Age is Just a Mentality

A few months back I was doing an H-Club tour for an alumna. I did my usual spiel about clubs, hocka-possums and eccentric fro-yo flavors to fill up the uncomfortably noticeable silence that settles in the trek from Penson to the main building. To my dismay, those three topics only got me five steps into the journey, and there I was: stuck walking with a stranger. In silence.

Alright…I say that as if it never happens to me. When, in reality, it’s the usual.

But then the alumna said something that completely freaked me out.

“You know,” she said to some effect, pensively looking out on graduation terrace, “I still feel the same as I did at age 18. No matter my age or experience, I seem to have kept the same mindset as I did back in high school.”

I reacted as I usually do when witnessing extroverted epiphanies, nodding my head understandingly as if I had come to the same conclusion after 18 years in this world. Meanwhile, I flash back to my first-grade self who looked so admiringly at the cool and mature High School seniors. Then we arrive at the doors, and I catch my reflection in the glass, distorted and white blazered-up. My only thought: I am nothing like the person my first-grade self thought I would be.

I don’t feel old—my age seems to be inversely related to my self-assurance. I honestly felt older as a ten-year-old than I do now, eight years later.

I don’t feel cool—just normal. (Even a bit on the weird side).

I don’t feel like I have anything figured out. At all.

I don’t feel 18; I feel ageless—but not the kind about which middle-aged women enthuse. And it terrifies me that I may think the same way about myself and my life ten, twenty, thirty years later.

Though, to be fair, it seems like we are never where we want to be. As a first grader, I looked up to the mature sixth graders and wondered if I would be as suave as them when I got to be 12 (spoiler alert: the only suave I ended up having was shampoo). In Middle School, I wanted to be…well…not in Middle School. And not a day goes by in Upper School when I don’t hear at least one person talking about college.

Perhaps that’s just human: we are geared for optimism. That is, after all, what keeps us all up at night studying for tests and writing papers. We all dream of that one day when we will be That Woman Sipping A Cappuccino While Working On Ten Different Things While Petting Her Teacup Poodle. At least, that’s what I see when I think “sophisticated.”

But if Drake is correct in saying that we only live once, looking forward is the last thing I want to spend my time doing. I want to be able to believe that now is the best time of my life, that now is not a path to tomorrow, but a form of it.

And maybe then, when I believe it, I will be okay with living in the mind of an 18-year-old for the next decade.