What 28 feels like - Joel Hall

After much consideration and deliberate thought, I turned 28 years old this past Friday.

Usually, I find the occasion of birthdays to be a good time to reflect on the past year.

Now, before I illicit one of those "what-do-you-know-about-anything-you're-28" responses, this is not one of those columns about how much I have learned in my 28 years of life. I'm still learning, still exploring, and have a lot to learn about the ways of the world.

However, I thought I should reflect on what 28 actually feels like, because it certainly feels different. Here's what I've been able to amass so far:

* Twenty-eight feels like being Frank Sinatra at a Jonas Brothers concert. You know that you're awesome, but most people have either forgotten or are too consumed in their own lives to notice. Without a cadre of classmates, mentors, professors, and other reassuring people close by, you essentially have to become your own hype man. You have to start telling yourself that you are worth your weight in gold, which is sobering, but not necessarily a bad thing.

* Twenty-eight feels like smooth jazz. That's where I end up turning the dial most of the time after 20 minutes of listening to most of the new music that is on the radio. More so than ever, the music I listen to has very few words, or has no words at all, interrupted by long periods of verbose and monotone words (NPR). Phrases like, "those kids and their crazy music" are more likely than ever to come to my lips, and thoughts like, "I'd really like to smash that kid's radio" are more likely to come to my mind.

* Twenty-eight feels like Polo shirts. For the first time in my life, the amount of formal and semi-casual clothing in my closet outnumbers the number of casual outfits I have. I have more khakis and slacks than I do jeans. I have more Polo shirts than I do T-shirts. I'm not exactly sure where the change happened. In the year 2000, I didn't even own a pair of khakis. Now, I can't remember where I put my flip flops. It appears that life calls on me to be serious most of the time, rather than not serious.

* Twenty-eight feels like romance, the way it ought to feel. When you're 20, romance is trying to make out with some girl you just met at a bar or on a sring break trip. When you are 28, romance starts to feel like making breakfast together, anticipating what the other person is going to say before they say it; buying someone's favorite ice cream or snack without them having to ask for it, and watching their reaction; having someone's back when they receive rude service from a store employee; and sitting through an episode of "The Hills," eventhough you couldn't care less if Heidi and Spencer get back together.

* Twenty-eight feels old, but not too old. I have definitely reached the point when going to a college campus makes me feel old. When I am asked to go back to college and speak to freshman or participate in student/alumni activities, sometimes I think, "Why are you asking me, of all people, for advice?"

However, as it turns out, after four years of college, four internships, and several years in the working world, it seems I've learned enough to be helpful to somebody other than myself.

* Finally, 28 feels like accomplishment. Several of my friends didn't make it to 28 years old, or, because of the choices they made, have aged at a rate much faster than I.

Twenty-eight is not quite 30, or what I imagine 30 to feel like, but it feels good knowing that I made the cut to make it this far.

Joel Hall covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can reached via e-mail at jhall@news-daily.com.