Saturday, 11 June 2011

Getting older: life through a pair of bifocals.

Don’t laugh, but one thing I’ve struggled with this year is turning 30 and I’ve been thinking about getting older in general.

If you’re older than me, bear with me, because I think this sort of feeling could apply to any age; we all have to deal with this and each new year presents different challenges and opportunities.

It has been four months since my birthday, and much of that has been a period of adjustment. I felt as though I’d only just gotten used to being 20-something, only really started enjoying it towards the end of the decade, and then someone stole it away from me and hit me with the big 3-0. I felt like I was no longer a ‘young man’, merely ‘a man’ – an adult. Was I now expected to be responsible? To behave in a grown-up way?

I wasn’t sure I was ready for that.

In my world, when you struggle with something, you write a song about it. And that I did, putting into words some of my feelings for the first time and trying to convince myself of some of the positives. Positives such as having more experience, more wisdom, and a better understanding of myself. But it didn’t really cut the mustard; I still felt pretty uneasy about the new decade.

But then one day it hit me: if I felt that I was an ‘adult’, what did that mean? I guess as a young man, part of me believed I hadn’t earned the right to be taken seriously, that my thoughts and opinions weren’t worth listening to – or at least, I thought that other people might have seen it that way.

As I considered the negative of ‘being an adult’, I suddenly saw it from the other side: I’m an adult. I am grown-up. I have a place in the world; my words/actions/beliefs are valid and I have as much right as anyone else to have them, and express them if I choose to. In some way, I’ve paid my dues, and I feel I’ve lived long enough to have the right to be heard. And, I believe I have some things worth hearing.

It’s a shame it took me a whole decade of a lack of self-confidence to realise it. I don’t believe one should have to be 30, before they have these rights.

And that’s it really. If you feel unhappy about getting older, try looking at it from a different angle. It could be that some problem you’ve had in your younger years no longer applies – and that’s something to celebrate.

Maybe a negative feeling is actually a positive one; we just need the right lens.

1 comment:

  1. This poem, by the splendidly named Joseph Blanco White, sums up the idea of 'positive within negative' as he imagines the newly created Adam experiencing the coming of night for the very first time. I love this sonnet.

    To Night

    Joseph Blanco White (1775–1841)

    MYSTERIOUS Night! when our first parent knew
    Thee from report divine, and heard thy name,
    Did he not tremble for this lovely frame,
    This glorious canopy of light and blue?
    Yet ’neath a curtain of translucent dew,
    Bathed in the rays of the great setting flame,
    Hesperus with the host of heaven came,
    And lo! Creation widened in man’s view.

    Who could have thought such darkness lay concealed
    Within thy beams, O sun! or who could find,
    Whilst fly and leaf and insect stood revealed,
    That to such countless orbs thou mad’st us blind!
    Why do we then shun death with anxious strife?
    If Light can thus deceive, wherefore not Life?