We never know how much time we have left.
That’s not a feel-good self-help clche’. It’s a literal truth.
People are snatched from their lives at relatively young ages for a variety of reasons. People who by rights should have lived shortened lives live into relatively older age. There are no guarantees about how long we have left.
We THINK we have a fairly good idea of how long we MIGHT have left. We tell ourselves we’re young, middle aged, or old. But really all we’re doing is just observing the average lifespans of other humans and making a guess. We don’t actually know.
And yet: how often do we let those imaginary labels— young, middle aged, old— get into our heads and impact how we feel, how motivated we are, what we’re willing to plan for and devote effort to?
Whatever age you happen to be, you have the same twenty four hours that everybody of every other age has available to you today.
Whatever age you happen to be, there are people who are going to die before you and people who are going to die after you.
Whatever age you happen to be, you still have values and goals that require your attention.
Whatever age you happen to be, there are still knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will make your life more livable.
It’s never too late to improve your day to day life. Again, that’s not just a feel-good cliche’. It’s a fact.
It’s true that people in different age brackets tend to prioritize different kinds of goals. It’s also true that human biology makes it more practical to pursue certain kind of goals at different life stages than others. It’s silly to pretend otherwise.
That said, a large subset of people fall into the trap of believing that because the culture around them has decided they aren’t in the ideal advertising demographic, that they’ve somehow been “passed by” by the world.
There are people who believe that because they’re not as young as they once were (NOBODY is as young as they once were, incidentally) they’ve somehow “missed their chance” to live a life of pleasure and purpose.
That’s not true. It’s just a narrative.
Granted, it’s a narrative that gets pushed by popular culture a lot, because popular culture has always been preoccupied with identifying the “next big thing” that will be profitable. That is to say, media and entertainment companies have always been disproportionately interested in what motivates younger people to spend money.
No matter your age, you wake up every day with the same challenge we all face: how am I going to nudge toward my goals and life my values in this twenty four hours?
No matter your age, you wake up every day with the same fundamental questions we all face: what do I want to feel? What are my needs?
Shifting your focus from what the culture or the people around you think you “should’ want and need, based on your age or generation, and refocusing on your unique understanding of what YOU want and need, is super important to building and maintaining our self-esteem.
If you’re reading these words, you’re still in the game. No matter how it feels, your clock hasn’t run out.
You are more than an advertising demographic.
You are more than the cultural attitudes toward your generation.
You have things to offer the world and other people, just like everybody of every age and generation does.
How others view you based on your age or generation might be an inconvenience or hassle. But it’s far deadlier if we let the views and attitudes of others creep into our heads and become our OWN estimation of our worth.
Remember that you are you. You are still a work in progress. You are still learning, maturing, figuring out what you want and need and value on a day to day basis.
Remember that you STILL need to develop the skills necessary to make your life more livable.
Remember that you CAN still develop skills to make your life more livable.
Age is more than a number. It does have real world implications. But it’s also not the defining statistic so many people assume it is, either.
Don’t sweat the time you have left. Because you don’t know, and you’re not going to know.
Focus on this twenty four hours.
No matter how old you are, you have TODAY.
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