If I ever hear the phrase, “Do it while you’re/they’re young!1!ELEVENTYONE!1!” again, it will be too soon.
Get this. Not everything in the world has to be done by a certain time in your life. You don’t need to travel the world, be fluent in five languages, buy a house, have children, get that great job, ad infinitum by the time you’re 25.
Nine times out of ten, people that employ that line of reasoning are the type of people that think everyone should do things their way all the time and that you are less of a person for doing it differently. After all, why spend 18 years of life being less of a person? DO IT NOW AND KEEP YOUR KIDS FROM BEING LOSERS!
Certain things are easier to do if you are young. Athletic training and learning a second language fluently are two of them. Yopung adults tend to have more energy and flexibility than older adults and children pick up languages faster than adults do.
But guess what. There is NOTHING stopping you from doing what you want to do at any point in your life (assuming class, health, and other issues of privilege don’t get in the way). You don’t *have* to do it right this second. You don’t have to do it the way the Joneses do it. Do if your way on your time.
Older adults can and do get active. Older adults can learn langauges and in some respects are better learners than children are.
There are advantages and disadvantages to doing things older vs. doing things younger. Don’t worry about packing your life full. You will never pack your life full enough. Every time you make a choice, you miss out on something else.
If you don’t get to do something you want to do, make it worth your while anyway. If you can’t travel, do research and watch foreign media. If you can’t start your own business, do something on the side or help someone else realize their ambitions. That way, when you DO get the chance, you will be prepared for it. You will have knowledge and experiences that you would not have had before and you will get more out of your endeavors.
Also remember that you don’t need to be talking or doing in order to get something out of life. For one reason or another, people assume that if you are an introvert or a homebody, you’re small-minded, unproductive, boring, and neurotic. You need to get out of your comfort zone (Christ in a cracker, I hate that platitude.) Don’t listen to them.
It is just as important to sit, listen, and reflect as it is to be out doing. You can’t take in what you’ve learned, and you can’t truly know yourself, until you have spent some serious time in reflection. Many artists, scientists, and other great thinkers have spent hours in solitude and quiet doing their work. Many great thinkers excel in multiple disciplines, but they do their best work in a few. Einstein played violin, but that’s not what he is remember for, is it? People that cover a lot of ground don’t always get much out of it because they can never give it the attention it deserves. The rolling stone gathers no moss. (People can spend their whole lives traveling the world looking for themselves and never finding it. Others pack their lives full of stuff because they are terrified of being alone with themselves. Yet when was the last time we insisted that these people “move out of their comfort zones,” slow the fuck down, and really evaluate themselves? But that’s anothe rant).
If you want to travel the world but aren’t interested in being a backpacker, why not wait until you are in your 30s? You will have a more mature perspective on life and people and will have time to learn more about the language and culture. Or if you plan on settling down in your 30s, you can do it as a young person and reflect on it later.
If you want to go to college because you want to have a job, a house, and settle in, go to college as a young person. If you want to go for personal enrichement, maybe going as an older adult is a better idea.
It’s your life, and there are upsides and downsides to each path you take. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are less than because your priorities are different or because you are going off the beaten path.
The same goes for your children. They DO NOT have to be fluent in five languages, winning spelling bees, and accepted to Harvard by the time they are 12. Assuming that they don’t burn out, they won’t necessary understand or benefit from it. They won’t necessarily use it. Some things-get this-are better off waiting for!
We all know young people that screw around in college and appreciate it only when they have to work in the real world. Then they know what an investment it really is. Having children is similar. Young moms can be good moms. You don’t need to be old or rich, or a PhD to be a good parent. On the other hand, it’s a good idea to at least have a diploma, a job, a sense of self, and some humility before becoming a parent. In that respect, parenting lends itself to the 20s rather than the teens. On the other hand, being older might mean less time and energy to pursue kids. Some people get lost in their careers or other obligations and the domestic sphere falls by the wayside. While this is a chosen lifestyle for many, others wish they had gotten married or had children (earlier).
And that’s all good. There is an abundance of life (and hopefully more brains) after age 30.
Raise the roof if you’re over 30 and still going strong.