Two days before I turned 30, my car broke down. As one does, I took it to my car guy.


He opened the hood, got behind the wheel and hit the gas while it was in park. The engine looked like it was going to jump right out of the car. “All your engine mounts are broken,” he said. “ALL of them?” I asked, not sure how many engine mounts there were or exactly what an engine mount was, although I could guess.


After he engaged in some contemplation under the hood, I followed him back to his office. He wrote down some notes while I peeked over the counter, reading his scribbles upside down. He then spent an awful long time typing up estimates. By the time he was halfway done, so much time had passed that I knew it was bad. Then again, I guess I already knew it was bad when the car began to groan and bump about a month ago but, hey, denial is a powerful mistress. Or mister. Whichever floats your fancy.


“It’s a lot, isn’t it?” I asked. He looked up at me sympathetically, and I knew it was probably more than the car was worth. It was. “And that’s only before I really get in there to work on it. Who knows what else I’ll find,” he said.


I asked him if he could fix anything so it wouldn’t fall apart on me as I inevitably drove to the nearest dealership for my next steel steed. “I’ll tell you what I’d tell my own daughter – she’s 30, I’m sure you’re much younger than that,” he said. “Go lease yourself a new car.”


“Actually, I’m turning 30 on Thursday,” I said, “But thank you.”


He gave me the go-ahead to drive around my crusty 2006 Nissan Altima, weathered from beach fog and 12 years of service, until I could get a new car. As I drove her around all week with the “Service Engine Light” on, I kept thinking how I got her as a hand-me-down at 19, my first car. And there I was, hitting a milestone that by all accounts fully cements one into adulthood, and my car was dying on me.


“Should I look for a metaphor in this?” I wondered. “Is the car me? If the car is me, what will my next car be?”


As you can see, these rivers run deep.


Visions of Dodge Challengers, Ford Mustangs, Nissan Zs, Chevy Camaros, began dancing in my head.


I went to some dealerships and drove an Altima and a Civic, and left disappointed in myself, wondering, “Am I an economy car?” My three-decade crisis was playing out in hot parking lots.


They say the 30s are the new 20s, the 40s are the new 30s, and so on. They also probably say that because they are getting older and would like to delude themselves. . . .“They” are also me.


Then again, it’s really not just me. Due to the Great Recession, which hit when many Millennials like myself were coming of age, life milestones that historically have occurred in the early 20s have been delayed for our generation.


The Stanford Center on Longevity studied this very topic by surveying 1,716 people in different age groups of adults – 48% of whom were women, 28% non-white, 52% college educated – about the age they wanted to hit certain life milestones like marriage and buying a home, and the age they actually achieved those milestones.


On a chart depicting the ideal age and actual age the different generations had for buying a home, all age groups charted points for both, with older groups experiencing less of a gap between the ideal age and actual age. People aged 65 to 74, for example, said the ideal age to buy a home was 27, and that they actually bought one at age 29. When it came to buying a house, Millennial respondents aged 25 to 34 indicated that the ideal age to buy a home was 27. No plot point for the actual age that Millennial respondents had achieved this goal was included, because most haven’t been able to buy a home yet. Incidentally, I haven’t bought a home either. I wasn’t making enough to do it when the market was affordable, and now it’s out-of-control expensive. Probably a common experience.


When it comes to marriage, Millennial respondents said the ideal age to get hitched was 26, but the actual marrying age of those who had tied the knot was 29. The U.S. Census Bureau found that we are getting married later than other generations. Data collected between 2009 to 2013 found that three in 10 young adults were or had been married during that time, down from six in 10 young adults in 1980. As you may have guessed from my columns referencing the frustrating and stupid realm of online dating, I’m not married either.


“For every subsequent age group, we found a linear decline in the percentage of people meeting their ideal for these three milestones,” the Stanford study stated. “This suggests that despite age group similarities in ideal milestone timelines, younger age groups are increasingly less likely to experience milestones at the age they want, if at all.” Ouch.


Here’s the thing. I’m not the only Millennial who has found delays in certain lifetime milestones to be a point of stress, or to at least cause some age-related reflection, as 30 hit.  In fact, there are so many of us that Vanity Fair has created a campaign around the topic directed at young women called #INeverExpire, a beautiful sentiment meant to convey that just because we haven’t met society’s expectations for certain age-related milestones, does not mean that we have expired like unwanted, misshapen produce. Man, I wish I had come up with that.


So, fellow Millennials, as you find yourself looking at apartments instead of a condo or house, still dating (probably online) instead of walking down the aisle, still not making the wages you really should be earning by now, or shopping for a sedan when you really want a sports car, guess what? A lot of us are right there with you.