Never Get Old


I believe this because the primary attribute of youth seems to be a freedom of lifestyle, and a freedom to follow one’s passions—not the age of our bodies.

Getting old, in other words, means embracing an external, society-defined set of restrictions on ones behavior. Some examples:

  • Old people work jobs they don’t like, because they have to

  • Old people have children, even if they would rather not

  • Old people spend most of their days doing things they’d rather not do

The word “old” here can dangerously be substituted for “responsible”, or “mature”, which is a true indictment of any society where that’s the case. Society expects people in their late 20’s to do certain things, in other words, and you’re encouraged to do those things or be labeled a non-conformist.

I’ll take that. I’ll take perpetual youth. Thanks.

And that doesn’t mean not having a good job. It doesn’t mean not caring about others, or not having responsibilities. Those are part of being an adult (meaning, not a child), and they do not need to be associated with the full legacy saddle of conformity.

Here’s what I think it means to stay young:

  • Love your partner like a romance, not a contract

  • Throw yourself into your work, because you love your job

  • Live where you want, for as long as you want

  • Have time for yourself, and for your partner

  • Travel when you want to

  • Experience what you want to

In sum, youth equates to being passionate about your life and doing what you feel you want to do and should do.

“Getting old”, or “growing up”, seems in our society to mean that you stop doing what you want to do and start doing what others think you should do.

  • Take the job you hate because you have to

  • Have kids, or more kids, because someone else wants you to

  • Move to the city you hate because it has the job you hate

  • Stop hanging out with your friends, because your partner doesn’t like it

  • Give up on painting, or writing, or whatever because it’s not “realistic”

These are old things. This is what it truly means to get old.

Getting old means giving up. It means accepting the saddle. It means merging one’s individuality and desires into a collective that does not share your ideals nor your priorities, simply for the sake of convenience and not wanting to make a scene.

Or, even worse, it means convincing oneself that you actually wanted that saddle.

So many people I have known become 1/3 of themselves as soon as they “settle down”. They are signaled by society, their partners, their friends who have also been saddled, and everyone else around them that it’s time to get in line. It’s time to conform.

And one by one, year after year, they slow to the pace of beaten animal. They repeat the script that’s been handed to them by others until they eventually forget that it wasn’t their script. After a few years they think it was THEIR idea to watch sitcoms and wait for death.

Now, it must be said that this isn’t always the case. There are some who are able to do those things that come with getting old and being saddled, yet they refuse to conform.

This would be a person who simply likes children, or likes owning a home, or likes doing whatever thing that people happen to do when they follow certain social norms. But it doesn’t have to mean that. Kids can be great. Mortgages can be great. Marriages can be great. All those things can be part of being perpetually young, and living the life that YOU want to live.

But it’s the exception.

In most cases these things (especially when taken all at the same time as a matter of course) are a signal of submission. It leads to getting old.

Most people who do these things, at around 27-33, suddenly start accepting whatever comes at them. Their free time is taken from them, and they don’t complain. They get a worse position at work, and they don’t complain. They’re constantly berated by their partners, and they don’t complain.

The problem is that somewhere inside they know they’ve given up, and they hate themselves for it, so when life proceeds to treat them like garbage they silently nod their agreement.

It’s depressing to watch.

Here’s a metric for you: Ask any given 35-year-old about their job. If they don’t do one of two things, they’re old:

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  1. Light up and start talking about how much they enjoy it

  2. Light up and start talking about how they’re leaving their current job to get the job they really want

If they aren’t doing one of those two things, they’ve checked out. It means they hate what they do for most of their waking hours, yet they’re not doing shit about it.

Here are some other ways to identify old people:

  • You ask them what they ever did with that book idea, and they tell you life got in the way

  • You ask them why they never moved to France like they said they wanted to, and they tell you the job in Cleveland paid slightly more

  • You ask them why they married that one person instead of the person they really liked, and they tell you it just kind of happened

  • You ask them why they had kids instead of traveling like they planned on doing, and they tell you that there was pressure from the families

  • You ask them why they don’t read, or think about politics, or vote, or contemplate world affairs, and they tell you that they don’t have time after doing their job that they mostly hate

That’s an old person.

If that person is 28, he’s as old as a 77-year-old who made the same choices decades ago.

My advice

Don’t get old.

Decide early what you want from life, and don’t let anyone take it from you. Live that life, and keep living it.

If you are lukewarm on children, and you think you’d rather travel around and meet people, don’t meet some random girl in your early 20’s and start a family out of laziness.

If you know you want to live in Portland, don’t meet some random guy in your late 20’s and move to Birmingham, Alabama for the rest of your life because you’re not sure you can meet someone else. Don’t do it.

If you know you want kids more than anything, and you’re with someone who hates them, don’t stay with them out of weakness and become a cat person. Go have a family with someone else.

If you know you want to be a veterinarian, don’t take the accounting job instead because your boyfriend wants to start a family right this second. Fuck him. Tell him to start a family somewhere else.

Being young is a mindset. It’s a refusal to slow down and accept conformity. It’s a refusal to do what old people do.

Pursue and live the life you want, not the life you have. That’s freshness. That’s optimism. That’s ambition. That’s what it means to be young, and no matter your age you should never leave it behind you.

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