How Can You Get to 50 and Not Grow Up?

Posted: March 6, 2012 in Life, Travel
Tags: , , , , ,

When I was about 18 I had a thing; a weird notion that there was a 15 minute window on Friday and Saturday nights when I became suave, witty and irresistibly charming (or thought I did).

This 15 minute window was my best chance of copping off at the local disco. This 15 minute window lay in a sort of the eye of an alcohol fuelled storm in between the seven or so pints that was the prelim to the disco and the subsequent double vodkas whose ‘sharpness’ I foolishly felt might sober me up a bit after the lager fest.  It was a wonderful little period between being an awkward, self-conscious human lad and a bumbling, incoherent drunken ape.

Waiting to feel grown up has been a bit like that. For years I wondered when I’d feel the same as colleagues at conferences and work related dinners etc. who could easily enter into an adult conversation with another adult who was a stranger. I always felt like a young lad standing on the fringes never really knowing what to say. The bottom line was I could rabbit on about the silly things that interested me but the corporate blather always sounded like ‘blah, blah, blah’.

‘Never mind, when you grow up you’ll be able to talk like that too and fit in,’ I would reassure myself even though by the time my 30s started to run behind me with an outstretched hand pleading ‘don’t leave’ it still hadn’t happened.

A couple of weeks ago Andy asked me. “How do you feel being 50?”

It was a question that had me pulling on the metaphorical hand-break and screeching to a stop. Fifty? Fifty? How the hell did that happen? We’d been in Porto for my birthday. It was part of the reason we were in Porto. But when we travel, the actual celebration/acknowledgement of events like birthdays tends to get lost in being wide-eyed and dazzled at exploring somewhere new, shiny and interesting.

So I didn’t really think much about reaching a half century. It’s a bit of a sell out really as at 20 I’d vowed to go out in a blaze of glory by the time I was 36 (don’t ask me why 36 was a cut-off point).

Anyway, I pondered it for a second… and dismissed it. A number’s a number and a word’s a word.

I don’t know what being 50 means any more than I did being 40, 30 or 21. they’re all just train stations on life’s journey that I half registered as they passed by. It is what’s going on inside the carriage that is important. That and the journey the train takes.

Still feeling as though I’m waiting to grow up, it intrigues and fascinates when I read questions on travel forums from people who say really odd things like ‘We’re in our 50s but we still like to go somewhere lively.’

Why the hell wouldn’t they? In the last year I’ve jumped out of a plane and dived beneath the deep blue for the first time in my life. The opportunities occurred and I jumped at the chance to do both (well with the plane it was more a case of being cajoled). Thought of age just wasn’t/isn’t a factor. It’s meaningless. I am who I am. That’s it. I don’t define myself or feel defined by a number – I’m not The Prisoner.

But by the number of ‘we are a couple in our 50s but…’ comments, there are plenty who do feel the shackles of numbers which must be terribly restricting.

George Clooney is 50. Tom Cruise is 49. Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp are both 48.

Can you honestly imagine any of them ever saying ‘I’m a man in my late 40s/early 50s but I still like somewhere with a bit of life. Nothing too lively though…’

Dump the numbers and live. Growing up is overrated and will only make you old.

  1. If you could see me now you would see that I am giving you a standing ovation. 50 was for me the beginning of new chapter in life, and I never gave my age a thought until about ten years later, then I chose to ignore that thought, but, as you say, I keep getting very niggled by those same sort of comments. I thought that the best way was to ignore my age, but it seems that others can’t, (even though, to be fair, their comments are usually positive), and now I am thinking, well, celebrate it!

    I hadn’t realized it had been your birthday, so a belated “Happy Birthday” – hoping your personal new year, seeing as it is a significant number, is as glorious as the way you marked it.

    • dragojac says:

      Thanks Linda and thanks for the belated happy birthday. If it wasn’t for Andy ‘encouraging’ me to acknowledge it, I’d ignore it. Not in a grumpy, bah humbug sort of way; just that I’ve never really paid a lot of attention to it (I suspect because it’s the day before a big party anyway).

  2. Diane says:

    Well the evening before my 50th was a big of an awful experience (that improved greatly within the week!) so, like you, it passed without much thought. I remember have a huge issue with reaching 40 though with all the usual mid-life crisis (hate that term but it explain stupid things I did!!) events being explored.
    Steven and I had this discussion recently when we were both suffering from aches and pains of work….he runs a drainage company and was short staffed so had to do the work himself and I had been gardening for a client. We both feel as though we are in our 20’s…..Steven even commented that I have a body of a woman in her 20’s, but this highlights the need for an eye test…..another little tell tale sign of the aging process!
    However reality strikes with the input of our youth…….Steven employed a chap last week who celebrated his 38th birthday that week. Steven is 51 and asked the guy what age he thought he was. 42 he replied? No, I’m actually 35 said Steven. Pause……”this job is more difficult than I thought”!!

    • dragojac says:

      Brilliant. Love that story about Steve.

      “I have a body of a woman in her 20′s…” Ah, but did he mention which woman in her 20s?

      My only real age crisis was when I was in my 30s and was absolutely knackered after playing football with my 8 year old nephew after about a minute. That was the beginning of the end of the fags.

  3. In answer to the question in your title, the same way I got to 55 this week without growing up. 🙂

    IMHO, being a grown up is for people who lack the imagination or balls for any alternative.

    You just continue being who you are.

  4. OOOh can I “like” Pam’s comment?!!!!

    And knowing how you feel, my birthday’s between Christmas and New Year – always, always a total washout! My son sent me a lovely “half birthday” surprise last year because he knew!

    • dragojac says:

      Yup, it’s a killer of a period. If my mum had held on 15 minutes more it would have been perfect – the biggest party of the year every year. and I would be sharing it with SAF 🙂

      • Nikki says:

        I am approaching the half a century this year and it’s a very odd feeling as inside I still feel 27, and like you Jack I am still waiting to feel officially grown up, but suspect that it’s not going to happen, in my case anyhow !

        I remember a few years ago being told by a 25 year old that it’s really great that I still windsurf as it keeps me young at heart ! I know she meant it as a compliment, but I thought sorry, but is being 47 deemed as being old, I think not ! God knows what she would say to my windsurfing friends who are in their 70’s who are wave riding !
        I suppose too a 25 year old though anyone over the age of 35 is old .

      • dragojac says:

        To steal from Oscar, youth is wasted on the young.

        We’re the perfect age to appreciate it 🙂

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