Everyday Epiphanies: A TED Talk Perspective on Age

Ever since I was a child, I’ve believed that inspiration is everywhere. When a new thought comes into view — if it makes you think differently about the world, or about yourself — it is magical and spiritual, regardless of what awoke it.

In this blog series, it’s my pleasure to share with you moments of inspiration from all sorts of origins: books, music, film, art… anywhere! The start of November saw a milestone event for me — my 30th birthday — and whilst I don’t feel any different than I did at 29, I can’t help but think that I should.

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I’ve often, unintentionally, surrounded myself with friends a few years younger than I am; I enrolled in university two years after most of my school peers, and I’ve just returned to further education to study a Masters; I work part-time in a pub where I’m supervised by colleagues half a decade my junior; I don’t have a mortgage, or children, or a career, or any of the other things that typically characterise an “adult”. 

I’m thirty on paper, but not really in practice. 

So what does this whole age thing really mean? Is it truly just a number? Or is that a white lie we comfort ourselves with? This month, I’ve turned to the oracle that is TED, to explore what some of the most visionary storytellers have to say about ageing.

Epiphany: “30 is not the new 20”

Believe me, I almost didn’t press play on the TED video titled ‘Why 30 is not the new 20’, for fear of having the rug pulled out from underneath me. But whilst some of Meg Jay’s observations made me feel uneasy, I can appreciate the galvanising benefit of debunking this popular adage. 

As a Clinical Psychologist, Meg works with twenty-somethings through a range of life and love complications. Her view on age is that we cannot allow ourselves to let our twenties slip by, as merely filler between adolescent and adulting.

She states that 80% of life’s most defining moments take place by age 35, and that the brain caps off its second and largest growth spurt in our twenties as it rewires itself for adulthood. She also quotes composer, conductor, pianist, educator, and humanitarian, Leonard Bernstein, to say: “to achieve great things, you need a plan and not quite enough time”. That is, if we continue to tell ourselves “30 is the new 20”, we encourage procrastination in life’s decision making. 

Jay’s talk is a call to action for twenty-somethings: “Do something that’s an investment into who you might want to be next”. Of course, life doesn’t stop when you hit your third decade, but in Jay’s view your twenties are a golden opportunity, not to be missed.

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Epiphany: “We all feel younger than our real age, because the spirit never ages”

At 71, Isabelle Allende is full of life. Her talk ‘How to live passionately – no matter your age’ gave me goosebumps.

Her inspirations are women who don’t allow age to define what they are capable of. To name one: Olga Murray moved to Nepal aged 60 and in the last 30 years has saved 12,000 girls from domestic bondage, impacting the country’s culture concurrently. 

Isabelle speaks about the things her age has afforded her: “Freedom: I don’t have to prove anything anymore. I’m not stuck to the idea of who I was, who I want to be, or what other people expect me to be…I feel lighter. I don’t carry grudges… It’s great to let go. I should have done it sooner.”

Isabelle’s intention is to stay passionate, through training and positive mindset:“How do I train? I train by saying yes to whatever comes my way: drama, comedy, tragedy, love, death, losses. Yes to life. And I train by trying to stay in love. It doesn’t always work, but you cannot blame me for trying.”

Epiphany: “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they are finished”

I. Love. This. 

I can’t tell you how much I love this.

These words are part of the closing conclusion from Dan Gilbert’s talk, ‘The Psychology of Your Future Self’, in which he explains how, as humans, we are useless at truly grasping how much we change over time; whilst it’s true development slows over the years, it never stops or lags to the pace we expect. 

“The bottom line is, time is a powerful force… The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our life is change.” Being thirty means nothing more or less than being twenty-nine, or thirty-one, and so on.

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Now in my third decade, according to these speakers, I’ve experienced my last significant brain development but I’m still changing more than I can perceive, and as long as I keep the right attitude in my spirit, I’ll continue to feel younger than I am.

Yes, it seems that age is more than a number, but it’s not that much more.

So why worry? 

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Having travelled to fifty countries across the world, Lauren is hooked on culture, environmentalism and the power of people working together. In her spare time she loves reading, cooking and crafting; she’s hoping to launch a jewellery collection soon. Find her on Instagram