A marketing manager told the Wall Street Journal recently for a story the newspaper ran on age that he felt old when a Starbucks barista called him “Sir.” A college professor who studies age still found herself taken aback when she got a mailing saying she was eligible for senior discounts.
I’ve written before that I don’t pay much attention to age — it’s a number, you can do a few things to slow it down, but there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it — but there have been a couple of incidents lately where I’ve felt my age. Here’s what I’m talking about:
—When some of the great athletes that I grew up watching in my youth — Magic Johnson, Dan Marino, Wayne Gretzky, and Cal Ripken Jr. to name a few — are considered not just old, but downright ancient.
—When I realize that if I were to run for President, Senator or even or even Representative, no one would be pointing a finger at me and calling me “that young upstart.”
—When I get together with other coworkers for a project kick-off and realize that I’m one of the older members in the room (and I’m not even that old.)
—When I read my phone and notice that I’m looking over my glasses. My daughter does the same thing, but she does it because she’s picked up a bad habit. I do it because I’m getting older, my eyesight is getting worse, and I need new glasses.
—When my coworkers mention some new, trendy app they’ve downloaded on their smartphone and they ask me what new apps I’ve downloaded. Yea, I don’t think Instagram or Facebook are what they had in mind.
So yes, sometimes I feel old, but then there are times when I still feel young, including:
—When I stop at the wine and spirits store on my way home from work to surprise my wife with a nice bottle of wine and I see the store owner — out of the corner of my eye — watching me. I’m pretty sure no one would confuse me as underaged and, dressed in a suit jacket, I doubt he considers me a shoplifting threat. No, it’s all in my mind. All these years later, when I enter a bar or liquor store, I still feel like a little kid sheepishly sneaking into a place I don’t necessarily belong.
—When I’m talking with an intern at my company and he or she asks for career advice: how I got to where I’m at today; my educational background; how I overcame specific challenges, etc. When that happens, I always want to stop the interview to tell them that I’m just like them and have no idea what I want to do with my life or what I want to do when I grow-up.
—When our eight-year-old dog Nittany licks my hand when I come home for the evening, excited and happy to see me. It’s hard to feel old when your dog adores you just for being you.
In the end, I come back to my belief that you’re only as old as you think you are.