Internally, how old are you?

February 24, 2008 at 05:29 AM · The other day my oldest announced, "I'm going to be thirty this year, but I only feel like I'm nineteen." That and the recent thread on adult beginners has brought back to mind something I've noticed off and on over the years - the, often great, variation between a person's chronological age, and how they answer the question 'How old do you see yourself?' When I ask myself this question the answer is, about 18 to 20. My wife says the same about herself. I first asked my mother this question a couple of decades ago, and at that time her answer was 18. Now, in her eighties she says, "I'm more tired than I used to be, but I guess maybe 20."

It isn't only family members who answer similarly. Because I find this an interesting topic, I've asked a lot of people this question over the years, and I seem to get the same answer from nearly everyone who is above the age of around 30. The only common factor seems to be that all are active at least one thing beyond work, and most have a great many interests. Not everyone tells me they feel younger than their last birthday, of course. But those who say they feel at least as old as their last birthday, if not older, seem to have few interests beyond their primary occupation.

So, how old do you the adult beginners out there see yourselves? Is maybe a small part of the reason we're willing to take up the unusual task of learning the violin, something most of 'the outside world' apparently see as something for children to do and think we ought to be 'acting our age,' is because internally we don't see ourselves as old?

Replies (27)

February 24, 2008 at 05:58 AM · About 25. Old enough to boss the teenagers around, but not old enough for them to consider me old. I'm not an adult beginner, but I almost bought a plastic Yamaha recorder I saw to mess with because I don't play anything that you have to blow in and finger. Then I thought jeez why do I want to do that? Still always have an eye peeled for a penny whistle though.

February 24, 2008 at 07:20 AM · Interesting question! It depends:

Physically, it varies greatly depending on how much expectation I have of myself and how well I can meet or exceed it.

Emotionally, I often feel that I’m in my early 20.

When I play the violin, I’m happily feeling older than 30, as it somehow related to the maturity of my musical understanding now comparing to my younger time.

When I was in university, I felt as young as my average classmates were.

Now I’m working on my current job in law and policy, I sometimes feel like 50, 60 or older and that’s actually a good feeling, but sometimes I feel like in my 18 or 20 and that’s pretty awful.

When I was visiting some old and frail folks back in China a couple of weeks ago, I felt almost as old as they were.

When I’m doing philosophy, I feel like 5!

February 24, 2008 at 06:46 AM · Internally and externally, I'm 40. Wouldn't want it any other way!

February 24, 2008 at 06:53 AM · I feel like I'm around 30.

When I was younger than 30 I felt like I was easily swayed by my surroundings. I behaved differently around different people and my definition of my "self" varied according to my mood and how my day was going. Around 30 I solidified into an adult. The psychological clay hardened. From that point I felt much more relaxed.

I still have that "solid" feel of being an adult, but don't feel like my options are limited by my biological age.

So I'd say... 30.

February 24, 2008 at 06:58 AM · I have been 25 or 26 for almost 20 years :-)

February 24, 2008 at 08:06 AM · I'm with Laurie on this one. I'm 30, I feel thirty because I am 30. I don't want to feel younger or older.

February 24, 2008 at 09:21 AM · For a long time I would catch myself saying I was 37 - I forgot about a whole bunch of years there. It wasn't that I wanted to be 37 at all, and I can't remember anything particualrly different about that year to any before or after it. Now I feel about 42, so I've caught up 5 years, but I'm still 5 years behind reality.

All of my colleagues are celebrating their 50th's over this next few months. None of us can believe it, because when we were 20 that seemed so far away.

February 24, 2008 at 10:02 AM · The responsible grumpy side of me is every bit of thirty. Everything else is a child still. That effortless child age of eleven or so, before everything got so complicated.

But my soul is actually timeless.

February 24, 2008 at 11:39 AM · Marty, don't worry, that desire will change eventually, trust me :-)

February 24, 2008 at 12:08 PM · What was it that Indiana Jones said? It's not the years. It's the mileage.

Sometimes I feel older than I am. Often younger. That path in the wood winds on ahead of me.

February 24, 2008 at 01:39 PM · Chronologically - 66

Mentally - 66 (a healthy 66)

Physically - 166

Emotionally - 12

:) Sandy

February 24, 2008 at 03:57 PM · I'm 62. When I look back, I feel like I'm about 120. When I look ahead, I feel like 19, except I'm a lot happier than I was then. I've done a lot and endured a lot, but the world is still fresh and new to me.

February 24, 2008 at 04:24 PM · Mid 50's chronologically, hearing is approaching the mid 60's, vision is in the mid 70s (soon to improve thanks to lens implants), violinistically about 16 (actually about 6 on the Heifetz scale), wisdom (self-image about 70, son's image about 22).

