Saturday, December 13, 2008

What's my age again?

I was born in 1981. Some of you readers will say - jeez - that's young! Others will say, wow, I didn't know she was that old already.

Age means nothing to me. It's a difficult thing to explain. I am not sure I will be able to but I'll give it a try.

When I moved to Holland the group of friends I made (who is still my core group of friends or how the young kids would call it - my "homies") were all a few years older than me. Most of them were three or four years older then me. I was the baby. I was (according to them) so innocent, so sweet, I was the little angel. I was however not taken seriously at all. You could say my first year in Holland was solely used to make myself look and feel more mature and less innocent. And believe me, I worked hard on that one.

It took me a few years. I don't know if nature simply took it's turn and I just grew up. You know, like people do when they get older or if it was the rough life I was living, moving every few months, having not really enough money to live on, going out all the time ...
Anyway, I guess I grew up or at least I was accepted as a grown up in our group.

A few years later I met E. E is 9 years older than me. People who don't know that but who know us are always surprised about that - I guess because E looks like in his mid-twenties - or like a teenager if he shaves. So when I first met his friends in Holland (a lot of them even older than E) it was difficult. There were rocket scientists and security network specialists and engineers and they were interested in things I had no idea about. I had never spoken to a rocket scientist before and I was intimidated. It took lots of nights out, lots of Jaegermeister and an Icelandic drink called "Black Death" to  break the ice and bring us together. The more I got to know them, the more I realized that we weren't really that different. We all were foreigners in Holland, we all wanted to have fun. That's a good common ground to build friendship on.

Now, years later, I can talk to anybody. I don't have issues with age, I don't see a problem with having older friends. One of my friends just became a grandma. Who cares. It really doesn't matter.

However.

Now I am starting to feel old. 

One reason for that is the fact that people in the US are getting married and having children much earlier than in Holland (and I guess Austria but mostly Holland). It's quite normal here that people get married at let's say 23 years old. 
E and I were engaged for 1 1/2 years - one of the reasons being that I did NOT want to be married at 24 or 25. It might sound silly but I just couldn't imagine being that young and being a wife. Don't get me wrong, I very much enjoy it now but any younger would have just been wrong (for me).

And then there is another issue. 

My whole life I planned to do a masters degree but I left to go to Holland when I was one month shy of 20 years old. I always had the intention to go back and finish my studies but I never did. I sometimes feel like I am stuck in a time zone were I am still 20 years old, ready to go to University to get my masters. I have strange moments, like once when I sat on the train with a bunch of 20 year old students and I felt like I was one of them (that happened about 6 month ago).
When I meet people who are younger than me who have their freakin' doctors degree I feel like that can't possibly be possible. There are lawyers, doctors, professors, archeologists, ... out there who are younger than me.

What did I do with myself in those last 7 years?

I guess living. That's what I did. I lived the life. I had fun. I grew up. I learned.

I don't know if I still need a masters degree but I know once I finish my correspondence classes in Photography I will take classes at a university. Not to get a degree but to keep my brain alive. To learn new things. To stay focused.

7 comments:

John said...

I don't think I know one person in Chicago who's been married by age 23. What kind of hillbilly-crowd you running around with?

The Austrian said...

E's coworkers.

John said...

Ah, that explains it. Computer-dorks, like hillbillies, tend to prefer the early marriage.

The classic statistician's trap: extrapolating from too small a sample size. I think you've hit on a statistical outlier, not a larger trend.

The Austrian said...

The average age of people getting married in the US is 26 years old. Since there are a lot of people getting married in their 30s there must be a lot of people getting married in their early 20s. Statistically speaking. But maybe it's just all those dorks and hillbillies. Who knows.

John said...

Perhaps. But you cited US marriage statistics to explain why you're feeling old. Are the statistics themselves making you feel old, or is it the impact of early marriage as an observable phenomenon around you among your peers that is doing so? Assuming it's the latter, the US data is irrelevant -- it's the data of your demographic in Chicago that's relevant. It's akin to my citing global poverty statistics to support my assertion that my neighborhood's poor.

Now don't go gettin' all fussy on me now. I'm just trying to keep your blog posts tight.

The Austrian said...

You never give up, do you?

The Austrian said...

But to answer your question - since I don't know many people in Chicago yet, my feeling old is based on the statistics, what I read (I read a lot of blogs) and what I see (very young looking people with babies and rings on their fingers - observational statistics).

What I was getting at, I guess, is the fact that people should have it "all together" - jobs, family, money, house ... at my age. And a lot more people here "have it all together" at my age than people in Holland or in Austria.