For the first time in my life I’ve stopped thinking of myself as a child imitating an adult.
I’m the baby of the family. My brother is five years my senior and most of my cousins are older than I am too. This has surely colored the way I have come to experience and interpret the world around me. Whenever I meet anyone who vaguely resembles an adult, with a reasonably respectable job or some sort of direction in their life, I subconsciously assume they are older than I am. They must be. I’m just a kid.
And all this time, even though I’ve been writing professionally and running my own small business for more than a decade, I’ve always felt like I was simply playing the role of the adult. At least on a subconscious level. I’ve always felt like I needed to defend myself and my decisions, “proving” to the people around me that I’m a grown-up doing grown-up things. But I’m really still just a kid.
While We’re Young stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as a 40-something married couple who befriend a 20-something hipster couple played by Adam Driver (yes, Kylo Ren) and Amanda Seyfried. They’re initially invigorated by their youthful, spontaneous energy. They see this world of possibility and how it’s not too late to live life in the moment and to the fullest.
But the more time that Ben’s character (Josh) spends with Adam’s character (Jamie) in While We’re Young, the more he realizes just how different they are. Jamie is still just a kid, while Josh’s friends are busy having babies. In terms of age, I fit right in between these two characters. In terms of perspective, I identify a lot more with Josh.
Maybe it’s because he’s also a creative professional who feels like his career is in a bit of a rut. I may be only in my mid-30s, but I’ve really come to question whether or not I’m going through a midlife crisis. Do I feel like I’ve wasted my youth? Am I unsure about where I should go from here? Can I still achieve my goals and ambitions?
I’ve learned along the way you can discover more by allowing yourself to be surprised by what you encounter.
There’s a saying that while typically used in the context of parenting, it’s equally applicable to life in general. The days are long, but the years are short. If you’re out there hustling, working those long hours in hopes of achieving something great, life is going to be hard. It’s going to be arduous. But don’t blink, because it’ll be over before you know it.
I think we all make these grand plans for ourselves. We have those glorious visions of what our future should look like. I’m going to have X by the time I’m 35. I’m going to have Y by the time I’m 45. We spend so much time with our heads in the clouds (and paradoxically, our noses to the grindstone) that we forget to allow life’s great joys to meet us halfway. Open yourself to the possibility of serendipity.
This is coincidentally the second time I’ve featured a Ben Stiller movie for a Sunday Snippet. Maybe there’s something about him and films about self-discovery. Maybe we’ve got more to learn while we’re young.