In Good Company
Jesus laid the foundations to change the world by the time he was 33. He only started in his "calling" or "career" as a teacher when he was 30. (Nice to know I'm not the only late bloomer.) He died for the sins of the world.
Bon Scott, the original singer and founder of ACDC, died at age 33.
Rocky Balboa didn't do much until he fought Apollo Creed at age 33.
Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic at age 33.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote his essay, "Nature," encouraging readers to see the miraculous in the common at 33.
So, I'm in good company I guess, although maybe a little behind the 8-ball in the whole achieve-something-great scheme of things.
The thing is, I don't feel 33.
One of these guys is 53 and the other is 33. Which is which?
The bottom guy was 33 (and 32) in those pictures.
And that's why I think age is nothing more than a number. It is just a place holder and a label used to categorize people for things that are only minimally age related.
Seeing as I have been thinking a lot about my age lately I ran a little test. I asked people who I've known for various lengths of time, and some strangers, how old they thought I was. I excluded immediate family members who know how old I am. The answers ranged from 25 to 31. The mean was 27 while the mode was 28. So, we'll just say that the average person thinks I'm 27 to 28 years old based on my appearance and personality. There are some surprising bits of information to be gleaned from this very unscientific survey. First, no one guessed older than my age. Second, no one guessed my age. Third, the entire data set was 2 to 8 years younger than my actual age. The majority thought I was in my 20's. This reinforces my belief that age is just a number. It is not who you are. I know I am not my age.
As best I can figure, age is only really important when you're trying to get a handle on someone's health/life expectancy or the stage of life they are in. The problem is that it is not an accurate reflection of who I am in either of those areas. I don't have the life experience of your average 33 year old. I am not in the stage of life an average 33 year old is in. I am also extremely fit and healthy compared to almost everyone else my own age. So where does that leave me? Sometimes I feel like I am caught in limbo. (click here to understand why I am the way I am) When people know how old I am they expect me to act and be a certain way and that is not who I am. When I hang around with people "my age" I feel so out of place. They are in a different stage of life than I am and I just can't relate. I don't have kids. I haven't been married for 10 years. I don't have in-laws. I don't have aches and pains. I'm not balding. I'm just starting out in my career. I have different interests. In my head I am 26. That's the stage of life and level of experience I have. My body doesn't really know its 33 either, but one day it may figure it out, and I think that's what created the issue I'm dealing with. One day my body may act it's age, and not the 7 to 10 years younger it thinks it is.
Two years ago I moved back to the city. I had been working up in Northern Canada for several years, starting out in my career and paying my dues, so to speak. When I moved back I knew I needed to be involved in some sort of Christian circles and so I attended a college and career group and a 30+ group. Wow. I figured out quite quickly that I am not 30+. They were all so old and boring. (I'm not saying being boring is a pre-requisite to being 30+.) I did not fit at all. So I went to C&C. I found people who were in University, finishing degrees, starting out in their careers, figuring out life, learning about God, and learning about relationships. And that was exactly the stage of life I was in. I had been out of school for a couple years by then but I knew what it was like and I was just starting out in my career like many other C&Cers were. We liked the same movies and music. We played video games and ultimate frisbee. We joked and shared and prayed and had fun. It felt right. It's where I fit. Honestly, I don't feel out of place there even though I am about 8 years older than the average C&Cer. I don't think the average C&Cer thinks I'm out of place there either.
Several months ago I went to a friend's birthday party. He turned 23. His wife is 22. Their friends were 22 and 23. And then there was me. No one knew how old I was and it didn't matter. I didn't feel out of place and they didn't think I was out of place either. How we related and how we had fun had nothing to do with our ages. It was a good time.
Having said all that, age does play a role in categorizing some fairly important statistics. Life expectancy, illnesses, overall health, etc... are tracked and categorized by age. As young as I think and feel, I can't ignore the fact that I am statistically closer to death than most of the people I hang out with. However, I said statistically. In reality I am extremely healthy, in very good physical condition, and do not have a family history of disease (I'm not counting type II diabetes). Although statistics may say that the average 33 year old male will live another 48 years, I am above average. And I am above average because I am very intentional about taking care of my physical self. I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. Through diet and exercise I plan to help my physical body live as long as possible in the best health possible. I don't have a wife or kids yet, but I made a decision a while ago to be the best I could be for their sakes.
I relate to others and am related to by others as though I was an average 26 year old. I can't change that, and I don't see the need to change it. I am who I am and I like me. Unfortunately, I think my actual age causes problems when people have trouble reconciling who I am with the number associated with me. It hurts because I am who I am, not an age, but decisions are made based on my age and not who I am.
I don't think age is as important as it is built up to be. Life experience, life expectancy and health are. I can't speak for all the 33 year-olds out there, but for myself, I am 26 in all the ways that are important.