At a retirement retreat a little while ago I had the realization that I’ve always been at least 20% older than myself…than my actual age.
Let me explain. I tend to think differently than my peers. I tend to get along with people older than me. I tend to get into more interesting discussions with people older than I am. It’s just the different way I think.
Looking back at some points in my life, I see a consistent pattern:
- When I was 12 years old, I was in charge of my Little League game. No, I wasn’t the star player on the team. When I was 12, I was actually an umpire for the local Little League. I umpired two games per night Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all summer long.
As usual for me, it started so simply and naturally. Because my birthday was before the age cutoff, I wasn’t able to play in the 12-and-under league with my classmates because I turned 13 before the end of the season date.
I didn’t like the higher league team I was assigned to, so I hung out with my friends in little league. One game they needed an umpire—I knew the rules and I was in. I just kept showing up and getting assigned to games. It didn’t matter to me that you had to be 16 years old to umpire, I just kept my mouth shut and kept working.
- 12-year-old home education. This is when my dad started teaching me about bonds and interest rate yields. He taught me about holding to maturity and how excellent 12% interest rates were at the time. He taught me the strange concept of how the “100 price” was strangely based on $1,000 units.
- At 21 years old I started teaching at my University. I was a junior in the Business College but had found a part-time job as a computer technician for a different part of the University the year earlier. Being a computer technician was a dream job with great work, flexible hours, and the pay was more than twice what I earned as a “student worker” previously.
So one day one of the teachers had a nervous breakdown and couldn’t finish her classes so I was asked to finish the rest of the semester for her Intro to PC class. I was happy to help and the next semester I got my very own classes. I ended up teaching 5 years as I finished undergrad and completed my Master’s program at night. (Who has a 21-year-old teacher in college, not an assistant, but it was MY class) I was even able to develop my own troubleshooting class and an early internet class.
- The next major interesting milestone was at 40 I started hanging with the retirees at a summer retirement community. I was able to work my corporate job remotely so I went to hang out at my mom’s home 3 hours away and as long as the internet was live, I was good. I did computer presentations each month and made dozens and dozens of new friends. They were great and living an awesome retired life.
I joined the ranks of being “retired” after leaving my corporate job a few years later at 43. Since then I’ve volunteered to teach technology seminars at the local Retirement Activity Center as well as teach at Osher Lifelong Learning for the University.
So looking back I realize that deep down I’ve always been 50, but I just hadn’t accumulated the years. Maybe it was the way I was raised. Maybe it was being an only child and the independence of youth. Maybe it was the teachings that “you can’t beat the system” which forced me to learn to optimize the system to lessen problems. Maybe it was a combination of many things. Either way, I feel pretty much the same as always. –Thinking about that feels kind of strange.
So the way I see it, I am now reaching my brain age. My years and body have caught up with my mental thinking (I use the word “mental” because I know I’m strange). Maybe in the future, I’ll eventually be older than I feel. I’ve rarely had those “I don’t feel this old” moments.
The comment I guess I’ve heard and wish to adopt is “I’ve always been 50, I’m just now growing into the suit.” [Note: I’ve never worn, nor owned a suit—hell, I hardly wear socks because of my Sanuk’s]
Sometimes I think I’m 55+. Like I belong in a 55+ community, wait, I have a home in an “age qualified” community and I get along with my peer residents. I’ve owned in the age-qualified community since I was 40, not 55+. I’ve shared this “retirement living secret” earlier.
*** Nothing in this article is to be construed as financial advice. I am not a financial planner, nor do I pretend to be. You should always consult your own professional when seeking advice.