Today is my 46th birthday – which in and of itself isn’t particularly interesting – but as I am now officially on the downward slide towards the big 5-0 there is a phrase that has been coming to mind a bit more often:
“You’re the ‘Golden Boy'”
Most people have probably heard some variation of this phrase but if you haven’t, it basically means that you are favored. This was something that I heard a lot during my first job when I was in my 20’s and professionally, things were looking pretty good. I could seemingly do no wrong and opportunities were getting handed to me left and right when the people around me were stuck doing less desirable tasks. I was the golden boy and for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you what I did to get myself in that position.
But then, something changed …
I got older.
No longer was I doing things at an age where people went “wow” … I was just doing my job. People expect me to do the sorts of things I’m doing now – I’m not special anymore … I’m certainly not “golden.” So what happens when you’re doing the things you’re supposed to be doing, the things people expect you to be doing and it’s perceived as “whatever?”
Luckily for me, I don’t care about being golden anymore, maybe having a family will do that to a person. My priorities have changed, I have life insurance now (nobody who’s “golden” has life insurance) and I spend time worrying that I’m not saving enough money to pay for an Ivy League college. Being “golden” when you’re in your 20’s and 30’s is awesome but I have to confess that I’m a lot happier now than when I was the golden boy.
I don’t see old when I look in the mirror, I see past the white hair and the wrinkles and I still see myself as that bad-ass little kid. I still love being an architect and I’m almost always excited to go to work. I come home and eat dinner with my family, we go on interesting vacations, I read books with my daughter every other night (I have to share with my better half) … there are all sorts of things that get awesome when you get older.
So, with that in mind, I’ve put this together just for you:
Top Ten Things that are Awesome about Getting Older
1. I don’t care what other people think of me as much
I’m not willing to change my opinion just because someone else disagrees with me. My need for the approval of others is now restricted to a very small ring of individuals.
2. People assume I know something
“Son, I’ve been doing this a long time …” [BARF] I heard this a lot in my early career. My opinion was discounted because I was young and lacked practical experience. The good news is that I actually do know more. Now when I chime in with something to say, people typically listen.
3. I only need 5 pairs of shoes
Brown and Black dress shoes, 2 pairs of sneakers (do people call them that or did I just date myself?), and a pair of flip-flops. Done.
4. I don’t live for myself anymore
My personal decision-making process follows a different path, one that considers if it’s good for my family and does it benefit my community. Life’s been good to me so far so I think giving back is an obligation. The only thing I was obligated to do when I was in my 20’s was to buy a round of beer every now and then.
5. My career is more stable
Well, at least as stable as a job in the architectural profession can be. I am a principle and an owner in the firm and I don’t think I’m going anywhere any time soon. Is this the goal of every working architect? It was for me and now I’ve done it.
6. I’ve figured out who I am and more importantly, who I’m not
I have accepted who I am and what I do and I’m under no delusions that I’m ever going to be a stand-up comedian. Understanding who you are is an important step in the personal development of an architect, maturity and self-awareness allows you to follow a consistent decision-making process and it’s at that moment when you finally start to develop some consistency in your work.
7. You pick your friends using different measures
I know lots of people and I consider most of them friends … but my “real friends” go above and beyond the call of duty. Those folks have to be willing to get me out of jail, loan me money, or “move the body.” Pretty happy to know that I have about 4 people who meet those requirements.
8. I brush my hair using my fingers
… Who am I kidding, I’ve always done that but unlike my 20’s, I don’t have any dippity-doo in the bathroom. At least now it’s not quite as weird that I have white hair … you try pulling that off in your 20’s, it’s hard.
9. I’m getting close to retirement
Okay, just kidding. Do architects ever retire?
10. I forgot what number 10 was.
So, happy birthday to me. Getting older is awesome. Yep … totally, totally awesome