~ How We Think and Talk About Our Age as We Get Older


Ages 1-10

A time marked by an impatience to grow up and condescension towards anyone younger than yourself

  • “I’m 3 and 3/4!”
  • “I’m almost 8 years old!”
  • “He’s only 2!”

Ages 11-17

A time of anticipation and eagerness for the future; an era measured in benchmarks

  • “I’ll be 13 in 2 months.”
  • “One more year until I get my license!”
  • “I’m a sophomore now.”

Ages 18-24

A period when exactness matters, when one year can make all the difference in legality, independence, and responsibility, when we get a false sense of our own maturity because we have passed the milestones of youth

  • “I’m 18 years old.”
  • “I’m almost 21!”
  • “Go ahead.  Card me.”
  • “I’ll be 22 when I graduate”
  • “I’m so old.  I’m almost 25!”

Ages 25-29

A period of perfect youth; still young and vital yet more mature and less reckless; a time of shaping your adult self on your own terms

  • “I’ve still got two years left before I’m in my thirties.”
  • “I’m still young and learning, so don’t hold my mistakes against me too much.”
  • “I think I’m going to quit my job and apply to graduate school.”

Ages 29 1/2 – 34

A period of re-evaluating and realizations, when mortality turns from an abstract concept into a concrete reality and people start wholeheartedly participating in the circle of  life by getting married and having children

  • “In another 10 years, I’ll be 40. In another thirty years, I’ll be 60.  WTF?”
  • “I’ve still got it….at least for a little while longer.”
  • “Holy shit, every is starting to get married and have babies.”
  • “I’m in my early thirties.”

Ages 35-38

A changing of guard, when you realize you are following in the footsteps of every adult that came before you, no matter how unique you may be; a time when both youth and old age feel equally distant and removed from the now

  • “High school feels so far away.”
  • “It’s hard to believe I was ever as young and innocent as my son/daughter/niece/nephew.”
  • “I’m in my mid-thirties.”
  • “When did I turn into my parents?”
  • “Woo hoo! I just got carded!”

Age 39-40

A period of mild panic as we cling to our younger selves while also trying to re-invent who we are

  • “Forty is the new thirty!”
  • “If you say I’m over the hill, I’m going to punch you in the fucking face!”
  • “I’m going to learn a new language/travel abroad/get a makeover.”

Ages 41-49

A period of resignation and resolve, when we realize we cannot fight the unrelenting march of time, the plus side of which is that we become more present and grateful than ever before

  • “I’m just a tad over 40.”
  • “No more time for messing around.  I need to focus on what’s important.”
  • “I can’t believe I’m so much happier now than I was in my twenties.”
  • “I need to stop worrying about new wrinkles and enjoy what I have while it lasts.”

Ages 50-59

A time when we begin to live for ourselves more than others; a period of breaking away from our responsibilities and obligations, not out of selfishness but out of an ever increasing understanding of life’s finite nature; a time when our physical decline becomes more apparent and inevitable than ever before

  • “Did you see that John Smith died?  Just 53 years old! Can you believe that?”
  • “Only one more year until I retire!”
  • “I still feel great!”
  • “My knees ache when it rains.”

Age 60-69

A time of fear mixed with adventure as we start a new chapter, one where life is not guaranteed from one day to the next but which allows us to live on our own terms and rules

  • “I don’t care what you think. I’m going to do what I want to do.”
  • “I can’t stand another one of these winters. I’m moving.”
  • “My children can finally take care of themselves.”
  • “Did I take my blood pressure medication today?”

Age 70-80

A period when we accept our physical deterioration, acknowledging our inability to return to our former glory while working to slow the unstoppable decline; this allows us to focus less on the physical and more on the social and spiritual in our lives

  • “I walked three miles today!”
  • “I hope I never become a burden to the one’s I love.”
  • “Let me tell you a story about when….”
  • “Wednesday we have Bingo night and Thursday is bridge with the neighbors.”

 Age 80 and beyond

A period when every day is a gift, if we are healthy and loved.  A time when our weaknesses are forgiven and our endurance admired.  A time of sadness and remorse if we have had led a life unlived

  • “I’ll eat and nap when I damn well please.”
  • “I love it when my grandchildren visit and also when they leave.”
  • “When you’re my age, then you can tell me what’s what.


Moral of the Story – Every age has its benefits and drawbacks.  The important thing is to realize that the best days of our lives are the present ones.