It’s not how old you are but how old you feel and my knees are telling me I’m 72. Oh hell. When did I become so old? When I was 18 I remember talking to a friend who was 30 and thinking ‘man, you are gnarly’ and now I’m that gnarly dude.
Although, saying I’m old is doing folks in their twilight years a disservice. Now those guys can wear the Old badge with honour and demand free buses, use of inappropriate comments and feet cleaning.
I thought I would mark my turning 32 with an article heavy on the introspection and for that I apologise. This article is for me to read when I’m older so I can cringe to myself and wonder why I was such an ass.
Getting to know you
I have a feeling that by the time I really get to know myself it’ll be too late. Once the dude begins to hammer the first nail in the coffin I’ll be like - ‘Oh! Now I get it... Erm can you guys… No? Okay, no worries'. I have, however, managed to glean a few things about myself during my time here on earth.
Things like - I have the social prowess of an anglerfish who forgot to turn her light on. Seriously, when I meet people, hugs, kisses, handshakes, are a minefield to me. I've settled on mild confusion and a high-five. Also I didn’t realise I was ‘quiet’ until well into my twenties and someone had to point it out to me. “What, I’m not quiet I just find it a supreme effort to think of things to say.”
I really do not like confrontation. I recently found myself physically shaking and unable to speak properly during a heated discussion over how we write code at work. My fight or flight survival skills match that of the Fainting Goat. I’m a coward. I find it easier to be more angry with friends than with strangers. It really should be the other way round.
I’m really not academic. I find it hard to take in new information. Which sucks because it takes longer to go in and is harder to recall. I’m about as driven as a sloth on a sun lounger and I’m fine with that. I don’t know what I want half the time anyway.
And I just learnt that I really like animal analogies.
Get on up!
When someone asks me about being 30 I usually say ‘this is the point in your life when your body begins to give up’. All the years of bungee jumping, firewalking, 24 hour raves, or more likely, sitting behind a desk typing really fast, have finally caught up with me. I seem to have developed a shopping list of ailments:
Tinnitus, dodgy back, RSI, painful neck, dodgy knee, things click which really shouldn’t click and I’m stiff all the bloody time. Just call me Grandpa Steve.
I have also tried a shopping list of exercises to combat these: Yoga, pilates, running, swimming, circuit training, walking, tennis, squash, Zumba, beer drinking.
There’s no denying it - exercise is shit.
But being active until my late years weighs heavy on me. I really, really don’t want to be stiff and unable to walk when I’m older. So I will trudge along hoping beyond hell that if I throw enough spaghetti at the wall something will stick. Hmm... spaghetti throwing? Now there is a sport I could get behind.
Life is good. I’m lucky nothing terrible has happened to me but I don’t really feel settled or on track. It’s a funny feeling and hard to describe. I’m in kind of a limbo. I seem to be working towards something. “It’s not the destination but the journey which counts!” the problem is I’m too busy trying to figuring out how to tackle the journey to work out my destination.
Maybe this is what life feels like all the time. It’s probably good not to feel settled. But to me it doesn’t feel quite right. Maybe it’s not about being settled but getting into a rhythm. “The rhythm of life is a wonderful beat” and I’m hitting it on the offbeat. That last line made me cringe but I'm keeping it in!
Time feels like it’s sped up. The days whizz by. Maybe that’s because my brain is active at work. We’re always on the clock having to get something done. We’re not meant to be wishing our lives away but I’m kind of glad they go by fast so I can enjoy the nights and weekends.
I’m on the edge of getting my act together to become something better. I have a funny feeling that when I get there it will be too late. Maybe if I had a house, a comfortable routine. I don’t know. I guess that’s part of the problem. I just don’t know.
Society and culture
I think in general we are, as a society, improving even if it doesn't seem like we are. Societies’ opinion on sexuality and gender is maturing: more acceptance and awareness of women in gaming and the IT industry, gay marriage is legal . To me it feels like the next generation will have a better platform to battle racism & sexism.
Politicians are still shit.
We’re more connected even if the methods of connection keep us distracted. It’s good to keep up with friends and it helps share empathy. I never realised so many people got depressed until so many people shared ‘This is what it’s like to feel depressed’ cartoons and pictures. But of course we all feel 'blue'. It’s part of being human.
There are loads of good quality stories to consume through many mediums. Almost too much. It can be quite easy to binge watch TV shows with OnDemand. The game industry is maturing and the prevalent sexism is oozing out of it like a bad wound. Film is a bit shit as it's so expensive but we have better TVs so I'm happy to watch unspectacular films on DVDs.
I now rent my music library from Spotify. So I've gotten used to being able to listen to music for free which is amazing as there is so much choice. But I've stopped going to see live bands because I can’t be arsed standing up, my tinnitus adds an electro touch to anything I listen to and live bands generally just sound shit. Recorded music is much better!
You regret the things you don't do...
I don’t have many regrets. If I hadn’t done the things I'd done, then I wouldn’t have got where I am now and I like where I am now.
One regret would be not realising things about myself sooner. I wish I had realised if you want to have friends then you have to do the work. You have to organise things and you have to turn up to stuff because other people won’t.
I also wish I realised that I needed to learn to learn before I could learn! If I realised I wasn’t academic whilst I was trying to be academic I might have been able to do something about it. I would love to go back and do it again with my knowledge now. I would say to myself ‘go and ask people questions’.
I also regret hurting the people I’ve hurt in the past especially if it was due to me being a coward.
I can’t think about regrets too much. I’m more worried about the regrets I might in the future if I don’t look after myself or attempt to make something of my life.
I hope we treat our old people better. I remember seeing a program where one older lady said the weird thing about growing old was that people touched you less. Kids grew up and stopped hugging, no friendly pats on the hand or an arm around the shoulder. It's amazing how small things can build up to make the older generation feel more isolated.
I hope we get a better representation of the country in parliament. I'm pretty sure those rich twonks don't know what they are doing.
I hope we don’t work ourselves into the ground. A basic income would be a start.
I hope we find a way to get whatever we want so cheap and easy that we realise we don’t really need it that much. I hope we get over capitalism.
I hope I get to spend more time with my parents. I've come to realise that my parents are their own people. It sounds so obvious when I say it now. To be able to realise that they are just like me and how hard it must have been to work out how to raise me makes me appreciate them more. It makes me want to be friends with them. Yes, I have finally realised that their world does not revolve around me.
That’s part of me at age 32. I still feel the same in my mind as I have ever have done. In my head I’m still the same kid running around the fells chasing dogs with sticks..
Hopefully I will be able to read this when I’m 42 and get a small glimpse of what life was like. I’m sure I will have forgotten about it all by then...
I expect that the years will pass quick and nothing much will change. I just hope it’s possible to both feel settled and go on interesting adventures. I hope I make life interesting to look back on.
If you are in your 30’s - let me know if any of this rings true. It would be good to know if I’m in good company.
If you are in your 40’s or above - first let me congratulate you on living this long without dying. (Seriously, have you seen what’s outside?) Second of all - what advice have you got for me? Come on! Give me the good stuff. Nothing too saucy mind you. I don’t want tips on how not to pop your hip during bedroom acrobatics.
If you are in your 20’s, well congratulations - this is what it will feel like when you no longer have an opinion in 18 - 30 surveys.