I’m going to stop using my age as an excuse not to be awesome.
I bought this bracelet the other day while tipsy shopping. Tipsy shopping is much more fun than sober shopping, which is just shopping. You never know what you’ll end up with when you’ve had a few adult sodas and the inhibitions expire. I ended up with a bracelet that is made of the world’s itchiest material and is almost entirely unwearable. It cost $35, and I paid $35 — which is notable because I purchased it from a purveyor who was expecting to haggle. Now I have a $35 wrist irritation device. That’s not the point of this post though. The point of this post is to ask: When is a man “too old” to buy a bracelet? What is the line? Where is your line and should you have one? How do we tackle these invisible lines we draw for ourselves as we attempt to age gracefully? I am not talking about bracelets anymore.
I wrote this down months ago: “I’m going to stop using my age as an excuse not to be awesome.” I didn’t know why then, but I think I do now. I like to make fun of my age and openly discuss the arrival of my irrelevance. This is a self-preservation tactic, and I want to stop. There are no rules except for the ones we make for ourselves — which are not real rules. Two people who are the exact same age could believe “I am too young” and “I am too old,” respectively. That’s hilarity and insanity. Asking yourself, “Am I too old for this?” should only be answered by your self.
I talked to a young woman yesterday who moved here from Brazil a few years ago. She moved by herself, taught herself English, enrolled in a community college, transferred to a university, and is graduating this May. All she has ever wanted to do is work for a professional sports team, but she is afraid she doesn’t have enough experience. This girl was so sharp that she could probably start her own professional sports franchise. Alas, someone (perhaps herself) told her that she needs more experience before she can begin. In reality (or in my opinion), she needs to get her foot in the door by offering to get paid in Fritos and force them to notice her. There is no better experience than doing the actual work and working alongside those you admire. If you’re lucky enough to know what you want, then you better get to doing it. Age is no excuse for not doing what you really want to do.
It’s not fun to look old. And, it’s worse to think you look young while looking old. That is my fear. And that fear is best described by a very old Chris Rock line, “You don’t want to be the old guy in the club…Every club you go into, there’s always some old guy. He ain’t really old, just a little too old to be in the club.” I have quietly been telling myself that I am too old for stuff as soon as I turned 30, and I’m doing it more as I hit 40. Again, it’s simply self-preservation. My lizard brain uses fear to try and protect me from becoming irrelevant. In our industry, it’s uncomfortable and sad to watch a creative professional whose work looks, sounds, or simply begins to feel dated. The only thing worse than their irrelevant work is their obliviousness to it. So, I get what my lizard brain is up to and I appreciate him looking out for me. But, he needs to bugger off. Old people who act old are not fun. Fun old people are fun. Weird old people are fun. Let’s be weird old people.
Ironically, if you play it safe, that is how you become irrelevant. You don’t want to be the old guy at the club. But, you do want to be the old guy (or gal) that is young at heart. That is what you and I must do to remain relevant. If you think younger, you act younger and maybe even feel younger? Maybe. I’m sure there’s a study on that somewhere. I’ll just assume it’s right for the purposes of closing this blog out. One thing is true: the creative industry (and likely most industries) isn’t restricted to young people, but to have long-term success, you might need to trick yourself into believing you are still young. It’s certainly more fun than tricking yourself into believing you’re too old. Let’s stay young, have fun and lie to ourselves for as long as we can remember who we are.