thoughts on my birthday (well, about my birthday, since today isn't my birthday)
Mood: pensive
Music: Dexter Freebish - "Leaving Town"
Posted on 2005-04-18 14:11:00
Tags: essay birthday
Words: 539

"Every overhyped lj post has a beginning..."

I've been thinking about birthdays and, more generally (but not much more generally!) age lately. I skipped first grade, so I've always been young for my age, and I usually took math classes that were a few years ahead of my grade. The upshot of this is that I was usually the youngest kid in the class by far.

So I think because of that, that kinda became my identity. It didn't matter that I wasn't the top student in the class (although I sometimes was) - for a while I was a novelty because I was so young, but even after that I could always tell myself that, even though kids did better than I did, I was younger than they were, so it didn't matter. In my mind, when I would consider my ranking in the class (I was pretty competitive academically for a while in middle/high school...), I was kinda in my own category, so I always won.

Another effect was that I started to identify as the young kid. So, even when I came to Rice, I wanted people to know that I was young, because that made me special. In the past, this had provided me with other people who would sorta hang out with me a bit just because I was young. (at Rice, I had the additional "specialness" of being a professor's son) And it did sort of continue at Rice, to a point (hanging out with djedi and blamantin wasn't just because I was young, but it certainly was a not-too-infrequent topic of conversation :-) ).

So now I'm out in the real world, and all of a sudden I'm not the youngest at work. And I felt kinda weird about that, and it took me a while to figure out why, and the preceding is what I came up with.

But now things are different (not that I'm making this change now, just that it happened a year or so ago). I don't feel the need to be "special" in some obvious way. I have good friends, a good job, djedi, and I don't feel like I need a "gimmick" to have people interested in me. This is healthy and a good thing.

And so, I guess I've become a lot more relaxed about age - I know occasionally people get sensitive about getting old and whatnot, and I do have those feelings occasionally as well, but I'm usually able to shake it off pretty well. Maybe it's like my rebelling against the hypersensitivity I used to feel to my age, but I just feel like it's something that happens and there's no point worrying about it. I used to be really bad about trying to change the past (when I was in high school and I would misplace something, I would always beat myself up as I was looking for it, wishing that I had put it in its right place), and now I just try to deal with things in the present as they come up.

The End...?

(Disclaimer: nothing in here is meant to blame djedi or blamantin for my age issues - I definitely had them before coming to math camp/Rice. That is all.)


Comment from onefishclappin:

At Rice, you were the "kid", especially for me. You were pretty much the youngest person I knew - the only freshman from your year and the last person I really knew at Rice ( not withstanding because I met him later & stuff...).
But now that you are here in town & I feel like I've "really" gotten to know you, I don't think of your age. That's why I was so shocked when I realized you were still in your "early twenties". I guess I had moved you into the "working, pre-kid" group which I age at about 25-30.
So, in conclusion, you've done a decent job at shucking the "kid" image - to the point that we don't notice it anymore. But you do seem to make krikwennavd feel a little old when we sit down and calculate ages... Heck, wildrice13 watching Animaniacs as a child made me feel ancient! It was definately a late high school/college thing. Sigh. But I do feel like you guys are equals - not babies or anything like that. Now I just hope you don't view us as the old fogies.

Comment from wildrice13:

You (and and krikwennavd) are too cool to be old fogies! It's kinda funny, I always feel like gregstoll's extra year ahead of me makes him that much older, but in age he's only a month and a day older. Kinda freaky. It's also weird when I know people with kids (locally, Teresa and Doug are the culprits) that are my own age or close, cuz they seem too young to be in the parent category. Silly age.

Age-consciousness is all relative anyway. I mean, when you're a kid, 5 years is an enormous age gap. These days it's next to nothing.

Comment from wildrice13:

Oh no! Unknown LJ tag! I must've punctuated my djedi tag wrong.

Comment from onefishclappin:

You are very correct about the age gaps shrinking... Gary is 12 years older than I am (17 older than you?) & most of the time I feel like he's just about my age. Until he and his wife start talking about when they were moving cross country and what not... in 1989, and I realize that I was in junior high & they were in their mid-20's...
And yes, having a friend who is 4 years younger than me with a kid is a little crazy... esp because they didn't have him exceptionally young - they waiting until she finished college, they got married, and then decided to have kids. Not like an 18 year old getting pregnant... Sigh.
Someday I might think about the whole house, kid, marriage, grownup thing.

Comment from wildrice13:

I'm sorry, but I just had to post here. Greg linked to here and so I re-read the post... and the comments... and wanted to point out that you're currently in the middle of "the whole house, kid, marriage, grownup thing". Hee! And only a year later! Sneak up on you much? :D

But as far as I can tell, you're handling it very well. So cheers and congrats for that!

Comment from gregstoll:

Yikes...(but congrats indeed!)

Comment from onefishclappin:

You are right - reading that is kinda scary. And I guess a year ago, we were talking marriage, we knew of Matthew's existance, but didn't ever think we would have custody, and hadn't even thought about buying a house together.
I'm happy where my life is (and going), but yes, I've had a few years of change recently.

Comment from gregstoll:

Yeah, that's what usually happen - I'm the young'un at first, but then as I get to know the person, it becomes less and less of an issue.

And y'all are certainly not old fogies!

Comment from wildrice13:

Woo-hoo for letting go of things that no longer apply! When doing so is healthy, anyway. And in this case it is! So yay for that :)

Comment from blamantin:

Glad I'm not blamed for age issues. Though that still leaves plenty to be blamed for.

Comment from gregstoll:

Of course! :-P

Seriously, though, I owe a lot to you two - I made a lot of friends my freshman year that I still know today, and I certainly enjoyed hanging out with y'all. Thanks!

Comment from amorphousplasma:

I guess it's not exactly the same... but I sort of feel the way about piano... similarly, at least. Growing up, I was always the best- the best in my studio, class, school, etc. I got used to that and it basically became part of my identity. Coming to Rice, all of the sudden I wasn't- there were lots of people better than me- and it was really hard for me to adjust. I still haven't regained all my confidence and performance panache. But I AM starting to realize that it doesn't matter that much... well provided I find a job, of course...

If you and David feel like coming down (Cookie is!) you should come to my senior recital! It is this weekend, Sunday, at 12:30 in Duncan Recital Hall :)

Comment from gregstoll:

Good for you! I recently went through this at work (other people getting awards that I didn't, etc.), and I think I'm much better off for it.

I don't think we'll be able to make it, but good luck! We'll send lots of good mojo your way...

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