Does life really end at 35?


An opinion piece by Jacinta Tynan in the Sydney Morning Herald last week put forward the idea that if you haven't achieved your dreams by the age of 35, it's pretty much over*.

Tynan's ambition was to marry Matthew McConaughey (whose name, I have to say, is fairly unspellable. I had to cut and paste it to get it right... but that's beside the point.) She figured that it was possible; she is about the same age and she had the desire. She just had to find a way to do it.

Unfortunately for her, she and Matthew were never an item, and there came a point in life where she had to accept the inevitable; it wasn't going to happen. She writes:

Thirty-five was my age of giving up, my cut-off point for achieving all I desired. Some admirable people stretch it out to 40 and a rare few beyond that, but most of us have a self-imposed deadline on our dreams – not necessarily because they are fanciful but because they are exhausting. The rush to meet goals, fulfil expectations and give everything a shot tapers off as we age and accept our lot. It is such a relief.

This piece made me think. Do I have a cut-off point for my ambitions and dreams? I've certainly given up some things - both large and small. I'm not going to pursue my desire to become a good knitter and I have put aside many of my sewing ambitions. But that's because of injury, and because I have focused my ambition more specifically on becoming a novelist. I've had to get rid of things that take up the time I need for writing. 

The idea of having a cut-off point at which I think I should just 'give up' and become resigned to life seems sad to me. I love stories about older people who do cool things and who follow their dreams and who tick off items on their bucket lists.

It's well known that people become 'old' in body and mind when they give up learning new things and no longer have any aims. My nanna was over 75 when she got herself a laptop and got connected to the Internet. She was about 80 when she travelled to America for my brother's wedding. She was constantly learning and challenging herself and I thought she was very cool. 

My dad just retired. I know that he has dreams to go to interesting places and do interesting things. I hope he goes ahead with some of them. 

I have some aims. And to be honest, I have no cut-off point. I'm not saying, "if it hasn't happened by the time I'm 45 I'll give up." Perhaps I'll feel differently when I am 45, but for now, I'm not accepting that ambitions and dreams should be over at a certain date. My cut off date for learning and growing and following dreams is when I'm dead.

What about you? Do you have ambitions that you want to achieve? Do you have a cut-off date?

*I should be fair to Tynan and say that she does argue for 'reinvention' at the end of the article. She's not just about retiring to an armchair.