Sunday, August 22, 2010

The first sign of getting old is using the phrase when I was young

I've always smiled at the emails that go around asking what you remember even though I'm having more in common with my Dad than I used to. I'm also having a heck of a time looking at people and guessing their age. When I got IDed at 29 I thought it was nuts but I now understand now hard it is to visually tell ages. I generally divide into kids, young adults, "my age" which seems to span a 30 year range, parent's age and wow you've lived a long time old. I don't think about it a lot because I consider stage of life to be more important than age.

So I did found discussion in Slate about Twentysomethings to be fun to read. This is at least the third time (each separated by a decade or so) I've read about how twentysomethings are kind of lame for being different than the people now in their 30s like being 30 is magically gives you something other than the bragging rights of getting there. I read these discussions to learn if anything new and came upon a couple of interesting ideas (mostly from comments).

One is the introduction of a developmental stage between adolescence and adulthood. I suppose that would be a good thing. As our society has more time to age it makes sense to recognize stages of growth but consider this. Many people have problems understanding how juvenile crime works - limiting terms and sealing records due to the youth being unable to fully understand the consequences of their actions (IANAL). I'm not sure creating another "division" serves any value. The other is a comment about kids these days have too many choices and no clear path to adulthood. I'm not sure how you can have too many choices unless one isn't given the tools to properly make decisions and isn't that what parenting is about? Waa - society isn't as authoritarian as you want.

I get the part about wanting to both criticize and be part of the current twentysomething cohort. Who wants to grow old - especially in our current society. Not only are we judged by how old we look but it's easier to escape youthful mistakes than in the "olden days". Mobility and secular society have made shunning a less effective social tool. Work seems easier. At tech school, I learned how to make an analytical GC column and computer courses revolved around learning to program. Now it's more computer courses  focusing on learning how to use specific programs - easier maybe? Younger folks have more time to get finances somewhere decent - let's ignore the huge burden of student loans and how profitability is worshiped over job creation even in the public sector.

Supported squat, a sign of aging.
I'm not seeing the difference between kids now days and when I was a YA. We are lucky enough to live when being 20 something is the time to try jobs, maybe get ahead, try relationships and hopefully find yourself in terms of ethics and self actualization. I admire that the people I know take their time more, both at work and in their personal lives, not rushing into tasks or relationships (personal or work). I have lived long enough now to know that people can change and learn from mistakes and it's only by luck that we avoid serious consequences of the thoughtless stuff we all do.

And defining adulthood? Maybe it should just be when a person figures out they are not the center of everyone else's life and  takes the consequence for their actions. No blaming things on someone/thing or expecting a supernatural being to make thing better.