I'm working on being more engaged and present.
- Do more (preferably good). You don't put a dent in the universe by sitting on the sidelines. I'm putting more time into helping—whether it's with PolitiCall or helping someone explore an interest. There's nothing to be gained from sitting on stuff I know without giving back in one way or another.
I really fell into Doctor Who in my late twenties, particularly around Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor, the Doctor unsure of what kind of man he is. The Doctor who realized, it's about more than being good—it's about being kind. So, preparing to regenerate, so to speak, I keep thinking about the last words of Twelve before Twelve became Thirteen:
Here's to laughing hard, running fast, being kind, and—I'll add—loving every minute of it.