Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Query: How do you know when you're middle-aged?

At a recent dinner with friends in their late 30s & early 40s, I asked (in pretty serious fashion) if we are middle aged. The responses took two forms: a) not taking the question very seriously or b) working very hard to dispel the notion that we've achieved this dubious milestone. I've contemplated the question lately because - among other things - my youngest child is about to be a school-aged child and my parents are about to retire. I don't know how one knows that one is middle-aged. I haven't found (or, in truth, formally sought) a definition. There's strong evidence for the proposition, though:
  • If you doubled my current age, you'd get 75. A little young to shuffle off but not shocking.
  • I have age spots.
  • Music & apparel from my teen years is back in the popular culture.
  • Yes, I'm rather bald, but that process started when I was 23, so it's not a strong indicator one way or the other.
  • I've reached that age at which I don't undertake exercise without the proper apparel for the given activity.
I think I'm middle-aged, but contemplating the subject has made clear that the question of whether one has achieved this phase of life is difficult to answer definitively. It's easy to know when you're a teenager. Thanks to a 90s drama, we now know it's a thing to be a thirtysomething and by extension a twentysomething. Obviously, it's easy to know when you're in those brackets. Not so, middle-age. Are you middle-aged? How do you know?


Azure said...

By the time we hit forty, I think we are undoubtedly middle aged. There's no way around it.

Honestly, I can't think of any good arguments to say that we *aren't* middle aged right now, can you? Maybe if we had never been married or never had kids (which doesn't apply to either of us).

JFo said...

This is an interesting line of reasoning. Single, childless people the same age as us are somehow younger than us? If true, that's a serious gyp.

Azure said...

"Middle-aged" is primarily a social construct rather than a scientific term (or we wouldn't be debating it in the first place). Hence we have to look to social cues.