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I don't often think of myself as old. Okay, so as my mother gleefully pointed out at my last birthday, I've now entered medical middle age. And it's not like I've ever been one of those women who is afraid to admit her age - heck, ask me how old I am, I'll tell ya. No big deal.
But I just usually don't think of myself as old. It's helped by the fact that I know I don't look as old as I am, nor do I probably act it (I have no kids, hence no need to set an example of maturity. Well, it's a good excuse at any rate). And in my little office, I've been the 'baby' as long as I've worked there. Sure, we have a college intern, but among the consultants, I've been the youngest. It's just something I've gotten used to.
So it's a bit disconcerting to suddenly feel old in conversations. I'm working on this project with a large crowd of consultants from a number of different companies and backgrounds, and most of them are fresh-faced young men, full of energy, still extoling their days of college, still willing and ready to go out and party late on a weeknight, still relying on mom and dad to take care of things for them.
And I find myself feeling suddenly old. I find myself thinking things like 'they're so young!' Which is a bit of an eyeopener if I actually ponder the fact that they're only a few years younger than me. 18 is young - of course it is. But when did 25 join that category? It wasn't that long ago I was their age. Why does it sometimes feel like a lifetime? I remember a time when 30 seemed ancient and now that I'm there, it doesn't seem that old at all. Heck, even 40 doesn't really worry me...mostly.
It's not like I'm bemoaning a youth lost. In my life, I've learned that around every corner is something new to look forward to, and that getting older is actually a benefit at times, because it means more good things happen. But still, every once in a while age stares me in the face. It's not a physical thing, I suppose it's more mental. Despite best intentions I'm an adult and I'm more and more prone to think like one. And I guess that's not always an easy thing to accept. It's just something I wonder sometimes. Is there some magical age at which point we're supposed to start feeling our age? At what age do you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and not be surprised at what stares back at you? I'd like to think that the adage 'you're only as young as you feel' applies, but sometimes that's easier said than done. Like when I listen to these kids (and I can't believe I'm even referring to them as kids!) talking. And I feel old.