Today, while I was busy doing some writing, I ended up having a rather insightful conversation about the subject of age. This subject comes up a lot, sometimes because it is a subject that for understandable reasons is often in my mind. As it happens, all of the people I was writing with were from very similar backgrounds to my own, and all of us within about a decade of each other in age (and I was towards the younger side of that decade). Given that age plays at least some role in the skit I was writing, as well as in the deeper context of that skit and what it means from my own voice, it is not surprising that the subject came up.
As tends to happen among people of a certain age, we discussed at what point we realized that we were adults and the process that involved. Both of the people I was writing with are already in their own families with their own children, and I am not, and the absence of a wife and child does tend to make someone seem very young even if they are conscientious and relatively mature. I have only recently gotten to the point where I feel comfortable calling older adults by their first name rather than Mr. or Mrs., although I still refer to people by that title (or by Master or Miss, if they are unmarried) when around younger folks, simply to set an example for politeness. I would venture to guess that the moment where it became acceptable to call older adults by their first name was the moment when it became unacceptable to consider much younger people to be peers. Considering that this is a fairly recent development, I do not feel very skilled at this sort of balance.
I simply don’t feel as old as I am, and we discussed the reasons for that as well. I was intrigued to hear that I was not alone in dealing with the bewilderment of having the expectations of behavior from outside change without having any sort of internal recognition of change. Nevertheless, if one recognizes that conditions have changed outside, then one has to respond to those changes successfully. If we are concerned about other people and their well-being and their feelings, then we have to demonstrate that concern in a thoughtful and appropriate way. To do that, for me, has required a great deal of help from other people who are more savvy than I am, a bit more seasoned, and a bit more mature. It will take a fair amount of time for everything to work itself out effectively, but hopefully things will work well.
In the meantime, I remain caught in between in the nether world between youth and a recognized adulthood. I am not sure how long that will last, and what will make it change. I do know that being in the cusp of generations and the odd course of my own life has not made those matters any easier, but it is something that must be dealt with successfully, as the past year and a half has been serious enough to demonstrate that the costs of failure are simply not acceptable to bear. As it happens, one of the people I was writing with today pointed out exactly, given where I stand in life, that I am caught in between, and that is simply something that has to be dealt with. Knowing that I have the encouragement and support of others does make it easier, but it still doesn’t remove all of the awkwardness that being in between states presents. If there is one thing I do particularly well, though, it is handle awkwardness with as much grace as can be mustered, so what must be done will be done.