The problem is that we overestimate what we can achieve in the short term… An hour, a day or a week.
And we underestimate what we can achieve in the long term… A month, a year, a decade, a lifetime.
I remember a good few years ago, having a conversation with my mum, and she was telling me about getting older. She said that as you age you may look different but inside you’re the same person. In many ways you still feel and think the way you did when you were much younger. At the time I couldn’t grasp the idea… But fast forward over a decade since this conversation and I’m now 3 months from my 36th birthday and you know what? I think I’m starting to get it.
Sure, I’ve started tucking my shirts in, pulling my socks up, using tooth picks and peeing way too many times in the night for my liking… All things I contribute to getting a little bit older… But in my head, I still feel 24.
Time goes fast, I think we’ll all agree on that. But I’m slowly warming to the idea that if we can figure out just how to get our head out of our ass we’ll see that we have all the time we need.
Now when you’re under 10 years old… You don’t even count… if life were a book you’re just the shiny sleeve that adorns it. All the real substance is on the pages inside.
In your teens… you’ll make lots of mistakes. But don’t worry everybody does, some of them you’ll regret but most of them you won’t because you’ll struggle to even remember them in later life…
In your 20’s… Don’t worry you’ll still make lots of mistakes, bigger ones and more important ones, but this is where you start to build that life experience that old people speak of… And as somebody in there mid 30’s now I just wish I could tell the 20-something me… “don’t worry, you have so much time, time to sort your head out… time to discover a passion… time to kick bad habits… time to develop new better ones… time to find a direction… time to discover your purpose… And you know what? Even if you don’t, you have 10-15 years on me, and let me tell you I feel so young… You have all that time, you may use it well or you may waste it… either way you’ll be mid 30’s just like me… and you’ll see for yourself… it doesn’t feel old… it doesn’t even feel like you’ve even got going yet… if you think long and hard about it… there is still so much time… Hey fingers crossed… but hopefully we’re not even half way there yet!!
When your 30’s hit I think your own mortality starts to become apparent that indestructible feeling you had in your 20’s disappears when you experience your first 30-something hangover… You probably won’t make as many mistakes here but the capacity for you to make some absolute clangers is still very much a reality. You will have at least one chronic sporting injury by the time you leave this decade of your life. You will begin the never-ending futile battle to look as good as you think you did in your early 20’s… You’ll inexplicably start to make noises when you sit down, stand up or pick things up from the floor and yet you will still feel young!
I taught myself to do a handstand in my 30’s, I decided to stop drinking, I studied to become a yoga teacher, I’ve visited places and tried foods for the first time, I decided to start drinking again and there’s still so much time of my 30’s still left to go.
The world continues to offer up so many challenges and opportunities it’s hard not to feel like a teenager still at times as you deal with it all. I’ve worked the same job now for over ten years… It feels like a lifetime and yet if it all ended tomorrow I’d still have time to fit in another three 10-year careers before I retired. That thought alone helps me to feel young and stay motivated, to not be defined by my past… My future is yet to be decided… The best is yet to come… If you let it.
Now any decade after your 30’s I clearly would be ignorant to try and speak about too much… But I have a feeling I’ll / we’ll all still feel young if we want to… and I have proof with the many friends I have at all kinds of ages still training hard, still trying new things, still learning new skills.
Just as in our 30’s, in our 40’s we must hope to continue to ignore the past as best we can. It does not define us! There was no ‘good old days!’ they just seemed better as you reminisce. I pray not to become a victim of this type of thinking, idolising the past and not fully exploring the future.
Moving past my 30’s I’m concerned the negative talk that we may have spoken to ourselves with in varied doses as we’ve moved through life may start to multiply at a previously unseen rate. So I hope to work to increase the quality of my self-talk… and be kinder to myself… I’m starting to come to terms with myself on new levels, I know my strengths and my weaknesses. I hope to work on areas that have held me back in the past and learn new skills that will help me move forward in life.
Come on, by now we’ve had quite a while with ourselves, we should know the truth by now... I wish for you and myself that we never settle for the pigeon holes the world has assigned us to… Introvert, Insecure, Fat, Boring, Lazy, Lonely, Grumpy, Past It… In this decade, just like any that follow, we can be anything we want to be… And despite popular belief we still have the time to do the work to make it so, if you really want it.
Forget about… “you did or would have done that when you were younger, this is just how you’ve always been, this is how you’ve always done it, your time has passed, you’re too old, it’s too late!”
And as I sit here writing this I hope I read this back one day in a few years and am happy to discover that I’m not employing these excuses! I haven’t taken the easy way out by doing nothing but grow old… I pray that instead of ‘growing old’ I’m motivated still simply to continue ‘grow-ING’.
Constantly trying to change the narrative in my head that says I can’t, always looking to do the work every day for as long as I possibly can to improve my life in whatever ways I deem appropriate at the time for myself and those important to me.
Every day we should want to tell ourselves and the world a different story. Not the story that our past or our own negative self-talk has us as the lead character in, but the story that that 24 year old brain in that 34, 44, 54, 64, 74, 104 year old body wants today’s or the future’s story to be.
Never give up on looking to feel more content with life, the pursuit of happiness if you will, now that’ll be different for us all… but never give up on it. No matter how old you are… there’s still time to work on building your self-confidence, to exercise and eat well to fill yourself with new levels of energy, to seek out new ways to have fun, to create new amazing relationships, to fall in love and to spend plenty of time ROTFL whlst doing it all.
This is a challenge to the future me reading this...
Hey boyo… I hope that Instead of settling into that old age you’ve remembered all that you said in this post here today and that you’re pushing yourself harder than ever before no matter your age...! And that if you have lost your way… that’s ok… old people make mistakes to...!
But guess what...? So long as you still have a heartbeat it’s far from too late or over, you still have time, so you better get started!