A Question of Age

Over the break, I have visited family and caught up with some friends. People keep asking me what it is like to be studying with people so much younger than me. Well. Sometimes I notice and sometimes I don’t. After all, what is age? Just a number. That said, for most of my life, most of my friends have been older than me. Hanging out with people younger than my favourite fridge magnet has been new and different.

I’m not the oldest person in my year, but I guess I’m close to it. Again, though, what is age? A fellow student born the same year as me is less mature, less together, less worldly, less wise, than half the students two thirds her age. At med school, my closest friends and the people I enjoy hanging out with the most range from a few years younger than me, to twelve, thirteen years younger. So what? Nothing. We’re at uni, I forget we’re not the same age… most of the time.

Sometimes though, it hits me. Last week I had a birthday and now I’m officially mid-to-late thirties. So hanging out with people in their early-to-mid twenties, yeah, ok, I’m the old lady. I forget that. I’m not sure if it matters. It is what it is.

Sometimes it’s a case of been there, done that, can’t be bothered doing it again. Sometimes I wonder if I’m trying to recapture something of my past. Sometimes I can’t believe I’m embarking on my third career. That I’m starting out at the bottom of the ladder again. I can’t believe I no longer have an income. That my dad just gave me money for clothes. I find myself talking about things I did ten, twenty years ago. Relieved that I’m not going through all the things people go through in their twenties. Going through all the things people go through in their mid-to-late thirties instead.

I don’t have kids, and it’s getting to the point that I probably never will. I have a mortgage and a long-term partner and various critters. I own art and shares and a car and we have not yet drunk the cellar. I have a gold amex, a vegie garden and a chunk of the Berlin Wall. I have not yet started drinking cask wine. I listen to ABC radio and triplej in a 5:1 ratio. I remember the Cold War and the first Gulf War. I’m not ‘old enough to be your mother’, but we could probably date.

So, in answer to the question. I have learned a lot from people younger than me this last year, and I have relied heavily on people younger than me for friendship, support and advice. My grandmother tells me that her best friends have been people ten years her junior, so there’s nothing new in this. Most of the time, I don’t think about it, and when I do, it doesn’t matter. Don’t let something as intangible and irrelevant as age put you off starting something new.

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