donderdag 13 november 2014

As I age

Insight comes from strange places. Today it came from Reddit

"One thing I've come to realise as I've got older is that no matter what age I am, I always think that I'm old and my best years are behind me. Only to realise a few years later, just how young I really was." 

I do this, thinking that I am too old for stuff. That it's too late. I do this ALL. THE. TIME. (I do a lot of other stupid stuff too, for which I am reading Sonya Lyubomirsky's The how of happiness.)

Just today, I had lunch with an old acquaintance and hopefully new friend, and I told the story of how my mother never studied to be a nutritionist even though I think she would have been a fantastic one (given her knowledge, I don't think she actually would have needed to study. But certificates have a way of opening doors.) She didn't because at 45 (give or take a few years) she considered herself too old to go back to school and to start a new career. I have always thought that was a ridiculous argument. It's not about age - it's about enjoyment, it's about adding value, it's about growth. 

And then I read this comment on a Reddit thread, and suddenly, I realised. I am doing the exact same thing. I am telling myself I will never be a proper newspaper journalist, because I'm too old. (I can build this into a proper, rational argument, involving the dying industry of newspapers, the raising of gorgeous children, the non-existence of part-time work, my place of residence, my native language, but really, age is what it boils down to.)

I can honestly state that every job I have done as a freelance journalist has turned into a repeat job. I used to apply for editorial jobs, reasoning that even if the publication didn't hire me (it usually didn't) the interviewing editors would give me work on the strength of the examples of writing I provided (they did). 

But that coveted newspaper position has always eluded me. I called the paper that had provided me with glowing references after my internship and asked my former editor why he turned down my application.

"Did you apply?" asked the editor, rummaging through his records. "I'm sorry, we received over 400 applications. What year were you born?"

It turns out they threw out every application that stated a birth year before 1980 and I am a child of the seventies.

The editor did call me back later, offering me a temporary position to fill in for somebody's maternity leave. It just happened to coincide with my own maternity leave. 

I cried so hard that day. 

When I finally landed on my feet at energy news agency Energeia, I felt blessed. Here were people who liked my writing, tried to teach me what I needed to learn (a lot), who operated on the highest standards (quite a bit higher than the standards at my beloved paper, as I discovered) and who trusted me to do my job. Finally, I was chipping away at living the dream.

And then we moved to Singapore. I've tried my hand at several things, including full-time parenting (ha.ha.ha), and circled back, three years later, to writing. Because this is what I know how to do

But really, I think my time is past. I think I've had my chances. The small voice in my head tells me that if this writing thing is what I was meant to do, then it would have happened by now. I would be part of a news room, I would have my own beat, maybe even a column in a magazine (yes, these are the heights of my professional ambition.) That it hasn't happened means that I am not good enough. And now I am too old, going down the wrong side of my thirties. The decline has set in. (Recently I wondered whether I was sleeping in a new position as my skin looked so strangely crepe-y in the morning, but I have since realized this is because my skin has in fact started to sag). But if this writing thing is not it, what then? I pretty much fail at everything else. 

I adored the comments on Reddit from people remembering their grandfathers, finally getting to know them when the grampy's were already well into their sixties. How it enriched their lives. I loved the stories from the people who decided to make a change (lose weight, spend more time with family, appreciate their wives a bit more) in their forties and who in their fifties are incredibly happy that they did. 

It is not too late. It is never too late. It is only our culture that says that the world belongs to the young. It doesn't. 

The world belongs to the living.



"When I get older, I will be stronger, they'll call me freedom"


NaBloPoMo November 2014

1 opmerking:

  1. Dit vind ik een knap geschreven verhaal waarmee je mij ook aan het werk zet! Goed van je.

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