I’m close to finishing college and I already hear some friends whining about how old they’re getting. This has triggered my attention – how can someone in their early 20s say they’re feeling old already? How can someone that’s statistically around 30% of their life time, some at the peak of their physical performance, and who’s just starting the productive stage of their lives, start feeling old?
We start college feeling like we have the whole world in our hands, and after four years we think our life will downgrade from now on? This makes no sense.
This has put me thinking about it lately, and leading me to believe that this feeling must be an illusion that’s product of our surroundings. Let me explain:
In the occidental world being a teenager is sexy, being an adult is not.
There are various reasons behind this, but advertising may be one of the biggest – teenagers are at the spotlight of the advertising industry. And if teenagers are not their targets, there’s a good chance they’re at least the faces behind those ads.
Because this is done at such large a scale, it has molded our perception and culture – being young makes us more interesting and sexy.
Our priorities are changing.
In our 20′s we may start realising what we value and what we want do with our lives – at least for the next few years. This will make us more prone to spend our time in activities that go against those: we may prefer to spend more of our time reading about marketing if that’s the type of job we want; we may prefer to go to more concerts and less fraternity parties if music is our thing; we may choose intense workouts and a good night’s sleep over a drinking party, in case we value a healthy lifestyle.
Yes, we and our priorities are changing. But that’s probably for a good reason and because we want to, not because we’re becoming boring grandpa.
Our portfolio of experiences is getting quite thick.
You know those moments when we meet an old friend of ours that we haven’t seen in a long time, and whom we had many great experiences with? Possibly we start discussing those adventures and how great all those were. But after we leave him, we start thinking about how long ago those were, and… that we’re getting old.
I believe this is a misinterpretation of experience – our brain will associate the number of experiences with the amount of time that has passed. Even though they’re usually proportional – the more the time passed the more experiences we had – that doesn’t necessarily happen – we can have a lot of experiences in a short period of time (like in college).
We are humans, and every human seeks novelty.
Our priorities aren’t the only ones changing – our taste is also. For example, some of us may now prefer the theater over nightclubs. And you know one possible reason? Because probably we’ve went to many nightclubs already – we don’t appreciate them as much anymore because there’s nothing new.
A good evidence of this are those that, after divorcing in their 30s from a young marriage or courtship, start partying hard as an 18 year old. It’s all new for them!
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not neglecting the fact that our bodies are changing and slowly losing their abilities, and that we’ll have good reasons to miss youth. Instead, I’m trying to show that there also are a lot of changes happening for a good reason, and that we should stop worrying so much about them – we aren’t as old as we believe to be, and getting older is not as bad as the world pictures.
We should focus on making the right decisions and benefiting of every different stage of our lives instead.
photo credit: Cheska Annelliese