Yes, I used to be cute.
When do we stop being young? When do we cross that line?
I wonder about this quite often, mainly because I have a nasty feeling I'm approaching the line in question. Either that, or I've already crossed it and I'm just fooling myself that it's still ahead rather than receding rapidly behind me.
I find that my perception of youth changes as I get older. When I was ten, say, it would never have crossed my mind that a nearly thirty-something adult with a baby on the way could possibly be considered young. In fact I would have laughed at the very idea (assuming you could drag me away from my copy of Lord of the Rings long enough to ask the question). But now, I tend to think of youth as extending right up until around the mid-thirties – you know, far enough to keep myself comfortably in that age bracket. And when I'm forty I'll probably stretch the definition again. In fact, I imagine I'll always use 'young' to mean 'up to and including a few years older than me'.
Of course, there's a more fundamental question here: namely, why does it matter? Why is it so important to me that I'm still young? The answer is depressing in its obviousness: I haven't achieved everything I want to achieve. There are goals I haven't met yet. And until I do, I have to think of myself as young, because that means I still have time to get everything done.
Perhaps when I'm satisfied with the accomplishments of my life, I'll be content to leave being young to my children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren (depending how long it takes me to reach that point). Perhaps then I'll accept that growing older is a good thing, because it means I'll have seen and done much more than I had before. But then again, if there's one thing I've realised it's that most of us are young inside. It's only the surface that ages; underneath we're the same people we've always been.
In which case, maybe that line really is wherever we choose to set it.
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