On the cusp of yet another birthday on the rising (or declining) slope of life, I cannot help but ponder upon my new accumulated age. But I do not feel any older really. In fact, I have stopped feeling older for the past ten plus years.
It is strange how we are keeping count. In addition, we have more or less clearly defined areas such as the unpredictable and rambunctious teenage years, the realm of young adulthood, the wild, decadent and engulfing middle age and the supposedly subsiding re- and declining phase of old age. Most of these phases have been categorized and classified eloquently by the psychologist Erik Erikson. Yet in reality, closing in on the middle part myself, I do not feel much different about entering this most recent stage.
That said, I must admit that circumstances have actually changed. I may not feel older, but I feel different. What interested or fascinated me in the past has been adjusted to my current situation. Having my own family affects my outlook on life. But that has not so much to do with age but rather with circumstances.
What I do not appreciate, however, is being told how I am supposed to feel or act at a certain age. It reminds one of childhood where parents would always claim that one is immature or childish for one's age! We often do likewise by complaining how so-and-so does not act (or sometimes even look) their age.
There are no real guidelines for how one ought to behave. Of course, living in society one must adhere to certain rules. A lot of it is organic though. I do not enjoy what I had enjoyed in my bachelorhood. I do fantasize about it occasionally, yet I would prefer a dinner with my wife and son to a wild drunken romp in the night / strip club (though there is nothing inherently wrong with that). We just adapt to the circumstances of the current flow of life.
The problem becomes more pronounced when one feels that one is lagging, when society expects you to do or have done something at a certain age, such as having a well-defined career, getting married and starting a family, buying a house and keeping a dog as a pet. One of my personal goals was to have published my first (of course best-selling) novel by the age of 27 (It never happened).
Anyhow, those rules of thumb or guidelines for “exemplary” life are always merely suggestions and you should follow them if and when you feel comfortable with them. In the meantime, you may get older physically but you still remain the same “young” person within, regardless of what bizarre and random number may show up on your driver's license.