What Age Do You Wish You Were
As the school year winds down and my neighbor graduates from high school it suddenly struck me that I'm not 18. In my head I feel this age. I found myself talking with friends about this very topic and our looming 40th birthdays. The opinions of this "coming of age" were varying degrees of dread and excitement. But the next question that arose was an interesting one. What age would you choose to be?
Each age has its pitfalls and its advantages but what's your magic number?
I attempted this exercise by thinking back to my youth and the people in it that shaped me to get a better idea of my answer.
The teenage dream
We turn 13 and off we go into the teenage years. For me this 7 year stretch from middle school through early college was a period of dramatic change. Although, one thing remained the same, my lack of confidence and feeling like I belonged. This may be where John Mellencamp's "Jack and Diane" thrived and Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" took place but it wasn't for me.
When I began managing people I thought hiring recent graduates for my new department would be the best course of action. These folks would be young, up on technology and full of energy and enthusiasm. While these 20 somethings were young and enthusiastic, everything else was not entirely true. They understood how to download music and apps but didn't know the first thing about excel or any ERP system.
And here's the major pitfall with your 20s. You don't know much and therefore don't garner a lot of respect.
When I was this age I remember wanting to change the world but finding out no one wanted to listen to me because I had little experience in the real world. I was also busy trying to please others and find out what I actually loved doing. This was a time of a lot of frustration and self-doubt and for that reason I wouldn't choose to be in my 20s.
I like to call this the age of worry. This has also been coined the sandwich generation as it's the time most are rearing children and beginning to take care of aging parents. I think you now understand why I call it the age of worry. You worry about your aging family members while simultaneously worrying about your growing children. And don't forget this is also the time you make the biggest career jumps. So yeah, throw in a job with growing responsibilities in the mix and you've got yourself a big plate of worry with a side of exhaustion.
Would you choose this age forever?
Maybe older is better
Seeing my parents, and my grandparents before them, age has given me a lot of respect for old age. I see a mellowing of temperament but a heighten concern for health issues. My mother is 69 this year and has had 3 back surgeries in the past 6 years. But at the same time I see true perspective in her eyes as I saw in her mother's. With age comes patience and reflection.
In the case of my grandmother this also encompassed continued learning. My cousin joked at her funeral (she passed away at 91) that if you went to visit her you better be well read because she would want to talk about famous painters, poets, theorists and ideas. Before she suffered a stroke 9 months prior to her death she was writing a dissertation. Why? Because she felt this was the best way to master a subject.
To have the time to dive into passions and reflect does sound appealing.
I purposely left out the 30s because it's the decade I'm in and where I love being. Not because of my exact age but because I love living in the present.
I remember watching "The Truman Show" where Jim Carrey plays a man who is secretly having his entire life made into a television show. He meets a woman of script and falls in love her. In a famous scene she is seen wearing a pen stating "how's it going to end?"
This pen has become a mantra to me. I truly enjoy the twists and turns of my life and when things go awry my mind immediately returns to this button. The most exciting things are happening now .
The most heart-stopping, thrilling, terrifying, exhilarating things are around the corner. How's it going to end? I don't know but I'm excited to be on the rollercoaster known as my life right now.