So, there is an NPR article floating around the twitterverse today. It’s all about how important your 20s are to the rest of your life. The entire article quotes all kinds of statistics, and is and of itself, inherently wrong in every possible context of the word. Of course, we all already know this. We all have floating around in the back of our minds this brilliant understanding that no matter what we’re doing at the moment, we could conceivably do something else entirely at any point. Basically, we all know that we have options, no matter how old we are. Still, articles like this have a certain, powerful sway over people because as much as we know that we can always change directions, we are completely terrified to do so.
Society Benefits from You Being a Coward
Let’s face it. Our entire social structure is built around the idea that you are going to decide what you want to be at age 18 and then spend the next 47 years of your life either working towards becoming that or doing that. We also rely on roughly 90% of people giving up on the big dreams of being successful and wealthy and going for the small easy to obtain goal of being average… which in the modern context means almost able to survive if you work two full time, dead end jobs.
We need the vast majority to suck, or else there is no top. That’s the secret, magical power that the top 1% has over the rest of us. Our entire culture, indeed our very genetics, are built on the idea that some of us are more awesome than others, and thus we create barriers and roadblocks to stop anyone but the select few from jumping into the heights of awesomeness. Some of these roadblocks are much more powerful than others, it’s much easier to go from upper middle class to lower upper class than to go from poverty stricken to middle class, for example, but they’re all real.
The idea that you have a 10 year window (only 1/8th of the Average American lifespan) to decide where you’re going to be in life is one of those barriers. Like most things that keep society structured, this is a bold faced lie.
Seth Godin and The Dip
It’s pretty amazing timing to me that this topic comes up so soon after I read Seth Godin’s awesome book, The Dip. The Dip is a neat little book that talks all about the road blocks that are put in place to maintain the scarcity of success and keep the people who aren’t really meant to be as awesome as me from succeeding. If you haven’t read it yet, you should be reading it right now, it might just help you understand how to get what you want in life and how to not get stuck sitting in a cubicle doing something you don’t enjoy for 40 years and then dying of asbestos poisoning. Basically, it’s a book about quitting stupid crap and sticking with awesome crap even when it gets so hard that you think you’re going to explode, because right before it crushes you into powder is when you reach the top of the hill and suddenly realize you’re a God King.
Seriously, read the damn book.
The Bottom Line about Age
Here’s the bottom line: You only stop growing when you die.
Flat out, that’s that. You don’t stop changing and evolving until you die. The idea that you have to spend 1/8th of your life determining the next 50 years is stupid. It’s a dinosaur belief hanging around from 80 years ago when people only lived to be 60 and your life was half over by the time you hit 30. The cold hard facts are that you never have to stop striving for what you want in life. You shouldn’t stop looking to make your life better, or the lives of your family and your community better.
There are a ton of great people that didn’t even get started until they were already in their 30s or later.
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