“You’ll understand when you’re older”
I’m not really sure where or when I first heard this said to me but I imagine many others like me sort of lived our youth believing that to be true. I believe it was somewhere around 24 or 25 when I felt like I was somewhat settling into the kind of person I was going to be. Not to say that is likely everyone’s experience but it felt like life was beginning to stabilize around that time. Big difference was how I saw where I was and where I wanted to be. You can say that about a lot of things in our lives. “Am I where I should be in my career? With my relationships? Am I as knowledgeable and experienced as someone in their mid 20s should be?” Defining those benchmarks is hard, and more often than not, I believe we tend to get them wrong.
The other day we had to talk a family member out of making a decision based on emotion. An older relative whom id always sort of expected to do the smart thing. They are so much older and wiser right? It seems a simple concept but it hits you quite differently when they are that close. Speaking to a friend I almost instinctually said “I’m only XX years old!”, but then the number didn’t really seem that young anymore. It seems that while I wasn’t looking I had crossed that threshold of an experienced person that I has set all those years ago and didn’t even realize it. Problem was, it didn’t feel like it.
In the end we did talk, and convince, him to reconsider. In that conversation, the experience came in a way I didn’t really expect. In a funny way I can almost map out how I learned to communicate ideas as I have grown older. As a kid you just say what you want to say and hope it gets across. Getting a bit older you learn to explain things a bit, though not with much consideration to the listener. As you begin to start understanding communication on a deeper level you start to deepen your understanding and maybe even learn to begin a dialogue. This is all par for the course and even in my early to mid twenties you start to have conversations for things that you never thought would interest you. The stand out was learning to speak with an understanding of the person your talking to. Speaking in a way that you normally would not knowing the best way to navigate your idea past the persons probable preconceptions.
I finally understood that phrase “you’ll understand when you’re older”. It’s a cheap phrase but I didn’t magically understand the world and why it works the way it does. What I came to understand is how to roll with what the world gives you. You will always come across situations you’re not prepared for. But you will be more and more prepared to be unprepared. You’ll learn to take steps to minimize how bad an unexpected situation can be. You can think critically and handle things as they come. Life isn’t easy and it never will be. But it can be “easier”. Some part of me wishes I was told that instead but I also think we need the hope of a better tomorrow to keep moving forward. Children don’t have the awareness to understand past the initial statement. I would likely have just given up from the get go if all I got was “It never really stops being hard”
I sometimes wonder what I’d say to younger me. What to do or avoid. The reality is unfortunately, I never really listened to anyone. I was always in my own head and never really saw things outside of myself until much later. These days I’m really fighting the “should’ves” that really don’t do much but get in the way of things I need to do now. Life will only ever be what it is not what it could’ve been. I’ll keep working on myself, though sometimes I need to remind myself now and then. It’s easy to forget in the day to day.