What Getting Older Has Taught Me About Being Young

Most times it was all about acceptance.

As a bratty spitfire of a kid I don’t remember a time I ever longed to reach the age I am now. Back then, I really couldn’t see how getting old was going to help me much. I mean, from my childish view point I never saw the up side of dentures and toupees, using walking canes or smelling of lidocaine ointment.

A lot goes through the brain of a man-child as he matures.

But never thoughts of becoming old enough to remember the Russians launching Sputnik, or the days before personal computers, tablets and smartphones.

When we were young everything was an adventure, a marvel of experiences, some good, some bad, but we gladly soaked it all in. We accepted all the things happening and learned to embrace any and all life lessons which came to us with passionate bursts of enthusiasm.

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Photo by Jean Gerber on Unsplash

We lived at the speed of light, rushing to get to the other end of the spectrum. We didn’t know what we’d find, and frankly we didn’t really care. We just wanted to get away from where we were at the moment and dive into another experience, another adventure.

As time passed, the adventures changed, but we really didn’t challenge them. We realized to achieve all the things we envisioned (or were taught to envision) as a child, we would need to ditch our laissez-faire lifestyle and throw ourselves into the challenges of building careers and families.

Most of us accepted the requirements as the norm and we put our shoulders to the mill stone and began to push. The shit was tough as hell.

But we were still young back then.

We had the energy and gumption to work our asses off and we often did, sometimes building a fantastic career while at the same time destroying our newly built family in the process.

A lot us of accepted the loss as the cost of doing business. But we still kept plugging away at new found adventures, all the while never getting anywhere close to that perfect life we envisioned as a child.

Then we reached a point where we discovered we couldn’t change direction on a whim like we once did. We’d careened thorough life imposing far too many requirements on ourselves, mentally, physically and monetarily. We were forced to make a choice. Either prostitute our childhood dreams for things we never really wanted in the first place or try to take the highroad and end up sleeping in a cardboard box beneath an overpass.

Some of us took the cardboard box.

For the rest of us our fear of losing everything forced us to accept the fact we’d boxed ourselves into a horrible existence of our own making. We accepted the fact we would forever be forced to endure crappy jobs, hated and feared bosses, suck-ass pay, and toxic work environments.

We accepted the fact this would be our life until we grew old and died.

And a lot of us have died, but for the one’s still alive today, one of which is me, we’ve learned a lot of lessons about our younger days.

I’ve learned the one thing I never did when I was young was refuse to accept something which wasn’t going to fit in my plans. I always thought the fine art of compromise and acceptance would eventually get me where I wanted to go, where I dreamed of going.

It never did.

I learned that as a youngster I just accepted things and moved on. I accepted the fact life was a roller coaster adventure and I was along for the ride, and that I couldn’t get off until the end of the line.

Now I realize that was bullshit.

I could have stopped that ride and found another one anytime I fucking wanted to, I just didn’t. My younger self was content to accept something my older self would have never put up with.

Looking back, I realize when I was young I spent most of my life accepting a lot of bullshit.

No more. It’s not too late for me to change (I ain’t dead yet) and it sure as hell isn’t too late for you. But as hindsight is always 20/20 I have a lot more lessons learned I can peruse. You, maybe not so much.

Hey, don’t sweat it, we all have to start somewhere and for our species birth is the beginning of the journey.

I just might be a little (for some of you a lot) further down the road.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not regretting my life and the decisions I made back then. I’m not asking for a do over. In fact, I’m kinda glad I made it this far. I just wish I’d been a lot more brave and more willing to listen to the fire in my young gut back then instead of accepting things as they were.

Remember this sports fans. From the moment we suck in that first breath to the very moment we expel our last one, our lives belong to us, nobody else. We don’t have to lay down and let life kick our asses.

We don’t have to simply accept the current status quo as being our status quo. We have a right to mold our lives into what we think is best for us and take ourselves in whatever direction we want to go.

All in all, when I was young I never dreamed I would be able to teach life lessons to myself as an old man.

Funny how that shit works.

P.G. Barnett lives in Texas bliss with his wife. Not so much bliss with two female cats. Thus, the warped sense of humor.

Let’s keep in touch — paul@pgbarnett.com

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A published author enjoying married Texas bliss. Dog person living with cats. A writer of Henry James' stories. Featured In MuckRack. Top Writer In Fiction.

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