Friday, December 07, 2007

You're Only as Old as You Feel

There's a strange byproduct I've noticed about getting older. Everyone else seems to be getting younger.

While this is hardly a revelation to anyone's whose looked at today's high schoolers and college-agers and thought they look like little kids. But it's more than that, at least to me.

For years I've never felt I was quite my age. And I mean that, when I turned 30 I didn't feel like I was 30 and all that entails. I still felt like I was in my 20's or mid-20's - physically, mentally, emotionally. I was just entering the main job I would have in my life to that point (still there, as a matter of fact, 10 years later) and very much low man on the totem pole. I had no one reporting to me, and was pretty much at the call of all the clients in the health system who needed websites for their hospitals or facilities. We'd not been going to our current church very long, and tended to hang out with couples who already had kids in school (10 years ago BrainyBoy was 1 and Tink wasn't even a thought yet). So automatically everyone was older than me. Just as a matter of course.

I might have peers, those my own age but there weren't many of them. And even fewer that were younger we interacted with.

Or so it seemed.

By my nature, I'm still a big kid. Really. I love cartoons, I love the things my own kids love - Disney, board games, video games, playing with blocks on the floor, whatever. I tend to still treat most everyone around me in some kind of non-peer relationship as older than I. It's been that way since i was in my 20's, I suppose. That's why it's difficult today to see understand that probably more than half the people I interact with personally, professionally or casually are as old as or actually younger than myself.

I'll be 41 in about three weeks... I don't feel the slightest bit like I'm 41. As far as I'm concerned, I'm 27. That's probably how I'll feel the rest of my life - just out of college, newly married, young kids (although in real life kids didn't come till I was almost 30 but who's arguing). Therefore it's sometimes shocking to think of people I speak with or work with as my age.

This waitress, that cab driver, this bank teller, that politician. This cop, that pharmacist, this doctor, that major league baseball player. They didn't go to sock hops, or protest the Vietnam war, or experience Kennedy being shot, or watch the Nixon administration collapse (and know what was going on). These people sat in front of their TV's in the jammies on Saturday mornings and watched H.R Pufnstuf and Land of the Lost and Scooby Doo. They begged their parents for quarters to play Space Invaders and Asteroids and Pac Man. They danced to Michael Jackson when he was good, and listened to Journey and Whitesnake and Aerosmith. They saw Back to the Future with a date and experienced Star Wars originally, through a kids' eyes. These are people with the same experiences as me, in positions of responsibility and leadership and authority.

It can be a little overwhelming when you're so used to the older kids being in charge. They still are, to an extent, but it's your generation now and the one behind you that are really beginning the run the show. And it's hard to wrap my brain around that...

I still feel like I need to be subordinate to people I go to meetings to. It surprises me when I realize those folks watched Gargamel chase the Smurfs or those wacked out Ninja Turtles battle the bad guys...

I don't want to grow up. I doubt I really ever will (thank goodness). But I do hope I can learn to relate correctly to everyone around me, regardless of whether they cared who shot JR?

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