I was so much older then

October 15, 2013

rose dew neighb dylan best

Have you noticed this?  Here’s my theory:

When we’re younger, we’re consumed with the serious business of family and career, sometimes starting these efforts very young, before we’ve had a chance to enjoy our youth. And serious business it is. Raising kids, moving up the career ladder, buying and making a home…all of it.

In a way, we’re old before our time.

I’ve always been a big believer that kids shouldn’t go to college directly from high school, that they should take a year or two off, gap years. How are we to know–at the tender age of 18 or younger, for God’s sake–what we want to do with our lives? We’ve barely lived. Life experiences are far more educational at that age than sitting in a lecture hall learning about Western Civilization.  Save that for a bit later. Go out and see the world first–live a bit! Then settle into the adult business of preparing for a career and family. Because once we’re on that path, it’s usually where we stay for decades and decades. Often, we’re old before we should be.

Once retired, though, we can let out a big sigh of release (and relief), moving on from the targeted focus of our adulthood and moving into–oh, I don’t know, dare I call it a second childhood? That time of life when we can explore the things that make us happy? Knit, write, paint, practice yoga, take on a second, more fulfilling career?

I don’t know about you, but at this stage of my life I feel much younger than I did before.

That’s how I see it, anyway.

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28 comments on “I was so much older then
  1. Bouncin Barb says:

    This is so true Carol. I lived a crazy life from 17-22 before I settled down and got married. Now at this stage in my life, it’s about not getting stressed, enjoying every day and being happy. I’ve often wondered why so many adults who earned college degrees are working in fields completely unrelated to their field of study. Perhaps they should have taken that year off like you mentioned. Just a thought!

    • admin says:

      In retrospect, I would’ve done an MFA in writing. It never even occurred to me back then, I was so focused on a “career”…

  2. Janie Emaus says:

    I agree. Although, I lived a pretty crazy, free life until my thirties.

    • admin says:

      Lucky you! I got married at 21 (divorced at 30)–what were my parents thinking when they agreed to it? (Probably that I would’ve done it anyway!)

  3. DarleneMAM says:

    I keep looking over my shoulder to see if I’m going to get “caught.” I’m having a wonderful time in midlife.

  4. Helen Knight says:

    I’ve always thought colleges should give high school students a real picture of what the job looks like–and what it pays. I wanted to be a magazine editor for Redbook, but ended up staying in Tampa where Florida Trend was the only magazine and – guess what – they had plenty of editors and reporters. Applying for a job as a newspaper reporter shocked me when I realized how little reporters were paid. I could – and did – make more money as a secretary. (They had secretaries then.) Many kids can’t afford to take a “gap year” and travel and experience the world, but working gives you a great perspective on how much it cost to live, how much people are paid, and good information for picking a college major.

    • admin says:

      Helen! You commented! And you’re so gorgeous you don’t need the makeup. But you still get a entry. Well, a gap year to me doesn’t mean sitting on someone’s cushy bank account–more like working non traditionally— can be working your way across country. Or working in a ski resort for a season. Or doing a service project in another country for a few months. To me, it’s anything that’s not career oriented.

  5. Barbara says:

    That line is perfect for this stage of life. My parents, in their early 80’s, live in a Dell Webb retirement center outside Phoenix, and I get such a kick out of some of their neighbors – and well, really, my parents too. They live on a golf course so my Dad golfs almost every day – says it’s like going to the office (he’s been there for 20+ years) and last Christmas when we were visiting, one of their neighbors rode his bike down all decorated in battery controlled Christmas lights and a whole manger scene set up in his front basket. Silly? Yes. Wonderful? Absolutely.

  6. I hear you. I was wound so tight in my 30s it’s a miracle I didn’t explode. Everything had to be perfect. My career, my children, my home, my marriage, my garden, and on and on and on. It wasn’t until I had my third child at nearly 40 that I realized my quest for perfection was an illusion that was destroying me. These days I leave laundry in baskets for days (OK, weeks sometimes), but we LIVE life now.

    50 has certainly been a new beginning for me!

  7. beth says:

    Yes, empty nester here enjoying second chance at doing things I want to do, not activities for the kids. It is great.

  8. My son took a year after he’d finished his high school work, and before he entered college. His father and I saw tremendous growth in him over the course of that year.
    I took time after college, and before I got my first teaching job to go live in Switzerland and attend the university of Lausanne. During that time I traveled extensively, and that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
    But since I’m not yet retired, and we are self employed, it’s hard to imagine that we’ll be able to play much in our retirement. I hope so!!! That would be so wonderful!

    • admin says:

      Thanks for that validation. I do believe a gap year can be a growth year. Here’s to your success in retirement and the ability to play more!

  9. Julie Phelps says:

    When I am able to ignore my arthritis-related issues I often run those Dylan lyrics through my head. I definitely DO feel younger now. And happier. And contented with me as I am. Pleased with my evolution as a human.

  10. Sheryl says:

    It was only when I hit my late forties that I knew what my real passion was. I went back for my MFA in writing and graduated when I was 50. It’s never too late!

  11. I totally agree. I’m in that 2nd phase and I LOVE it.

  12. PatU says:

    Carol…we’ve “known” each other for some time now and I have to say that i really enjoy your blog, you make me think and you make me laugh, not necessarily at the same time.

  13. Agree! (Except for the aches, pains, lack of stamina, failing hearing/eyesight…)

  14. Adrian R says:

    My daughter is graduating college and looking at grad schools. My son is a high school senior and looking at colleges. I don’t know where the years went. I have so many memories of being their ages.
    I went to memorial Saturday night for a high school friend who died in bed the night before his 50th birthday. It makes you realize how precious life is.

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