Age does not have a reading level. There are no rules or expectations. I suppose growing up we all share curriculum milestones (like reading in the first grade) and pass certain legal milestones (driving at 16). But even those vary from place to place. I first suffered algebra in fifth grade (I guess most schools teach it in seventh?). Our bodies change at different rates and over different periods of time. The whirlwind of life introduces different things to different people at different times. A classmate of mine skipped high school altogether and graduated USC before he could legally vote or upgrade his provisional driver’s license. Some have children in their teens; others wait until their late thirties. Midlife crises hit anywhere between 31 and 64. The older you get, the more everyone diverges from a standard path.
Age has very little to do with maturity. A man hardly three years older than I runs an international multi-billion dollar company with close to a billion users in his back pocket. We’ve all seen our fair share of childish adults. Maturity can be circumstantial – like playing with friends versus giving a corporate board presentation. It can also be environmental – growing up with only adults around in a large city versus never leaving a small group of friends your age in a rural small town. No matter how life is served to you, age matters very little in the grand scheme of things. You do not need to sit around and wait for some magical date. Put on your game face and go. I’m fortunate to have a game face with real facial hair so that the big kids take me more seriously. But I sincerely hope the course of my life, relationships and accomplishments have had very little to do with that. You have a choice to be who you want to be, when you want to be.
Acting your age? I have no idea what that means.
Plan things to look forward to.
Live in the moment, not just the past.
Celebrate often. Don’t complain.
Find something creative to do.
Get up, dress up and show up.
Get outside everyday.
Take care of your body.
Accept that doctors are not perfect.
Do not seek sympathy for being old.
Love and forgive everyone.
We all have a lot to learn from elders. Even from a young age, I embraced relationships with older people. Many peers accused me of sucking up to adults, but they missed the point entirely. I enjoyed the company and exposure to the experiences of older people. By engaging with adults, I picked up on a lot of necessary skills, knowledge and behavior that continue to help me in social and professional circles. Sure, relationships with mentors help personalize education and augment exposure to curriculum outside the mainstream. Sure, relationships with babysitters and supervisors help reinforce a level of trust that enables freedoms most subservients fail to earn. I developed relationships with superiors that accelerated my success and opened doors otherwise unbeknownst to me. To this day, I embrace and pursue relationships with people – regardless of age. Young or old, it doesn’t matter. The older you get, the less age matters. Age only matters with liquor and cheese.
Growth is an awkward and confusing experience. By building on the old and bringing in the new, life mixes up and turns to chaos. Oftentimes, you experience bumps and bruises. In the worst of situations, there may be casualties. Whether you like it or not, that’s the name of the game. The only way to stop growing pains? Stop growing. Or die. I endorse neither. Growth and change are instrumental to life. Hell, they’re key to adaptation and survival. Suck it up, learn to love the pain and enjoy the ride.