By Skip Bandele [email protected]
Skip Bandele moved to the Algarve 10 years ago and has been with the Algarve Resident since 2003. His writing reflects views and opinions formed while living in Africa, Germany and England as well as Portugal.
I am afraid. Shivering in fact, despite the tropical heat gratefully endured throughout the past week.
‘Gratefully’, as being able to stay out until late enjoying the oncoming holiday hustle and bustle in Alvor wearing next to nothing made a pleasant change to the more usual, chilly Algarvean nights.
‘Endured’, because the prevailing oppressive African air mass did make the outdoor way of making a living somewhat torturous, and finally…
‘Shivering’ because of the thought that I will be turning 50 on my next birthday.
I recently read an article inconsiderately entitled ‘The Fifty Things That Make You A Grown-Up’. Having overcome the initial shock of the realisation that the information contained therein was now applicable to yours truly (where did the years go?), I felt much better!
I do not feel ‘adult’, a man or indeed almost half a century old, nor in my wildest dreams anything similar to those ‘ancients’ of a similar age I remember regarding with disdain when still a little boy. Here follows the proof of the pudding.
Referring back to the mentioned piece of writing which appeared in a national newspaper, I really do not qualify as an adult. By way of introduction it says you can truly claim to have grown up if your mother has started asking for your advice, something I immediately dismissed as a meaningful criteria. My Mum began seeking my opinion when I was six years old and she has not stopped doing so since.
Scanning the ‘facts’ researchers deem to be instrumental in defining ‘adulthood’, I can honestly say no, I don’t have a mortgage, I am not legally manacled to a partner, there is no will, nor do I contribute to a pension fund. Two cats apart, I am not a parent and owning a lawnmower or vacuum cleaner is an alien concept to me, listening to Radio 2 is a big no-no and I never wear a coat on a night out – I’d rather freeze to death! (no life insurance either, I hasten to add.)
It gets worse. Ironing?! Iron what? However, I am able to change a tyre and I am “sensible enough to remove my make-up before bedtime” – which is never before eleven in case you wondered. Finally, no, I definitely do not have a ‘best’ crockery set, I absolutely loathe gardening, my weekends are far too frantic to even consider ‘just pottering about’ and I never go out wearing ‘a sensible pair of shoes’.
There you have it. This so-called study carried out by Skipton (no pun intended) Building Society concludes that most people don’t feel like a proper grown-up until they are at least 26 years old and are able to say ‘yes’ to all of the above. I stopped growing up when I was 25. I still feel 25. I AM 25. I’ll leave others to worry about turning 50 – the shivers have subsided and I feel a vindicating, warm glow slowly spreading through my youthful mind and body.
Part of this refreshing outlook I am determined to clutch on to, until both my hair and teeth have deserted me in their entirety, is the strong belief in the benefits of positive thinking – my (pint) glass is never half empty!
Cynics may dismiss it as the kind of clichéd notion which tends to appear in upbeat American self-help manuals, but looking at the bright side can have real, beneficial consequences.
Psychologists are convinced that the effects of positive thinking are far more powerful than we realise – and can change our behaviour and even how things turn out. Just anticipating a specific outcome can gear your thoughts and actions towards turning that objective into a reality.
Next time you leave the house, be it for a shopping trip or a pub visit, make a conscious effort to smile and make eye contact with everyone you meet – the rewards, I guarantee, will be more than gratifying.
Another factor in what is turning out to be a ‘young and happy’ equation is letting go of the past. We all have a few regrets but dwelling on what-might-have-been makes for a miserable old age. Instead, embrace today, live for tomorrow and free yourself of the past. A related experiment carried out at the Hamburg University Medical Centre bears out this philosophy, proving that regrets naturally decrease when we get older as people try to make the most of the time they have left and have fewer opportunities for second chances – and are much happier: this in stark contrast to those in their mid-twenties and thirties who still attach great weight to recent setbacks.
As part of the research, different age groups were asked to complete a computer game in which they had to open boxes containing either money or a cartoon of the devil, the latter choice resulting in the loss of all cash accrued up to that point. Throughout my life I have nearly always opted for the ‘box’ with the devil and as a result enjoyed the good times as well as the more difficult without regretting a single moment of either. If it doesn’t kill you, it must be good for you!
By now you may have formed the opinion that maturity is not my strong suit, and rightly so. However, I am equally sure you will find that there is still a child inside all of us just dying to shed the shackles of so-called adulthood. This is because we are able to discard that often carefully built up outward persona imposed upon us by our supposed peers and surroundings over the years and take a long look in the mirror.
No, hitting the big 50 will not be a problem.