If you look very carefully in most dictionaries, darling Listener, you shall see that the definition of ‘annoying’ is thus:
someone younger than you complaining that they are getting old
It will be interesting to see whether that has annoyed my listeners who are older than 29 or if
Oh ruddy heck, that was harsh. You could have just asked me to be quiet, Listeners-older-than-29. That would have sufficed.
It remains a fact that being 29 brings with it a plethora of factors that work together to result in us 29 year-olds feeling OLD. These factors are, in no particular order:
- Telling someone how old you are and receiving the following response accompanied by a playful shoulder nudge:
There is only one suitable reaction to this, and on behalf of all 29 year-olds the world over, I would like to apologise for it. But my God you asked for it.
- The undeniable presence of wrinkles. Not just those threadlike sweeps of character under our eyes, or the cute flicks of smile lines at the corners of our mouths, but deep, cavernous gorges. Frownlines like daggers that scream ‘I HAVE BEEN WORRYING ABOUT TURNING 29 FOR 29 YEARS'; that terrible moment we walk past a shop window, glance at our reflection and see the dark shadow of AGE sweeping from the inner corner of our eye and into our cheek like an unstoppable reminder of our impending and horrible death.
- The realisation that 29 years is a long time for our bones to be holding our body together, and, as a consequence, they don’t work quite so well.
- Being asked ‘What did you do last week?’ and, after a lengthy silence, during which we plough further depth into those frownlines, responding with ‘I have literally no idea.’
- Where once we could spend happy hours perusing photos of our Facebook chums lying unconscious in club toilets or cartwheeling naked in the mud at Glastonbury, we are now faced with a daily barrage of engagement announcements, wedding albums, baby photos, blurry black and white photographs that make us think ‘Why would someone post a picture of the inside of a plughole?’ and then realise that it is a foetus and that, at the age of 29, it is perfectly acceptable, nay, expected, to own a foetus. Or, worst still, seeing photos of your old school chums with their four children. Because, at the age of 29, we have had more than enough time to have had four children.
- Never ever ever ever being asked for ID when buying alcohol. And, on the rare, wonderful occasion we are asked for ID, it is quickly followed by ‘Actually, don’t worry about it.’ Why? Because they have spied our wrinkles, smelt the Deep Heat on our lower backs, and told our four children to get their hands out of the confectionery.
- Congratulating yourself and your fellow 29-year-old chums on arranging a night out at a club where you can dance and get stupidly drunk on cheerfully-coloured shots with an indeterminate alcohol content, and then sheepishly calling each other the day of the event and making excuses like ‘I’ve just had such a knackering week at work’ or ‘I’ve got to get up early tomorrow to help my friend move house’ or ‘I just don’t have the money at the moment, the new washing machine wiped me out’ or ‘London is such a long way on the train and it’s just so busy and crowded and the club will just be so loud and we won’t be able to talk properly’, and you all end up going to the local pub for a nice comfortable chat and a sit down.
- Sitting in said pub and observing the antics of a group of people in their early 20s whom you cannot help but label in your aged mind as youths, and becoming irritated by their noise levels, their irresponsible drinking (three shots of Sambuca each?? Who needs that?), their loud declarations of recent sexual and alcoholic conquests, and their carefree, worry-free, and wrinkle-free faces, which inspires a grumbling outburst of bitterness from your table of over-the-hill curmudgeons.
- Realising you not only understand, but agree with, the phrase, ‘With age comes wisdom.’
It is perhaps the wisdom that makes us feel the most old; realising that we are ancient enough to not only give advice to those younger than us, but to have that advice listened to and accepted, because the youths realise that we’ve had loads of time in our 29 years to make mistakes and have experiences and must thus know exactly what we are talking about.
And at the age of 29, we are faced with the most startling piece of wisdom of all:
NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING.
We have spent our lives looking up to grown-ups and thinking how wise they are and how all-knowing, and we’ve been keenly awaiting the day that the grown-up switch flicks on, when we’ll suddenly understand mortgages, or what a dividend is, or how to programme a boiler or do a cryptic crossword, and become a proper, qualified ADULT. But, our 29 years of experience of the complex and often ridiculous world of human beings have finally taught us that 99.999% of grown-up humans are simply fumbling their way through life, trying to make enormous decisions, behave responsibly and look like they know what they’re doing – when in fact they still stub their toes on bedposts, fall over whilst putting on their underwear, get nervous talking to their boss, fret over everything, and struggle with supermarket trolleys.
So, there is really only one thing for us 29 year-olds to do.
Just carry on.
Embrace our wisdom, learn how to cover up our wrinkles, accept that we can no longer sit cross-legged for an extended period of time, keep making mistakes, ignore the Facebook foetuses, persevere with the cryptic crosswords, and realise that we may just be better people than we were.
And if we’re not, then there’s still plenty of time.