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Musings: Why does life feel so long when you're young?

By Jane Hagl & Lauren AguirreMarch 15, 2017

Life perspective
Life perspective

L: A lot of people talk about how short life is. And in the grand scheme of things, it’s definitely not that long. But right now, to me, looking out at my future, it seems kind of long.

J: Life does feel long but it also doesn’t feel like I have enough time in a day to do what I need to do. But it’s a matter of perspective.

L: I think not having enough hours in the day is something a lot of people struggle with, but it’s also a product of our increasingly connected world. In one day, time can appear to be moving quickly, but when I envision the rest of my life, I feel a little intimidated by how many decades I have left — if everything goes well.

J: True. Some people find uncertainty exciting but it can be equally petrifying when you have so much future to fill with life.

 

Some people find uncertainty exciting but it can be equally petrifying when you have so much future to fill with life.

L: There are times when I'm excited about my prospects. It isn't all negative, but other times, I did there and wonder what could possibly happen between now and ten years from now. Maybe this is just a human fear. We tend to like routine and knowing what’s to come. Like you said, uncertainty is definitely a factor. There’s this real diagnosable fear of eternity. Do you think that applies here? Four or five decades certainly feels like a long time.

J: Four or five? Do you only plan on being alive until you're in your 70s? But I don’t know. I think it really depends on where you are in life. I’ve noticed with my friends who are happily married or in long term relationships they tend to be excited about the idea of “forever.”  Or people with kids who are growing up much faster than they expected, are like "what happened to the time." Once you’ve aged to the point where forever is far more measurable, I think you think more about what you’ve done with your decades and what you can do with the remainder of your life.

L: Lol. I don't have like a set age. I just can't do math. To me, those four or five decades already feel so long that I can’t really look past it. But you might have something with being settled. Maybe knowing you will always have your spouse and your children in your life lowers the amount of uncertainty you feel on a day to day basis. Right now, I'm still trying to figure out my career path and I definitely don't have anyone who is close enough to become a spouse.

 

Endless possibilities can be daunting whether you're at the grocery store or figuring out your next move in life.

J: I just wanted to be one of those really old ladies people can’t tell how old they are but also live on a diet of bourbon and cake. It’s the knowing factor. Endless possibilities can be daunting whether you're at the grocery store or figuring out your next move in life. If you already know what you doing, it's easy. But if you don't, then you feel lost. The vast amount of options doesn't really help either. That theory of paradox of choice is loosely applicable. 

L: The good thing about choices is that you can decide how you want your life to unfold. The bad thing is not really knowing what's in store for you down the road. But maybe that's also a good thing. Having opportunities and being able to change your life means you won't really live out a monotonous existence.

J: Uh, some people stop living at 25 and die at 75. Ben had that right. There’s a lot of “I don’t know” in life. You’re right, life is what you make of it— whether you carpe diem the heck out of it or complacently go with the flow.