Have you ever had the thought of being too old to start a certain hobby? Or perhaps you are still waiting for the right moment to come around? While this article cannot make the start for you, it might help you clarify what it is that holds you back. So, grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea and let’s reflect. Are you ready?
A most vivid memory of mine that perfectly fits the scenario, is when I was around 9 years old accompanying my little sister to her first ballet class. I remember playing very cool when the instructor asked me whether I would also like to start ballet. And while I did not say it, I thought that I was way too old to do ballet.
Thinking of this moment I can only shake my head. How did I already have this misconception of being too old at that age? Well, I don’t know. But as years went by I kept looking back to this moment thinking that if I had started then, I would have been dancing for about 5 years already. Or if I had started the last time I thought back to this moment, then I would have been dancing for at least 2 years now. You get the idea.
So, what was it that kept me from simply starting at that moment? What is it that keeps all of us from starting to, for example, learn to play the guitar, from getting into a weekly work-out routine, or from programming an App? While these examples seem rather disconnected, they all hold one similarity: They all involve US! In the end, it is up to us whether we give something a try or not.
We should see the “not accepted” as a sort of grey zone.
Social norms have taught us early on what is and what isn’t accepted in society. But rather, we should see the “not accepted” as a sort of grey zone. I might have felt ashamed to start ballet, but in the end, no one would have forbidden me to do so anyway. While I was too young to realize that such norms had compromised me even at the age of 9, we are now able to pinpoint these norms. So, let’s crush some of the beliefs contributing to the thought of “being too old”. Perhaps then, you are able to tackle some of your own forgotten dreams.
You are never too old!
Don’t even waste one more second of believing that you are too old for something. With that I don’t just mean too old to start a new hobby, but also too old to still be studying, too old to not yet be in a relationship, too old to still have no clue about your purpose in life, or simply too old to learn a new language.
I myself started studying at 20 and even changed my bachelor’s along the way (check out Part 1 of my series), and it was the best decision I have ever made. I let go of the norm in my head that compromised me of the possibilities of my future. So step outside the box that society has put you in, and live the life that you want to live yourself. And to help you with the math, if you decide to learn programming at 25, you will have gained 10 years of experience by 35, and you will have 35+ years left to work in that field. So why the hurry?
Define your own success
One norm that I believe drives this misconception of “being too old” is the focus on success. From the moment we get into school we are taught to strive for the best grades and to outcompete others. Maybe 9-year-old me already thought that she could not succeed at dance starting this late. Instead, I should have only thought about whether I would like to dance or not. Success should not be the reason why we start a new hobby, but rather, because it brings us joy.
However, if you do need success as a sort of motivation, then remember you define your own success. If I had seen success as “making a lot of money” I would have probably given up on any dream. Rather, I defined my own success as growth, whether this means keeping up my work-out routine for two weeks or simply starting to write for Medium. Any step that brings me further and pushes me out of my comfort zone is what I now define as success.
So, don’t stress and define your own success!
You set your own limit
And don’t forget that you can change the thought that is limiting you. For a long time, I have pushed off my desire to write a book. While I really wanted to write it, I over-pressured myself with the focus on the end product that I lost my joy in writing. By redefining success into growth, I took this pressure off myself and decided to write for Medium. I wanted to regain my joy for writing and explore why I started writing in the first place. Not only did I define success for myself, but I also removed the limiting belief that “I can only be a writer once I’ve written a book”. No matter what thought it is that holds you back from accomplishing your dreams, remember that in the end, it all lies within your own control!
Even if something like the global pandemic has made you hit a wall (been there too) because your plans keep falling apart, because the thought of a normal life seems further away than ever, or because you are going crazy thinking of another day stuck within your four walls. Remember that this feeling of limitation is only a mindset. It’s your life and I hope you choose to be happy no matter what!
Cover: Danielle MacInnes