Over on his “Living!” blog, Sam (no relation) has a post called “Don’t let your age decide your fate.”
I laughed when I saw the title, because I was thinking about the same topic last night, from a different direction. Sam writes from his perspective as a Millenial, while I’m a middle-aged Gen-Xer. He’s reacting to news stories that talk about the limitations Millenials face. I’m thinking about the artificial limitations that seem like a part of being middle-aged.
More specifically, I’m talking about the perception that it’s “too late” to start learning something new, or to strike out on a new path.
In your youth, you’re told “you can do anything,” but I never beleived it. (Except for one brief period.) Now, at fifty, it’s easy to fall into a trap of thinking that it’s too late to try something new.
This is especially pernicious for me, because when I was younger, I often told myself I was too young to accomplish some of the things I wanted to try. Wait until you’ve got a few more years experience before you try to start a business, I told myself, and never tried. I’d start a novel with some heavy themes but run aground on the shoals of, You’re a little young to be writing about that, aren’t you?
So I waited. Stayed in a job I didn’t like for fifteen years, and would probably still be at if I hadn’t been laid off three years ago. Wrote fiction, but didn’t take any chances, played it safe, and didn’t grow as a writer very much at all.
And now that I’m fifty, my inner critic is going to flip the switch to, “You were never anything special, and you’re getting a little long in the tooth to start now.”
Nuts to that.