I have a few rules for life, which I try to stick to but don’t always succeed, and one of them is to not give into the temptation to try an impress anyone under the age of twenty-five with tales of my own awesomeness at their age.
Firstly, they won’t really believe you. You’re old. You were born old. Even if, by some miracle, you really were their age at some point in history, it’s a given that you were just a younger version of exactly the same person you are presently living the exact same life you do now. Personal development is just theory to a seventeen year old. They haven’t lived long enough to know what it means to have crammed one or two more of their lifetimes into your lifetime. They’re as clueless about the difference a few decades can make as I would be before the millennia lived by Methuselah.
Secondly, the very young are not really interested in the past exploits of we oldies. At all. In a few years, maybe, but not yet. Note, as I’ve done on many occasions, how the eyes of the young glaze over as you go on and on about the amazing adventures you got up to whilst island hopping across the Mediterranean with just a sleeping bag and a toothbrush, as you brag of partying for weeks on end and boast about all the lovelorn fools you spurned, as you fondly grumble about the long nights you spent in a lab finding a cure for cancer, and laugh at your own recollections of training for years and then coming last in Tour de France. The young are consumed with their own awesomeness and how that awesomeness ranks compared with the awesomeness of their friends, and are convinced that they have an awesome future ahead of them. This awesome future is a given. It has to be, otherwise life looks way too scary from where the young stand. You might have stuffed up - because obviously you have, just look at your life - but they definitely won’t. If they’re lucky, they don’t know about life’s sneaky derailing tricks yet or that heartbreaking things can happen that require years of recovery and that random chance often brutally knocks you over. Because. They. Are. In. Control. And they are awesome. Unlike old people, who are unawesome.Thirdly, a young person’s definition of what makes for an awesome life is often very limited. The younger and more self-absorbed they are, the more convinced they are that they’re the only ones in the universe possessing knowledge of the One True Path to Eternal Awesomeness. Don’t even try to tell them that you too were once likewise enlightened, but then you grew up and discovered there were many other paths in the forest that were also interesting. You are lost. They are not.
Anyway, I made this rule after watching far too many of my contemporaries bust a gut because they suddenly became worried that young folk didn’t find them cool enough. I know it’s a stage of life crisis, but it can get awfully unseemly. The insecure oldies desperately want the kids to know that they were also once slim and beautiful and active and brilliant and admired, and that they too did amazing, crazy, naughty things until the crack of dawn, but all they do is bore the socks of the young ones. It’s a hopeless cause. The young and the old cannot compare themselves with each other at any given point in time. The only fair way to compete, if you must do so, would be to compare the achievements of each person at the same age, which, without a TARDIS, is practically impossible. So it’s up to we older people to show some sage-like dignity, maintain our air of mystery, and allow the arrogant young to be up themselves. We once were conceited little know-it-alls – it’s their turn now. They’ll get old soon enough. Then it’ll be their turn to try and convince the upcoming generations that they used to be soooo awesome, although by then, there’ll undoubtedly be another exceedingly irritating word to denote the coolness that goes beyond cool but which usually only applies to the young.
It's how the wheel turns.
By the way, have I told you about the time there were a thousand people crammed into in a great sporting venue, all of them shouting my name while I… J