Here’s the thing about getting older: you decide if you do. Well, yes, we age, it’s noticeable, physically and psychologically, but all in all we decide if we’re ultimately old even though society deems us so when we’re tapping away at taxes and medical aid and car payments and watching the early evening news. We can’t go out two nights in a weekend because it’s exhausting and we’re slowly getting used to sophisticated wine, laughing at our younger selves who were bowing down before R18 bottles in Pick n’ Pay. And it’s funny to think that was just 3 years ago. And that back then, we could get away with wearing unimportant hoodies and jeans and buying late-night cheeseburgers without any inclination of trying to shop for Woolies salads and pro-Noakes foods. We could also get away with our parents buying us concert tickets.
It’s such a negative term, isn’t it? When I turned 25 last week, the questioning, the remarks were expected: tannie, ouma, jou ou ding. The phrase “a quarter of a century” terrified me. Mostly because I sounded like an old, hackneyed ship that was pulling into a port, creaking off the waves while locals prayed that my anchors would work. I hope ol’ quarter of a century makes it to shore! Aye! Aye! And I’d sit steadily while seagulls pooped and plastered the loose decks. And all I could think about the day after my birthday was: Abandon ship! Abandon ship! Luckily on my special day, I was surrounded by family and friends who made me realise how young at heart I was every year around my birthday. The long, hard hangovers the next day revealed it, too.
But the 20-somethings are a little overwhelming in that you’re supposed to harness some sort of ‘adulthood-ship’. There goes that reference again. Our parents and grandparents nudge us with thoughts about settling down, paying for more and eventually making a new human to endure the same situation we’re faced with now. I won’t poke people who are in that situation now. Just that I would personally like my ship in working order, several advancements with a masterful crew before I intend on reaching that point. And why invest, if you haven’t finished working on yourself?
Let me stop being mildly pessimistic about this. I was just thinking that perhaps it’s okay to delay this ‘adulthood-ship’ for as long as possible; that we can give a big finger to the idea that by 25, we’re supposed to have found what we really want in life and where we’re supposed to be. Because, I believe we won’t for a while and that some people, even at 40, don’t fit into that perfect situation in their heads.
Maybe we never will, but we should never stop searching or trying and believing that we can or that we could reach some sort of conclusion (perfect or not) that makes us happier. While we may be more settled, pay our usual scheduled payments and hope for the odd night when you become ‘wild’ and order tequila, there is an idea that ageing is becoming comfortable.
In truth, it should be a spring board into a new realm. It should almost be an uncomfortable excitement where plans are doings and anchored ships are only anchored to replenish and restore and rearm for fresh adventures and new unexplored areas. Sometimes, we have to do it ourselves, sometimes with a crew at hand, but either way, it’s us steering and reaching for a situation that is never stagnant. Don’t become stagnant. There’s nothing more hopeless than seeing someone settle on how things have gone instead of them paving a way that is more suited to what they want out of life. It’s a little easier said then done. Well, until it’s done – then you look back and see how it easy it was changing your attitude towards something.
Abandoning ship ain’t so bad after all and letting loose of those reigns is okay, too. As long as you have an idea or prolong that need to search for one, drowning will never be an option. Wanting more is not selfish. It’s almost necessary in a Life that commands normality. Wanting more is a little taste of your soul knowing and crying out for something other than what is around you – even though you’re thinking that wanting change is just some ‘quarter of a century’ phase that we’ll all get over. It’s not. When that little voice in the back of your mind tugs at new ideas, it’s because your heart wants it.
All aboard. It’s up to you.