I often wish I was younger. Not significantly younger, because I don’t think that’s reasonable, but maybe just five or six years younger. The reason for this goes beyond that ever-present yearning baked into all our psyches to be sharper, slimmer, quicker, fresher, and more idealistic. I am more or less at peace with this sentiment and have never really minded my age.
No, it’s more so that I feel like I just started to figure things out.
I don’t think I’ve ever lived a life more aligned with my personal aspirations than the one I have now. The job is just right. The partner I’ve picked to spend the rest of my life with gets me. And my dreams? Well, I’ve created the perfect, realistic system that ensures I am constantly working toward them in a way that is both fulfilling and manageable. But as I look around, I see people who have figured all of this out in their late-20s, and subsequently reaped the benefits of more time to charge forth with self-assured conviction on the right path. I am doing the same, but I’m in my mid-30s so I’m a little behind the no-longer-aspiring politicians my age.
How can I make myself feel better about this? One reassurance could come in the form of telling myself that many of the people who look like they’ve been on the right path are, in actuality, lost. I’m sure that’s true, but to accept it as a mass categorization for all such people as a means of self-comfort feels like a copout. No, there are certainly Senators and Members of Congress in their mid-thirties that were angling toward their current status five or six years ago. It’s a fact that those elected officials are way ahead of me, a 34-year-old who just started to line up a plan to one day run for office.
I have let this realization fester in the back of my head for months. And it’s left me with sincere regret of my age for the first time in my life. Goals, dreams, and achievements are my lifeblood. At a certain age, you can’t quite say that anything is possible anymore (though I believe most things still are) so it’s good to be on some kind of path, a handful of ladders whose rungs you’d like to collect beneath your feet as you climb through the rest of your life. My problem is that it took me a little bit longer than the average to identify those ladders, and now I’m realizing I have a finite period left to make my way up.
But a few days ago, a new thought popped in my head: So be it. The conventional response to these sentiments of “age regret” is that we are all on our own paths and that the race is between us and ourselves. While I do buy into the validity of this argument, I can also accept that as far as statistics are concerned, I’m just a couple of years older than the average goal-oriented adult is when they finally create a plan to achieve their dreams. But so be it because that does not change a single thing about my reality or my quest. I still need to work diligently and consistently towards what I want every day. And if I’m a bit unluckier than those who figured out what they wanted a few years ago, then I’m still a lot luckier than those who are much older than me, or who died even, without ever figuring it out.
Besides, when I’m 40, I’ll just be wishing I’m 34 anyway. And the good news is that I’m 34 right now.