I was thinking recently about the fact that I'm nearly 40, which makes it pretty hard to pretend I'm not a grownup these days. (I have a bunch of thoughts about being a grownup, what it means to me, and what I don't like about it, but that'll have to wait for another entry.) And it occurred to me that in my head, I'm not 39; I think of myself as being in my late 20s, about a 10-year gap. This is just a gut feeling, with no logic or rationale behind it; it's not based on the stage I'm at in my life, or who my peer group is, or what my responsibilities are. It's just the age I think of myself as being.
And my internal mental age has lagged behind my chronological age for a long time. If I'm remembering right, when I was in my late 20s I felt more like I was in my early 20s, maybe a 5- to 7-year gap. I guess another way of putting that is that my mental age started increasing more slowly than my chronological age sometime in my early 20s, and has continued to slow down even though out here in the real world time continues on at its usual relentless pace.
I thought this might be just me, but it came up in conversation early in my Boston visit and I was surprised to discover that most (but not all) of my friends who are in their late 30s and early 40s also think of themselves as being in their late 20s, or at least as being somewhat younger than their chronological ages would indicate. A couple of them initially said things like "Well, judging by my exhaustion levels, I'm probably in my 60s" or "Since I have a house and two kids, it's pretty clear to me how old I am." But when I clarified that I was talking about gut-feeling age-identification rather than logical derivation based on observed facts, most of them said they internally thought of themselves as 5 to 10 years younger than their chronological ages.
But my sample space was small. So I'm curious: how old do you think of yourself as being, and how different is that (if at all) from what the calendar tells you?
As always, anonymous comments are fine.