Someone I know recently celebrated a birthday. They were a little surprised by their new age because it is one of those years that can be associated with belonging to a different demographic. There are perks to reaching this age, but it also changes how companies market to you and what kinds of perks you can get from certain parts of society.
Old at 20?
That conversation reminded me of the first time I felt old. I was 20, and I’d just started working at a movie theatre. Nearly all of the other employees there were high school students.
High school was still fresh in my mind, and I didn’t feel like I’d changed all that much in the two to three years since I’d graduated. It was surprising, then, to realize just how little we had in common. I don’t mean this in an egotistical way at all. I liked my coworkers quite a bit as individuals, but we were living in two completely different worlds.
They talked about parties, who was dating who, and where so-and-so got that new shirt. I studied for finals during the slow periods and wondered where I’d go after I graduated from college in the near future. I’d started thumbing through the resources at my campus career office to see what kinds of options were out there.
Obviously I wasn’t objectively “old” at 20, but working with people who have a completely different outlook on life can definitely make you feel out of place.
Old (and Young) at Every Age
I know a few people who have been old at every age since I first met them. They talk about their age negatively and use it as an excuse for for why they can’t do something. Every ache and pain is noted and shared in great detail with everyone they know. A pulled muscle or passing headache is given as much attention as a serious and potentially life-threatening illness like cancer or diabetes.
They refuse to try new things. Their knowledge of pop culture fell off of a steep cliff decades ago, and they have little to no interest in learning about anything after that era.
When I first met one of them, I genuinely thought she was twenty years older than her actual age. It took me quite a long time to realize the truth.
On the flip side, some people stay flexible. They accept the genuine limitations that may be placed on them based on their health or other factors, but they don’t use those things as an excuse to avoid trying new things or enjoying the stuff in life that they’re capable of doing.
Sometimes they feel young.
Sometime they feel old.
It all depends on who they spend time with and how they interpret the things that happen to them. You definitely can’t control all of it, but I do think there’s something to be said for remembering that being old is a relative term.