Monday, February 22, 2016

The Prime Years

For a few years now, I've been contemplative of the term "prime years" that generally refer to the "best years" of one's life. My encounters with this term has oftentimes been in the arena of professional sports, such as sports announcers or commentators talking about an athlete's prime. Prime, in the case of professional sports, refers to the the physical prime. 

But to me "prime years" is a reference that encompasses the psychological aspect as much as the physical - in short, it represents the point at which the sense of possibility is highest, the maximum potential. You can become whatever you wish to become. This isn't to say that life thereafter will all be downhill, only that one aspect or another will be diminished. If this seems a grandiose thought, then it could be be reduced to helping to view the world and one's life in a fresh perspective.

More recently, I came across this term "prime years" in the show Master of None on Netflix. The occasion was the climax of the show's first season, where the girl angrily stormed out of the boy's apartment after having lived together for 1-2 years. She accused him of wasting her prime years which, at first sounds weird, but upon reflection is very much true. The female character was in her very late twenties and probably crossed the 30-year age mark during the time she was with him. 

Not to ignite a debate about gender inequality, I do think we can all agree that for better or for worse, men have a slightly longer horizon than women when it comes to their "prime years". For example, a woman's optimal childbearing age is believed to be from her early to late twenties while a man's may extend into the early thirties. Our social norms reflect this as it is much more common to see a older man with a younger woman than the reverse. 

So how do I relate to all this? This year I'll be turning 28 and technically can no longer refer to myself as in my mid-twenties but rather in the "late twenties". It's not a huge difference on the surface, but it does mean that I'll be edging closer and closer to 30. And the number 30 conjures up this excellent TED talk I watched a while back: Meg Jay on why 30 is not the new 20. In short, I agree as much with Meg the speaker now as I did back then...if not more so. I'm a huge proponent that every age bring about something unique and the twenties is the defining decade where many decisions and habits are made and built that will reverberate across the rest of one's life. Borrowing a few of Meg's examples, most of life's major decisions such as choosing a career, a spouse, and a home are made in the decade of the twenties. The average human life expectancy may still be rising, but that we make our major life decisions in between the 20th and 30th years of our lives does not.

And boy do I have major plans for this year. Dating woes and wife-hunting uncertainties aside, I intend to start at least one business with a deeper sense of conviction that my first attempt back in 2012. I see it as an opportunity to potentially retire at the age of 40 if the business becomes successful and I'm able to grow it properly. The other side of this coin will be what to do with regards to my current employment - I'll likely be leaving to the private sector and hopefully working with a major tech company since, well, I am admittedly a huge nerd and sucker for new gadgetry. Along with both these things will come the decision on whether I'd like to move elsewhere or stay here in the DC area. I'm forever inspired by a good friend's past decision to challenger herself by moving to DC temporarily, as otherwise life back in California would been too "comfortable" and "easy".

I'd also like to build some good habits such as getting into optimal shape and having good sleep patterns. Funny-mixed-with-alarm, I have been feeling more tired as of late - at least not recovering as quickly from exhaustion or physical strain as in the past. This also aligns with a more pronounced commitment to giving back to society, not just becoming a consumer of its infinite offerings. 

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