When I was eight years old, my dad took me to work for “bring your child to work” day. I mostly played with paper clips, linking them together. But I have a distinct memory of some of my dad’s lab partners, who were about my age now I suppose, asking me what I wanted to do when I grew up, etc.
It was around the time of my birthday, so they asked me, “if you could be any age in your life, what age would you choose and why?”
I thought about it for a moment, and then I responded, “25.”
“Why 25?” they asked, intrigued.
“Because at 25, I’ll be a lawyer from Stanford and I’ll be driving a red corvette, with a hot girlfriend.”
They smiled at my precocious pragmatism. I mean, I was 8… I should’ve wanted to become a fireman or an astronaut.
Today I’m 25. I never went to Stanford. I never went to law school. I don’t own a car, let alone a red corvette, and I don’t have a hot girlfriend. My 8-year old self would be pretty disappointed with my 25-year old self.
The important lesson from this story, I think, is what my dad’s lab partners told me when I asked them what age they would choose. They all said 8. They told me to enjoy being a kid. And I’m sure if they talked to me today, they’d tell me to enjoy being 25.
So that’s my genuflection on the aging process. (Yes Rohit, I realize it’s lame to use your birthday or New Year’s for introspection. But I’m a narcissist!) The older you get, the more you recognize your unrealized goals. And the more you recognize your unrealized goals, the more you can critique them, weigh them, reassess them. At 8, I had some crazy Matlock/Don Johnson/Ferris Bueller identity aspiration. I used to draw F-14 Tomcats and tanks and pirate ships and Lamborghini Diablos. At 25, I write a crappy blog, and crappy position papers on IR theory.
At 8, I was precociously pragmatic. At 25, I’m too old to be precocious anymore. I’m just pragmatic.
But in the grand scheme of things, I’m not too wildly off base from my 8-year old trajectory. I mean, I could’ve wanted to be an astronaut. That would make today really depressing.