thinking

The Illusion of Growing Up

This is a trend that has carried through millennia:

When people turn thirty, twenty-somethings start to seem overly enthusiastic, optimistic and unrealistic. And when you turn forty, fifty, and so forth, the effect just gets emphasized.

At first, it feels embarrassing to have once been such a dewy-eyed teen.

But there is in fact an advantage the teens have on us. They do not suffer from the illusion of growing up. Yet. They have another illusion to deal with. The illusion of the grown-up.

When we are young, it seems that there must be a magical age when everything makes sense and clicks to place.

Whether it be 18 years, 21 years, 30, 40, or getting to retire, at some point this *must* make sense right?

At 36 years, I have to admit I have not yet crossed that line.

But I did notice for a moment I started suffering from that backwards view that seems to demarcate growing up. Sometimes the young just seem so unrealistic.

But in fact it is they that are realistic.

Reality is not a fixed thing. It is created by what we do. And we only do things if we believe in them.

As we grow older, we are easily succumbed by the illusion generated by our earlier setbacks. A less experienced person does not have so many setbacks, and thus no illusion.

The less experienced – younger? – person can thus put themselves to play more freely and emphatically.

And create the future they want to create.

Or at least take a shot at it.

But the illusion of growing up is brought on by us starting to buy into the fact that the past is what defines the future.

But it doesn’t.

Actions define the future.

Only if we rise up again and again, to meet new challenges, to fail and to try again, to succeed and build on past successes, do we create the future and the world that we are looking for.

While history may create a bleaker outlook of the future, it does also create more experience that can, with emphatic action, put to play in creating new things.

Experience and dewy-eyed optimism. Now would that not be a tremendously powerful combination?

It is no wonder that most of the greatest innovations in the world were not, after all, created by wunderkinds. They were created by forty-somethings, fifty-somethings and sixty-somethings.

The ones who forgot to grow up.

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3 thoughts on “The Illusion of Growing Up

  1. Macx says:

    I’ve always thought of myself as a naive young ambitious boy who didn’t know enough about the world. But that never stopped me from expressing seemingly outrageous and idealistic thoughts to anyone that would listen.

    Your post has given me strength. 🙂 I intend to stay as young and ambitious as long as I can and want. Fist bump! I look forward to your future posts.

  2. Wise words. In the end, it is only you who sets the boundaries. And it is only you, who has the power of breaking any existing ones. And I think practicing this becomes even more important when we get older!

    “There are two ways to live: one is as though nothing is a miracle; the other is as if everything is.” -Albert Einstein

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