It is only recently that I’ve noticed that I am indeed “older,” in comparison with “young people.” This sounds strange to say but I never considered myself “older,” my mindset always had me categorized with the younger. It is only within the past year or so, with all the talk about the Millennial Generation, meeting people much younger than me with “real jobs” and realizing that my age is inching ever closer to 40, which isn’t considered young in any scenario, that I’ve realized I’m now “older.”
This realization snuck up on me with very little warning. After graduation from university I took off for Asia. In Tokyo you really don’t see hordes of younger people on a daily basis. Looking around everyone is a “Salaryman” or an “Office Lady,” and during my time there they were all certainly older than I. The morning train ride always had the aroma of Salaryman/Ojisan which added an additional sensory confirmation that indeed, they were older than me by a large margin.
Leaving Tokyo I went to Saigon and it seemed to me that everyone around me was the same age or just a decade or so older. All of my colleagues, everyone in the business community were my age; I never had a thought creep up and whisper that I was “older” and the person I’m speaking with is “younger.”
I then came to San Francisco and the city of San Francisco is an adult playground. I arrived at the tail end of my twenties and so still belonged to the “young” by the solid membership qualification of age. Then I was plucked from the masses and put in a sort of quarantine by my choice of career. As an Account Manager I no longer needed to participate in a morning commute as it wasn’t necessary to report to an office. I could work from home and my daily interactions were and continue to be with decision makers at companies, who for the most part remain older than I except for a few technology companies. For many years I’ve remained in this quarantine but one day a year or two ago I realized how much younger the general workforce has become. I find myself giving life advice to younger colleagues; I become appalled when I see their hairstyles and listen to their music; my eyes widen as I try to conceal the shock when I realize I’m speaking with a professional that is thirteen years younger than I. Just this past Saturday I participated in a bike race and spoke with a lovely young lady who is 17 years younger than me!
My mind is having a very difficult time accepting the fact that I’m “older.” I don’t like this realization but at the same time am very content with my accomplishments so far and definitely wouldn’t change anything in the past; it has all worked out according to plan and results are great!
The one thought I’m trying very hard to shed however is that I should hold a higher work position by now. I love my job and the ability to set my own schedule so it is a stupid thought and I realize it, but it is hard not to compare sometimes and people around 40 begin to hold higher and higher positions. The counter-thought that makes me feel better is that by concentrating on the corporate ladder I wouldn’t have had my experiences overseas and would see my family much, much less than I do now. I wouldn’t trade my experiences and language abilities for any amount of money and time spent with family is priceless. You can never get back time, it will continue no matter how much money is made or how high one rises. Therefore, those that spend all their time at work deserve to be justly compensated as they’ve just traded part of their life, time they cannot buy back, for money.
I realized the value of experiences long ago and understanding the fragility of memory began to record them in this blog. I love reading my old entries and I hope my descendants hundreds of years from now will get some enjoyment out of it. I know how much I would like to read a journal of my Grandfather’s or any ancestor for that matter. My Grandfather said “Don’t get old Matt.” I’m trying my best not to but it seems to be something I can only control with the right mindset.
At 38 I’ve got the feeling that this is the age we’re supposed to conform if we haven’t already. Anything out of the usual routine is considered strange and we’re all supposed to “act like an adult.” The problem with this, in my opinion, is that the general consensus of “acting like an adult” is the same as the following:
a.) don’t do anything spontaneous
b.) become more religious and make sure the kids follow the same faith because that is what our family has always done
c.) hide your true thoughts and feelings, build up an false image to display to the outside that shows no flaws and a perfect life
d.) take life too seriously; being responsible equals being very boring and not doing anything differently
Writing this blog does not seem to be congruent with being 38. Looking at WordPress.com it seems most of the blogs are twenty somethings, with half of those doing it as a class project. I don’t see too many people over thirty keeping a journal.
Yet, keeping a journal, being spontaneous etc is what those stupid Huffington post lists, feel good new age posts that are ubiquitious to social media tell us to do. Adults take a look, nod in agreement then go back to, well, being a boring adult!
In closing, this realization that I’m older reminds me of a Friends episode where Chandler Bing yells at someone for not caring enough about the WENUS (weekly estimated net usage system). After he slams the phone down his face contorts and he lets out a “whoaaaaa” as he just realized he has become something he never wanted to be, another corporate drone, no longer “young and fun.”
In that episode back in 1995 Chandler was 27 years old and I was 18. I’m now I’m 38 which, by using the Friends episode as a reference point for age, it firmly concludes that I am indeed, no longer part of the young.
I can only be grateful that my youthful face and good looks make others guess I’m about 32! 😀 Let’s go play some beer pong!