They say the 30s are the best time of your life…

You might ask, what does this 21-year-old know about reaching that milestone of aging? The invincible 30 mark. 

The majority of 30-year-olds that I’ve encountered in my life, have all faced the desperation of career, family, and success struggles. They are on a ticking bomb, as clocks continue to surpass their life timeline. They are that middle ground between enjoying the rest of your 20s and hitting closer and closer to the 40s. If you’re a man, society says you must have your career plans set, a beautiful girlfriend or wife, and a home of your own. If you’re a woman, you are expected to have the thought of children on your mind. 

If you ask me, the 30-year-old mark sounds stressful. 

But it wasn’t stressful for my brother, Samuel Rivera. 

At the age of 28, my brother faced a year that most would consider a dilemma. He was still living home with his family, no place of his own. He was working a tedious job with no gradual promotion or future goal. He wasn’t doing the best with his love life and it almost seemed like he was stuck. Stuck in this never-ending clock that fast forward the years he had left before he hit 30. 

So like the amazing books you read of people embarking on journeys of self discovery and memories, my brother made it a promise: he was going to travel to every continent in the world. 

It started with a Europe trip with his buddies; from backpacking through Ireland to sleeping under the Eiffel Tower, Europe was the place to be. But he wasn’t done there. 

It became routine for his trips. He hit Thailand, Japan, China, India, then out to Brazil, Costa Rica, not to mention Australia. He went alone to Egypt and even made it to Jordan, where he was able to meet our family. From Germany to Spain, Cambodia to Sweden and Peru, Africa to the Americas. He made it to all the seven wonders of the world and had proof of all the majestic pieces of our world. 

When my brother hit his 30-year mark, he had done what some dreamed of in their entire lifetime. All he was missing was one last continent: Antarctica. 

When people ask me, what does your brother do? How does your brother go on these trips? Oh, he must have a lot of money right?

I always surprise them with my answer. 

My brother is an ordinary person with an ordinary life. He graduated from college and pursued careers in almost every field from technology to acting and even going for the fire department. It’s tough out in this job market, but he was able to step foot into different career options. My brother devoted the majority of his 20s working behind the scenes at Lehman college stages where he helped run the theater department. 

My brother is a ordinary person. What made him different was his ambition to travel. He saved every last penny in his pocket. He saved it all so he could see the world. So while all his friends through the years, splurged on endless parties and luxuries, Sam was able to use it for the better. He had something that was worth more than a one-time piece of clothing or trip. 

Today, my brother returns from his two-week trip from Antarctica. He returns with less money in his pocket, a uncertainty about where his life is headed next, and a whole lot of bills to return to. 

But he returns with something that most of us will never have. He returns with the world in his pocket and two passports filled up to the top with stamps. He brings with him an understanding that life is more than just the steps you take in front of you. It is about the steps you take to places that no one has stepped. The steps you take that are far over your comfort of home. And the steps you take in growing older. 

When I reach 30, I hope to say the same for myself. That I accomplished success and sought the world out in my hands. 

30 will always be that middle mark from an adult to a grownup. But it shouldn’t be the end of your dreams, only the beginning. 




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