“How old are you?”
No doubt at some stage of your life somebody has asked you this question. But have you really stopped to think about what it means and why you answer as you do.
Chronological age is a fascinating thing.
We use it in society to quantify a lot of things. Our teenage life starts at 13, adult life around 18, we start to reach ‘middle age’ around 45. In between are the 20s and 30s and afterwards are the 50s, 60s, 70s and so on.
Our physical appearance changes as we age. Wrinkles appear, and grey hair replaces the color.
But other than appearance, how else does age affect us? Do we actually change emotionally and intellectually inside? Is our age truly an indicator of our maturity, or do we choose to start acting differently as we age?
Of course there are no real answers to these questions, but they are worth thinking about.
This year, I turned 38 in chronological age. It’s not a milestone birthday, but still I noticed a change in myself that started to creep in. It was this strange tendency to tell people I was ‘getting older’. I guess because I started to perceive I was on the later end of my 30s, I suddenly felt the need to tell people that I was becoming a different person.
But why did I start saying this?
Nobody told me to start to say it, nobody told me to act differently because I was 38. I just started to think I should act older due to social norms.
At the same time, I started to have a little bit of envy for people who were ‘younger’. I remembered ‘being’ 28 and how much more youthful I felt. How much life seemed more open with possibility and how I still had ‘plenty of time’ back then.
I started telling myself that as the past 10 years had gone by, so had my youth.
Until I realized… I was just telling myself a big fat lie.
I was programming myself to believe that somehow I was entering the dawn of middle age. That it was time to lower my energy and act more conservatively.
That was when I decided to try something… Instead of thinking I was 38, I decided to ‘act’ like I was 28 for one week. Just for myself, as an experiment. I figured that nobody else probably cared what chronological age I was, so why not act the age I most wanted to be.
For the first few days, it felt kind of silly, like I was deluding myself. But then, as I got used to it, I realized people were saying things to me like “You’re still young” and “I wish I had your energy”.
More than this, I felt more optimistic. I felt a sense of freedom, an abundance of time and potential that I hadn’t felt in several years. I gave myself more permission to fail, and to do things simply for the passion, rather than because it seemed sensible.
In short, I started having a lot more fun.
It almost made me laugh out loud that all I was doing differently was telling myself I was 28.
Our internal image of ourselves is a powerful thing. If you create an identity on the inside, you will find it starting to manifest on the outside.
Now obviously, I am not going to lie about my age on legal documents, but for all intents and purposes, I have decided to be 28 for the next phase of my life.
It’s just a lot more fun being young.
So tell me…
“How young are you?”