How does it feel?
A few days after my birthday I look through my birthday greetings on Facebook and find a message from a former class mate. She wrote that I had told her that 27 was the “age of wisdom” during my 27th birthday party. Looking back I fear I might have been right. Even though my CV is more impressive, and I’ve clocked up number of air miles and random drunken adventures, I don’t feel wiser. I have simply collected a few more scars as I’ve continued to navigate through yet another city, trying not to bump my birthday-scarred-hand on too many hard objects. Yes, there is some melancholia built into this realization.
I remember seeing a Swedish TV-debate during my age of wisdom. The financial crisis had not yet erupted, but despite this Sweden faced significant youth unemployment. At the same time a number of young Swedish authors and politicians wrote books describing a reality where young people were increasingly detached from society and the job market. In the TV-debate three people in high level positions in powerful media companies discussed “my generation”. One said that we were lazy, another that our expectations were not in-line with reality. The third leaned back in the comfort of the studio sofa, dressed in red pants and a smug smile, and said: “I had no idea what I would do when I was growing up, but when I hit 27 everything just fell into place. Everything just works out when you are 27”. The well-to-do panel laughed and nodded their heads in confused agreement. It was all very nice and of course I wanted nothing else than to wipe the smug smiles off their faces. With my foot.
Things of course don’t “just fall into place” for most of us at twenty seven. But maybe I did think that at thirty they would have. Maybe I did pin my future direction on this very number, and maybe the fact that I am now pulling the pin out as I reflect on the construction of me I see cause for both some pride and alarm. If there was ever a time I would expect life to be a bit more settled, 30 would probably be a good bet for the 20-year old me. With that said, I have tried to make the most of the opportunities I have been given and even though it was not remotely as straight forward as the Swedish panel would have you believe, I have managed to get up to quite a large number of interesting things. Some of them painful and others incredibly fun.
I guess most of us do get somewhere if we really try. I will keep moving even though I am not getting wiser and my shoulders are sloping. But as I spend a bit too much time trying to twist and turn my head around this question, perhaps the answer is more about realizing that you are never done, that you never will have all the answers, that you might even have fewer of them than you had at 27. I suppose it’s both a melancholic and comforting conclusion. I suppose that is a feeling. That is how I feel.