I sat on the edge of my bed, gazing at the TV – in awe at how this little bald man could manipulate so many instruments to his every whim. The guitar he had strapped on was almost double his size yet his stature and confidence gave the illusion that he owned that shit.
This man was Moby (remember him?) and he was performing a TV special to celebrate the enormous success of his album ‘Play’. The date was sometime in late 2000 and I was a fledgling guitarist myself – barely having played longer than 2 and a half years but it was as I watched this performance that I had my first age related panic attack.
‘Holy crap – I’m almost 20 and I am nowhere near being a musician.’
What the hell was I thinking? I WAS NINETEEN!
I had barely lost my virginity. Hell, I was barely out of short trousers.
But this is the insanity that a lot of us go through. We compare the world around us to our age and if we somehow don’t measure up then we feel as though we have wasted our lives.
‘That dude is in his mid-thirties, a multi-millionaire and I’m here, sat on my bed, useless.’
I wish I could go back and give myself a good talking to, complete with a lot of pointing and a stern look on my face.
That would show him!
Age is nothing but a number
I did snap out of it eventually. It was during the summer of 2007 that I think I finally realised that life doesn’t have to be rushed. We should live in the present a little more and take our time. Our life is simultaneously long and short – whichever mind set you wish to have, it’s the correct one.
The truth is we all panic about our age. Society suggests that turning 30 is some huge milestone – the cut-off point between our youth and the steady descent into old age and brown trousers.
Sod that. I’m turning 33 soon and while my trousers are no longer short, they are very much (takes a look) a dark shade of blue. Thankyouverymuch!
By society’s standards I am a failure. I am 32 but last year I moved back into my family home. I am not married, nor do I have any kids. My ‘job’, if you can call it that, is teaching people how to play the guitar and a bunch of freelance stuff on the internet. Hardly a top guaranteed salary.
I don’t have a ‘career’. People still look down on me when I tell them what I do.
‘But you’re old now, you should be settled down’
Thanks, I love you too.
You know what? It’s so easy to hit a certain age and feel like you have let yourself down. Looking back at your wasted opportunities and wondering where the hell it all went wrong. But that’s the coward’s way.
This is how I look at things.
I consistently get told that I look in my mid-twenties. In fact, I have barely aged since then, at least not physically. I have a young mentality. I feel young and I act young. While most people my age are getting themselves bogged down with the stresses of modern life, I am still behaving like I am immortal, that I still have the keys to my future.
There are people out there who are barely in their twenties but look like a Keith Richards experiment gone wrong. Age just a number. Our bodies decay at the rate set by our DNA and genetics, not by how many candles we get to blow out every 12 months. We can extend this by healthy eating and exercise. We can slow the ageing of our brain by having a positive outlook on life and by learning new skills and experiencing different ideas.
We have the ability to drastically slow down our clock, but the sad fact is that many of us choose not to.
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock – that is the sound of your life wasting away.
It is NEVER too late
This fear we carry around with us never goes away. It is completely relative and it doesn’t matter how old you are or how successful you are – it will always be there.
Last year I had serious misgivings about whether I should finally get a degree. I enrolled during the summer but the thought of spending the next 3 years doing something I should have done 13 years earlier gnawed away at me for months.
‘I will be 35 when this thing finishes… who gets a degree at the age of 35?’
Do you know what enabled me to push away these negative thoughts? The fear that I would reach 35 and think ‘Aww man, I wish I had started that degree’.
But the crazy thing is. I would probably feel exactly the same as I do now. Rewind a few years and I remember thinking as a 29 year old that I couldn’t imagine being 33. I don’t know why, it just seemed weird to me. But it’s all relative. I can’t imagine being 35 but I will be and whether I had started this degree or not, that age will come around.
We need to stop moping about. We can’t keep blaming time for our failures. You are exactly the age you are, so forget about it, it’s meaningless. Instead focus on what you can do TODAY to start living the life you really want.
- Are you worried that you can’t date someone 10 years older or younger than you? Just get off your ass and ask them out. If you don’t someone else will.
- Do you feel too old to get back into education? I’m willing to bet you will see people in the lecture hall or classroom that are older than you.
- Do you actually feel too young to become a leader or an authority figure at work? If you’re good at what you do then people will respect you. Period.
- Can you travel around the world in middle age? Do you have too many responsibilities? Emigrate, work remotely, take the kids with you if need be. If you can’t do this then go on frequent smaller trips – think outside the box. Make it happen.
- Are you too old to have a successful acting or music career? Check out the case studies below.
The 58 year old Irish actor, perhaps best known for his role alongside Colin Farrell in the awesome ‘In Bruges’ was a late starter in Hollywood. Despite several years acting on stage for the Royal Shakespeare Company and holding down a regular job as a maths teacher, he finally decided at the age of 34 that he wanted to become a movie star.
So that’s exactly what he did.
At an age when most people would have given up on their dream and reluctantly settled for their place in life, Brendan began attending auditions and landed small roles in various TV movies but it wasn’t until Mel Gibson cast him in Braveheart that he would have his major breakthrough.
Now he is sitting pretty as a world renowned actor with 3 Golden Globe nominations to his credit.
Let me say that again. At the age of 34 he stopped being a maths teacher and decided to become a movie star.
Perhaps the world’s most famous Hobo impersonator, Seasick Steve is a 62 year old Blues musician who shot to prominence with his 2008 album ‘I Started Out with Nothin and I Still Got Most of It Left’, reaching number 9 in the UK album charts.
Aside from the amazing fact he didn’t achieve success until the age of 57 – he toiled as a musician since the 60’s. Befriending everyone from Janis Joplin to Joni Mitchell – he was well known as a session player and a studio engineer.
He has lived all over the US ranging from Oakland, San Fransisco, Seattle and would even spend time busking in Paris before moving to Norway where he released his first solo album in 2006. Along with wife, Elizabeth, he has lived in 59 different houses in his lifetime.
‘Hobos are people who move around looking for work, tramps are people who move around but don’t look for work, and bums are people who don’t move and don’t work. I’ve been all three’.
The man basically spent 40 years watching other musicians live the dream before he finally got his shot at the big time, and he took it!
You might think that with an estimated fortune of £200 million and being the head honcho of American Idol and X Factor that Simon Cowell was always a success within the music industry but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In 1989, at the age of 30, he had to file for bankruptcy and move back in with his parents due to the collapse of his record label.
‘I’ve had many failures. The biggest were at times when I believed my own hype. I’d had smaller failures, signing bands that didn’t work. But, my record company going bust, that was the first big one.
‘I was a typical Eighties cliché. I had the cars, the house, the image and everything was beyond my means. I spent too much time at parties and then everything imploded.’
Being an up and coming big shot in the music industry and having everything suddenly taken away would destroy most people but Cowell simply regrouped, worked hard and bided his time until he was able to re-launch a new label to achieve success in the mid 90’s.
The general public didn’t know who he was until his after his 40th birthday. He had to wait that long to become the television star he is today.
Use these three as inspiration. They didn’t allow the passing of time to diminish their dream of becoming the person they wanted to be. They stuck at it, believing and not letting their age or their failures hold them back from their true path in life.
Time will continue to pass regardless of the path you choose for yourself, so don’t become that person that looks back on their life with regret and a million excuses. There are far too many of those around and their club doesn’t need another member.
You already know who you are and what you want. There is no better time than now. Go for it!
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock…