Stop Using Your Age as an Excuse!

seasick steve
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.

Brendan Gleeson

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.

Seasick Steve

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!

Simon Cowell

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.

Final thoughts

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…

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About Jamie

Jamie is a guitar teacher and writer who hates the typical 9-5 existence. After quitting his job to enter the world of guitar tuition, he created this blog to document his thoughts and struggles as he takes on societies norms armed with nothing more than his cheeky wit and undeniable charm - Give his Facebook page a like, add him on Twitter or follow his Google+ page and he will repay you with even more awesome words!

Comments

  1. I went back to college at age 30. I got a master’s degree when I was 38. I wrote my first book at 48. If anything I’m motivated to do more as I get older.
    dan erickson recently posted..staying on top of your gameMy Profile

    • That is exactly the kind of thing I am talking about! Awesome.

      Just curious, is your increase in motivation due to fear of missing out as you get older? Or is it that you’re simply better equipped at getting stuff done?

  2. Age is a terrible indicator of life. Whether you are 15 or 55 – you can start living whenever you like.

    I’m 20 years old and my accountability partner is in his forties. Sometimes he’ll say to me ” I wish I would have started this stuff at your age.” To which I always reply with: “But you are doing it man. It doesn’t matter what you did in the past. Right now you are taking life into your own hands. You are doing something that 99% of the population would never do. That’s all that matters.”

    You are writing some really great stuff over here man. I’m looking forward to reading more from you.
    Kevin Cole recently posted..Work With Me & Build A Badass Lifestyle BizMy Profile

    • Age is indeed a funny thing. One of my oldest friends is 15 months younger than me and sometimes I would do something before him and feel smug, but then remember he has a 15 month buffer zone to catch up and if he did it, then he actually got there first.. as in he did it at a younger age than me, even though technically I was first. Head scratcher, and most definitely an unhealthy way to think.

      But you’re right. It doesn’t matter who is first as the important thing is the present, not the past.

      Thanks for your comment, it means a lot!

  3. It’s funny how it works. We approach a certain age and we feel crappy because we haven’t done anything yet, but at the same time when you’re young you don’t want to put yourself out there because you’re afraid no one will take you seriously. So you end up waiting until you’re older… Now you think you’re too old!
    Vincent recently posted..How to Assure You’re More Confident by Next YearMy Profile

    • And what is even funnier than that is you will no doubt have another great idea that you put off because of the exact same reasons. It’s like a never ending, age-related procrastination of doom.

  4. I don’t think making millions make you a more valuable person than anyone else. In fact, I believe people that are making millions, and the glorification of that is part of the reason why it’s so damn hard for people to set truly unique goals that fit them perfectly.

    But I definitely agree with you on the need to stop moping about and following your dreams. Really uplifting to read about you and Brendan. Except that last line… I have no clear idea of what I want yet. It’s vague, but at least I’m working towards it.

    Oh and I’m 23, so we’re basically the same age. At least I heard that 30 is the new 20!

    People don’t really give me shit about figuring stuff out, except myself. I had a feeling “that it’s too late” ever since I bombed high school and had no idea what I wanted to study and chose Japanese on a whim.

    Maybe it’s my arrogance that makes me feel as if I’m wasting some sort of imaginary potential that I have. Maybe my parents made me feel too special when I was growing up. (An article I read proposed the latter as the reason for why my generation is full of miserable people. )

    Regardless, I’m going to be trying out a few different career paths and just see what clicks. If I can become self-employed along the way, and I enjoy that, then all is well.
    Ragnar recently posted..When You Want To Quit.. 3 Questions To Get Back On TrackMy Profile

    • I think we all have potential, it’s not imaginary. I don’t think I was made to feel special whilst growing up but I’ve always held a belief that I am destined for something good in life – regardless if it happens or not. What that ‘good’ thing is, who knows.

      You are figuring this stuff out now and sooner or later things will happen for you, as they will everyone who adopts the mindset of striving to better themselves. From what I’ve seen so far, you’ll do well at this crazy game called life. Especially if you keep up the Japanese! ありがとう

  5. Nice post, man! After playing guitar for 20+ years, I went and took some lessons from a local classical master, and another and then a third. I learned a shitload at nearly 40 years old about an instrument I played for more than half my life. My excuses and pride got shoved aside and progress happened. Money and time well spent. Have a hoopla Tuesday!
    cj recently posted..A “Joy”ous AwardMy Profile

    • CJ! With over 20 years of finger fiddling fun you must be some kind of player!

      I teach a few people that would make you seem like a spring chicken. One thing I have always found is that it doesn’t matter if the student is 7 or 64 – the ones who have the enthusiasm and desire to learn are the ones who progress the quickest. Age really is no barrier when it comes to music!

  6. Hi Jamie,

    This was an inspirational post, indeed! As someone who turned 34 this year, I at times hear a negative voice in my mind talking about how I’m too old for this of that. Your post has helped to understand that we’re never too old!

    We really can slow down time ourselves by living more and more in the present moment. I loved the three inspirational stories you shared. They are perfect examples of never giving up, whatever our age!

    Thank you.
    Hiten recently posted..How to Get Your Week Off to a Super StartMy Profile

    • Hey Hiten, that negative voice is always there, picking away at our insecurities but over time I think we learn to ignore it. So you’re the same age as Brendan when he decided to be an actor – so if there is a major 180 you want to do with your life, now is the time! :-)

      Thanks for your comment!

  7. Hi Jamie! I couldn’t agree with you more. First, congrats on your degree program. I had NO idea what I wanted to do when I was 18 except drink beer and hang with my friends, so I put myself into debt for the next 20 years for a B.A. in psychology I don’t really use. When I figured out what I wanted to do, I went back to graduate school for a M.Ed. and now run my own tutoring business at the ripe old age of 42. This year we also published our first book. I was a sad, tired, and overweight 30 year old. Now, I’m happy and (much more) fit. I love getting up every day, and I plan on living to 100!
    Tammy R recently posted..Checking Accounts Made Fun and EasyMy Profile

    • Thanks Tammy! You say you didn’t use your Psychology degree but without it you wouldn’t have got your M.Ed, so everything in your past has helped shaped your future, even if you didn’t realise it at the time. It just goes to show it doesn’t matter about age, now is always the right time.

      Why live to 100? Live to 200!

  8. Great post! I love reading inspirational stories and who knew Simon Cowell of all people struggled like us mere mortals. LOL! You are 100% right though about never letting your age be an excuse to NOT try something new. I am not the most technically minded person around, in fact my husband (and anyone who knows me) would say I am technically challenged. I barely know how to use my cell phone! But I tried something new and have recently discovered I am am actually a fairly good writer. So Now that’s what I do. I use my writing skills as an article writer and can figure my way around a computer now in ways I could only watch in awe as others did the same thing I’m doing now only a few short years ago. I will be 37 this year, so that is just another bit of proof that anyone can do anything they want, if they just put their mind to it. Cliche, I know, but it’s true.
    Janet Benson recently posted..Discover your Specific Superpower that will turn you into a BadassMy Profile

    • Hi Janet, you touched on a point there that I think many people don’t grasp – that it’s never too late to embrace new technology and skills past a certain age. It’s great that you discovered a passion, especially one that you can use to help others too. Just don’t stop there and look forward to what other new passions and skills you can pick up over the next few years!

  9. Megan Artizania says:

    Brilliant post! For the last few years I have been struggling with the issues mentioned above and the internal chat in my brain has been telling me that I’ve had my chance and that life has passed me by. Of course that negative way of thinking is what drags a person back – not their age. I have to often remind myself to adjust my focus. I’m guilty of beating myself up about the fact that at age 40 I’m not where I thought I would be in life. But your positive words and the comments above have given me a lift, its never too late and never give up. Inspiring stuff, thank you.

    • 40 is nothing. You will continue to age regardless so you may as well start now, whatever it is that you want to do! Thanks Megan!

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