Self imposed aging
I read an article this morning with a title along the lines of ‘Millennials have the key to future business development, as only they have an idea how to innovate for future customers.’ It was not much catchier than this, but I am a bit unwilling to bother finding the link. These are the same millennials who graduated at the same time as me, who were denounced as incapable of knowing when to agree to make other people a cup of tea or do the photocopying rather than impressing everyone with their vast knowledge of nothing.
Personally, since at a whopping ten years older than them I was discounted entirely as a colleague, and was asked by Rothschild’s why I would even want to work with such people, I have limited experience of them, but I do not think they have exclusive knowledge that anyone else fails to grasp.
One of the things the article touched on was our unwillingness to think like children as we get older. We lose our curiosity about the world, and prefer to develop intensive knowledge streams. Well duh, you can’t follow every path, otherwise everyone would look a whole lot more like me, and a lot less like someone with a mortgage and children. At some point you have to use the principle of opportunity cost to decide what you want out of life.
Having said this, there is no reason why you cannot devote some of your time to being aware of what you are turning down. I, for example, cannot be bothered getting a smartphone in order to know all about apps, instagram or snapchat. I detest mobile phones, and had to be forced twice by an employer to accept one. I do not see why I should be forced to be on the end of a connective string all the time, and I do think that there is value in maintaining your hand/eye coordination in the form of physically making 3 dimensional objects. In the same way that a great chef creates something with colour, texture, flavour, overall design, an artist balances much the same principles with whatever medium they use. I happen to be very good at 3d modelling, so I dabbled a bit with that online in the course of messing about, and as it turns out this is what I should probably be concentrating on if I want to make any money.
So, instead of playing computer games, all someone older than a Millennial has to do to maintain their current managerial and innovative capacity is learn a few computing science skills, app development, programming, game design etc. It is not a hard overall concept to get your teeth into, everything works pretty much like your average, common or garden tree. Millennials are not the only people to have seen a tree. Whilst I do not see the value in endless photo sharing apps, so I am unlikely to come up with the next billion dollar format, I can just about manage to figure out how to take my ideas to a new generation, thanks all the same.
I had a friend years ago who despite being younger than me, said that I did not act the way a 32 year old (at the time) woman should act. This is understandable, since my life has consisted of creative focus on seemingly random dudes, percolated with appalling long term relationships with people I shouldn’t have bothered either trusting or wasting time with. On the other hand, who made the rules on how a 32 year old woman should act? Do they hand out slippers and a cardigan on your 30th? My family tend to peak very late in life, so I have always had my peak to look forward to, maybe this is making the difference?
At this point in my life, I notice that even one bad meal makes a difference to how I look, so I am aware that I am getting older, but apart from the now screaming urgency in terms of having a child, I do not feel in the slightest bit older in terms of my curiosity. Am I really that unusual?
It certainly seems so, since most of my male friends seem to have settled into a disgruntled state of dissatisfaction with their lot and a kind of grumpy complacency that means they actually need to be shaken into thinking about changing anything. It is most dispiriting.
Maybe my obsessive focus on work has helped me avoid this. The lengthy concentration on a task, to the point where you are thinking you might get finished in the next five years or so, rather than constantly looking back and thinking things were better when you were 28. They weren’t better at all. Men aren’t really worth bothering with before 35 or so, and you have to actually save money to get anything done when you are that age because there is always someone waiting to charge you for learning the things you later find out are available free. You have more patience when you are older too, so the driven quality that seems to be admirable calms down to a more steadfast and skillful plod. That is a good thing, not something that should be undervalued or maligned.
Perhaps I am lucky that my life has gone in a different direction to the one I actually worked for. Perhaps a career and a family would have made me miserable, old and defensive. Perhaps the people that seem so happy are hiding behind the thought that they did what was expected of them, and now don’t have to think at all. This seems to me to be like a slow death. Maybe being lonely and trapped at home is actually freedom, from conventional worry, loss of self and inflexible aging.
I can say for certain that deciding to effectively marry myself to a person that I do not know was the best decision I ever made in terms of endless self-doubt, so perhaps it is a case of making a decision outwith reality to prevent the crippling stiffness of age. I can say with equal certainty that willingness to learn and change is a major factor in the aging process.
If you do not tweak the product, the product becomes obsolete, which is as relevant to yourself as it is to any product.