I’m 39 years old and turning 40 on the 29th of September (just noting the date in case you want to send a card). Turning 40 is a milestone birthday, along with all the other birthdays ending in zero’s, however there is always a sense of foreboding as these milestones loom ahead. It’s ridiculous because I can pretty much look back at my 30th, 20th, even my 10th birthday and be overwhelmed with envy at the extremely privileged position I was in and see all the opportunities that lay ahead.

Getting older is one of those things that occurs regardless of our thoughts and feelings about it. It’s simply the price of admission for being alive. Every breath we take, every moment that passes is ultimately making us ‘age’. We’re all doing it, however people's interpretation of this (in my opinion, arbitrary) number, your age, is as varied as we are. 

Coincidentally this week ‘ageism’ has popped up in various feeds and conversations, especially in relation to the creative sector. From the outside (or the inside) it can appear that designers are divided into the ‘young’ and the ‘old’. The young are fresh, full of ideas, across the latest trends and have their finger on the pulse of cultural relevance. The old are experienced, professional and have established careers paths forged by their deep expertise. 

Both of these groups need the other to get better at their craft and remain relevant in a fast moving industry but why the divide at all and how does the date on your passport make you feel about your placement in society. 

When I examine my own career path I still consider myself a fledgling. Even though I graduated in 2004 and have been working ever since I feel like there is so much more to learn. I’m still genuinely surprised when people ask for my professional opinion. It sounds silly but without some good leadership it can be hard to make the transition from ‘young’ to ‘old’ designer. I still very much place myself in the middle somewhere. 40 is ‘old’ to a 25 year old but ‘young’ to a 60 year old and I’m fortunately enough to have friends, colleagues and acquaintances that span a good 25 years either side of 40. 

Carol Mackay from DBC suggests that the energy and enthusiasm to remain relevant is exhausting and makes sense that creative folk start to dive deeper into a particular area, developing and enhancing their unique skill set. This is how to become an expert. Perhaps narrowing one’s intake to a smaller and more concentrated area of the industry starts to emphasise that divide between ‘young’ and ‘old’.

I struggle to comprehend the relevance of my age to my current position in life. When I was 20 years old, my expectations of ‘39 year old Jess’ were far different from the reality I find myself in today. I’d also like to acknowledge that my 20 year old self measured success with a vastly different set of parameters from what I now consider important.

Young Jess was very material and would have considered owning a home, having stacks of cash in the bank and a walk in closet to house my extensive sneaker collection as successful. If I were to measure myself against that ruler today I’d be sorely dissapointed. 

Luckily, with ageing you also mature and your lived experiences help to form new and more important goals to which you measure success. What's important to me now is we have kids that like hanging out with us because we can give them the time and energy they need. That I’m able to get up at 6am and run 6km. That work for both Matt and myself is building businesses that we truly believe in. 

While getting older comes with its societal expectations I think that it’s more important to focus on what is important to you. What floats your boat or gets you up in the morning. As long as there is something that you want to be present for each and every day it doesn’t matter how old you are. The Queen recently rejected the “Oldie of the year” award stating that you are only as old as you feel and she is 95 so that’s encouraging if anything.

Video of the week
Psychedelics Are Fueling a Mental Health Revolution
Podcast of the week
We can do hard things. Natalie Portman: How to Know When to Say YES
Font of the week
Humane: Font of the week by Rajesh Rajput

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