There’s a Rolling Stones‘ song “Time is on My Side.” When I was very young, I believed that. As a matter of fact, I embraced this fallacy until about four years ago.
Truth is, time is never on your side. It is always the enemy.
On some level, I think I was caught up in the great Baby Boomer deception. We were to be the perennial teenagers.
After all, we survived the Cold War, sentence diagramming, and new math. We lived in houses painted with lead paint, gnawed on toys covered in same, and spent years in schools oozing asbestos. Many of us could vote and legally drink alcohol at age 18. Ah, yes, we Baby Boomers broke the mold. Surely, we would be the generation to shatter the stereotypes of everything – especially adulthood.
Baby Boomers would find a way to wear jeans to the office – at least once a week. And age gracefully? Heck no! We would not allow ourselves to age. We would rage, rage against our age with vitamin supplements, fillers, injections – whatever it took to keep us forever young.
People believe what they want to believe, and I easily accepted eternal youth as my birthright as a Baby Boomer. Being the youngest in the family, always the younger girlfriend, and for years, among the youngest in the office, only underscored my belief that time would always be on my side. Even when I hit the “Big Five-O,” I bought the rhetoric that 50 was the new 30. In a way, it was for me. I had a few great jobs before and after my two children were born. However, when they were seven and four years old, I was blessed to be a stay-at-home mom. I continued to write on a freelance basis, including a newspaper column, and some public relations. I volunteered at my kids’ schools. But, mainly, I enjoyed my time with my children, being a full-time mother and wife.
Fifteen years later, I re-entered the outside workforce. I had kept up with technology, and was totally tech-savvy. I had been blogging on my own website since 1998 – long before it was cool. Nevertheless, I tiptoed into the labor force, accepting a job as a proofreader for a tiny company. My intention was to get my feet wet, then move on to something bigger. After all, time was on my side. Due to the size of the company, I knew it was a dead-end job. But, I really liked my coworkers, and it was fun going to the office each day, being with friends. After 10 years of my procrastinating, the owners sold the company to a competitor who felt it was completely reasonable for me to work 60-plus hours a week, including every Saturday of my life, with no overtime pay. That lasted one year.
I went home to regroup, and try to formulate a better plan for the rest of my life. I was celebrating quitting an oppressive job, and looking forward to a new one. I was realistic enough to know the window had likely closed on any chance for a “dream job.” Nevertheless, I was hoping to finish out my work life on a good note in a part or full time position with nice people, maybe with a sense of humor, who didn’t constantly drop f-bombs in mixed company. I still felt like a viable, relevant being, with much to contribute to an organization.
Wake up call!
Earth to Baby Boomer – this just in:
Time is no longer on your side. No one cares about your experience, your knowledge, motivation, or abilities. You are now irrelevant and obsolete.
Adding insult to age discrimination, the forces of nature, the fates – whatever those powers are that determine our destiny, kicked in with an unexpected incident. Now, having lost almost a year of my life (a crucial year at my age) to some ungodly event, it is even less likely I will ever find that opportunity.
And so, another old song comes to mind. (We Boomers have a song for everything.) I never really understood Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park” when I was a kid. Now, I get it.
“Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
‘Cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again…”
Tick, tick, tick…