Question for ye.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has a question for you all.

At what age (approximately) does one stop “growing up” and start “growing old?”

Your Maximum Leader figures 30-35 is likely the time frame. But he isn’t sure.

Carry on.

Robbo said:

I can’t tell you the exact line of latitude, but I’m pretty sure I’ve sailed right over it.

Fear and Loathing in Georgetown said:

It obviously depends on the individual, but I would say 30.

Kevin Kim said:


I’m not planning on having a midlife crisis until I’m 45, so I guess the question can be tabled for a few years.

I suppose, though, that the concept of “growing up” is closely tied to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” In my case, the answer seems to be “teacher.” When I ask myself whether this is, in fact, what I had planned for my life, well… that gets complicated.

On the one hand, when I was an undergrad, I did want to be a teacher, and worked toward that goal. I had been inspired by films like “Stand and Deliver” (1988), and was sure I could be a kick-ass high school French teacher. Two years of high school teaching (1992-94) left me wiser: high schoolers and I don’t mix, at least not in a class context, and not when teaching a mandatory subject (French isn’t specifically mandatory at any school, but students have to take some sort of foreign language).

On the other hand, when I went to Korea and began teaching English (conversation, reading, grammar, standardized test prep) to paying, motivated adults and college students, I realized that I still enjoyed teaching. So in a sense, I’m where I belong, which means that when I turn 45, I’ll have less of a midlife crisis than some will, because I’m happy doing what I do.

Besides, they say that hanging around younger folks keeps you young. Teaching and parenting are alike in some respects, but based on how perpetually tired my friends are, I suspect that parenting ages you while teaching– if you’re where you belong– rejuvenates you.

I have no idea whether any of this is relevant to your question, Mike, but I thought I sensed a sentimental subtext.


Charles said:

Do the two periods need to abut each other? That is, do we have to move directly from one to the other? I suppose I’ve finished growing up, but I don’t know if I’m quite ready to start growing old…

Thanks gentlemen for the thoughts. To address Charles’ point, I believe that these phases probably do abut one another. But to address Kevin’s point (perhaps obtusely) the concept of growing up is important. This question came to me as a result of the conversation that I was having with Villainette #1. At one point I advised her that she had a lot to learn as she was still “growing up.” Then I cracked a joke that at my age you aren’t growing up any more but are just “growing old.”

I suppose my concept of growing up is more a period of gathering life experiences that form a person. Is there a point at which one starts to rely more on past performance as a guide to future activity than “winging it” and hoping for the best?

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