So I’m 50. Am I Really That Old?
I’ve still got it. Right? I quietly told myself as I was out having dinner with friends one night. Since it was a Friday night, it felt extra special since I was taking Saturday off. I could stay out as late as I wanted.
But secretly—I was ready to head home by 9 p.m. and curl up with Netflix.
When did I get so old?
This past summer I celebrated my 50th birthday. In many ways, it was a time of gratitude and appreciation. But it was also cathartic. Like many of my other friends, I was unconsciously aging—slowly disconnecting from the reality of change and believing things hadn’t really changed so much over the last few years.
But things have changed. And so have I. Suddenly I realized that I was out of touch.
Who, me? The hip Uncle; the jet-set man-on-the-go? Naahh. No way.
So I started paying closer attention to my life as it flowed by me and quickly discovered a few things:
Music. I was having dinner with a buddy last month at a new hip restaurant. I really enjoyed the venue, but the music was so loud we could barely keep a conversation. I felt like our table was in the middle of dance floor—and I’m still known to shake it once a while, but not while I’m eating. We found ourselves yelling across the table at each other until we finally gave up and just smiled as we ate.
Clothing. As a former model in my college years, I sported the latest fashions. Naturally, I’d always prided myself on keeping up with the trends—that is, until I lost touch with them. Between not knowing and not caring as much, I have found myself cast into the land of those who still wear cargo shorts and patchouli. Perhaps millennials will give me the side-eye, but I’m still loved by my college peers. Besides, clothing is just another hand on the proverbial clock—what goes around comes around.
Traffic. People are either driving faster or I’m driving slower. Perhaps both. But, hey, I rebuilt a muscle car in high school—a 1969 Mustang Mach 1—and had my dose of four-wheeled power when I was a whippersnapper, so I understand the need for speed. Today, I’d rather drive my Hyundai Sonata on cruise control and listen to new-wave hits on XM Radio. I’ll let the speed racers do their thing while I sing along with Depeche Mode.
Apps. I stopped at a gas station this week to buy an atlas. With a puzzled look, the young gal behind the cash register told me, “Umm, well, we only have those maps over here…” gesturing to a small pile in the newspaper section. GPS is king. I also recently got flak from my buddy for taking too many screenshots on Snapchat—accusing me of acting like a Boomer printing out emails. But I’m sentimental and want to keep the pictures! To which he replied, “That’s not the point.”
Cheaters. I’m not talking about people who find ways to get around the system, but rather those fun little spectacles that make reading clearer again—well, at least for those of us who refuse to take our contacts out or wear our real glasses. Funny… they are now the first things I seek out at the drug store. Is this what my shopping has evolved to? Then so be it. Buying anything you really need for only $1 is a good investment in my book.
Grooming. I grew a beard in the ’90s to feel older. After 20 years of facial hair, I started shaving more often to feel younger. And hairstyles? My basic buzz cut was hip in the 90s and now seems more popular with football players and men wanting to make a statement. Fine with me, but apparently the spiked hair from the 80s is back. It’s been a few decades, so I guess I can see how that feels again. The last thing I want is to feel stale and stuck. Time to shell out a few bucks for product.
So how do we possibly keep up? We don’t. But at least we can have fun with wherever we are. After all, life is about going with the flow—and if we resist change, we just age faster. Getting old and stale would just deny us opportunities for more fun. And that’s reason enough for me.
Michael Thomas Sunnarborg helps people find better balance and happiness in their work, relationships, and life—especially during transitions. Find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com
Image: Me hiking in the Swiss Alps