February 24, 2008 at 04:41 PM · Very interesting question. For many years, I felt about 19. But now that my *daughter* is 19, I guess I've grown up. I didn't feel it happening, but now I'd say I feel about where I am, which is 43. I don't think I *look* 43 (if you think I do, please feel free not to tell me) so that makes the admission easier. ;-) Plus, I always forget how old I am during the year and start to add another year, so when I realize I'm younger than I thought, I feel good! I should start saying I'm 44 in a month or so...even though I don't turn till July.

Musically, I'd say I'm either about 15 or about 80...depending on the piece. Some I have a good "emotional grasp" on, and others I feel like I'm not even ready to go on a first date. But that's another thread...

February 24, 2008 at 05:40 PM · I don't think of my age specifically when I think of "me". And my children are only 4 1/2 and 6, so I don't get to retire just yet. But my knees crunch, I have reflux, and my hair looks just a little more gray each day. Ask me again on Thursday when I will be 44.

February 24, 2008 at 07:00 PM · Happy birthday, Patricia!

February 25, 2008 at 12:10 AM · Depends on the time of day, day of the week, the weather, and what "has" to get done. Since I went silver by mid-40's, I've looked my current age of 57 for a really long time. Good way to keep people guessing. Sue

February 25, 2008 at 12:18 AM · An eccentric and energetic 60 year old who keeps getting younger and younger everyday. (I am 19)

February 25, 2008 at 01:47 AM · As a kid, I always felt and acted older than my age. After I left home, I felt each new year as it came with clarity and joy, but when my father became ill and suffered so with diabetes and heart disease, I felt abruptly much older. I helped mom with his care. He died after a seven year struggle, living his last month on a ventilator in ICU. Then mom began to decline. Her stroke affected her body and mind. I cared for her in my home for five years. It was exausting. She passed last August. Now I am alone. One distant brother is all that is left of our once active, thriving family. Now, as I look at my self, I look every one of my sixty one years, but, except when my bones creak as I rise in the morning, I'm feeling younger than I have any right to feel. I will retire in September, sell, give away (or burn) most everything I've spent all these years collecting, take the fiddle, the cats and damn little else and fly away home to California. I'll be living on a boat in the delta, taking some classes, doing some volunteer work and spending a lot of time on the water. Just the thought makes me feel light and unfettered as air, giddy as a kid. I plan to get younger till I die.

February 25, 2008 at 05:29 AM · 29 (been 29 for 8 years). It was a good year.

February 25, 2008 at 01:23 PM · My father-in-law has said for as long as I've known him that he plans on dying young - at a very advanced age. He's now 86 and not slowing down.

February 25, 2008 at 08:44 PM · lol, interesting question. I'm 39, externally, my body feels 139 after getting off a long hard day at work at an extremely physical job. (10 and 12 hour shifts) Inside? i feel like i'm in my 20's. Life couldn't be better, each day is a gift.

February 26, 2008 at 04:05 AM · I think there is a psychological phenomenon at play! When we finish our teens people tend to ''crystallize'' their personality. This means that the majority of your personality trait will be formed then. So in a manner most of everyone personality is formed around the age of 18.

February 26, 2008 at 01:36 PM · Claude,

Makes sense. I've heard it said that grumpy old men started out as grumpy young men.

February 26, 2008 at 01:42 PM · Internally, how old are you?

--that will have to depend on the result of the angiogram.

February 26, 2008 at 05:14 PM · My driver's license says I'm 46....

My knees say I'm 146........

I watch cartoons religously on Sat. morning....does that mean I'm 6??...

February 26, 2008 at 08:20 PM · I've felt about the same since I was 6 or 7 (the age from which I have sustained memories that I consider somewhat reliable): emotionally kind of immature and naive, intellectually advanced. I was ahead in school and always the youngest in my class and even now, at 42, I sometimes have to remind myself that I'm not the youngest person in the room anymore. I got asked for ID when buying alcohol well into my 30's . . . in fact, I was asked only a couple of years ago when I was 39.

Overall I really hated being a teenager, because I felt very out of step with that age group: both too young (emotionally) and too old (intellectually) at the same time. And I never had that boundless energy that young adults are purported to have: never could pull all-nighters, never could go without sleep, never was much good at sports, never wanted to party all night or dance the night away. I have the same (relatively low, but non-zero) energy level in my 40's that I've always had. So I have no desire whatsoever to be (or feel) 18 again.

As a violinist I can't really give myself an age, because I feel mostly the way I did when I was a kid, except that I'm more conscious and analytical now, more able to sustain the concentration necessary to practice for more than a half hour at a stretch, and less self-conscious and nervous when I perform. So I feel like the adult me has all the advantages and none of the disadvantages that the kid me had. Sure, I've forgotten some of the things I used to know, due to lack of practice, but as I work at them, they come back.

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