“Age is just a number.”
I hear that all the time. It usually is said by someone who is surprised to find out how old I am. I’ll meet someone new, and we’ll be talking about something in pop culture, and I’ll mention a show or song from my youth that they never heard of. This is when the age discrepancy comes out. Sometimes, it’s in the decades!
And then, they’ll say, “well… age is just a number.” It’s become so cliche that I hear it so often.
But it isn’t just a number, is it?
I totally get what they are saying. Just because you are a certain age doesn’t mean you should feel that age or act that age. We all know people in their eighties who act like teenagers and people in their twenties who act like life is over. I still feel like I’m figuring things out. I feel like I haven’t become an adult just yet.
I guess the “age is just a number” phrase bothers me because it doesn’t need to be said. It’s like the other person is trying to say something to console me when I don’t need consoling.
I was watching some stupid movie on Netflix a few weeks ago. It was called “The Secret: Dare to Dream” (I had to look it up because it was so mediocre). A man was at a birthday party for a female friend of his. And she had a teenage daughter. The daughter was talking about s’mores and the man mentioned how he loved those.
“How do you know about s’mores?”, the young girl asked.
“You don’t get to my age without having lived a little,” he said.
I loved that. You don’t get to my age without having lived a little.
To say age is just a number like saying the time on the clock is just a number. It’s like saying the odometer on your car just displays a number. It’s like saying the number on the scale is just a number.
I’m the first to admit that I freak out on milestone birthdays. Next week I turn 50.
When I turned thirty, I asked what I was doing with my life. Everyone I spoke to who was over thirty talked about how I had nothing to worry about. I wondered if I was on the right track. Am I living my life to its fullest, etc. Shortly afterwards, I started Overpass. I stopped being a permanent employee. I looked at people in the same job I was in at the time who had been there for twenty years and it scared me.
When I turned forty, I freaked out again. Overpass existed, but I really just did contracting with it. After years, I hadn’t really found any clients. It wasn’t moving as fast as I hoped. Maybe I wasn’t taking it seriously enough. And … forty? That seemed like such a huge number. That same year, I created my first app. Later, I started the YouTube channel.
That “just a number” is what forced me to push myself out of homeostasis. It allowed me to evaluate where I was settling and to remember all the goals and dreams I had but stopped trying for. I never feel like I’m over the hill or that life is over. I’m just getting started. But it’s a nice time-check to let me know that I might be spending too much time on the things I’m not that interested in.
It’s funny how we always assume everyone else is the finish product but we are still a work in progress.
I definitely feel like a work in progress. I wish I could wear a sign that says “under construction. Please excuse my mess.”
I’m not done. I plan on living a little.
And I look forward to my fifties.