The Age of Success
This week I succumb to another year on this doomed planet and as I tumble towards the twilight of my twenties, I have started to take stock of my life so far. As stock takes go, it was fairly swift. I have racked up a list of achievements as long as Matt Cardle’s chart success and it’s all thoroughly depressing.
I have achieved none of the ambitions I had hoped to have accomplished by the time I reached 29. I haven’t done any extensive travelling, I haven’t written a successful screenplay and I haven’t purchased my own flat. The biggest success of my life to date is owning an espresso machine and that was bought for me. However as a list of failures, my life has been a stonking success. So the last few days have been a cycle of mental self-flagellation, until it occurred to me: I’m 29. I’m only 29. I have a good handful of decades ahead of me yet, so why do my self-deemed failures sting so much? Because of the media. Or more accurately, the media’s obsession with youthful prodigies.
Every day we are confronted by precocious over-achieving little shitsplats just waiting to make anyone who dares to be over the age of 21 feel utterly useless. If we haven’t won a televised talent contest, bagged a Gold medal at the Olympics or whipped our hair back and forth by the time we are 16, then our accomplishments mean nothing. For instance, Tom Daley happens to be particularly adept a flinging himself into swimming pools and miming shirtless to irksome pop hits, which is all perfectly applaudable, however because he is young (and boasts a set of supernaturally white teeth) the adulation is elevated to extraordinary levels, leaving less youthful team mates in the shallow end. Judges on shows like The X Factor continually spout lines like, “It’s amazing that you are only 14-years-old and you can sing like that!” or “To come out here at your age and sing in front of 100,000 people is so brave.” As well as redefining the meaning of bravery, it’s as if they are stating that most people only develop voice boxes when they hit their twenties and these warbling foetuses are genetic miracles.
I could save the world from an alien invasion single-handed using only a pair of scissors and a Pritt Stick (my imagination clearly only extends to objects that are sitting directly in front of me) and I guarantee it would be over-shadowed by a prancing stage school ten-year-old that tap danced whilst balancing a ball on their head during an alien invasion. Because I’m old. There are obvious exceptions to the rule: If you are fat and happen to be good at something, this is also considered a miracle. In the eyes of the media, overweight folk are often seen as society’s barnacles, clinging on to the underside of life. When someone proves to have a discernable talent, the media reacts as if it’s the biggest scientific discovery of the fucking decade. If a person is both slightly overweight and old, it blows their tiny collective minds (This is called the Susan Boyle Effect).
As you get older you can forget wide-spread recognition for your achievements, you will instead have to settle for wisdom and the limited respect that bestows. So my sage advice to anyone who is suffering through their twenties / thirties / forties etc, is to just give up. Or start eating your bodyweight in cake. Just make sure you can sing or something first, otherwise you are just a talentless person with high cholesterol.