It seems ironic that we make so many crucial life decisions while still in our 20s: Initial career choice. Marriage. The birth of children (not always a choice, I know). Home purchases and other investments. The human’s neocortex (or “thinking”) portion of the brain that controls behavior and judgment is not even fully formed until the age of 25—and, apparently, later for some folks—and yet these key choices seem to necessitate the emotional intelligence of your typical 35- or 40-year old. (Typical is the operative word here.)
This observation has led to my tentative conclusion that no one should get married, have kids or go to graduate school until after the age of 30.
Why tentative? Biology and pragmatism are working against me here. A woman’s “clock” is ticking long before 30. Pro athletes, who routinely squander millions in salary and bonuses during their 20s, are in prime physical shape during this same time period. Certain careers such as medicine and law require longevity for maximum effectiveness and involve a significant educational investment not likely made by a person beyond their 30s or 40s.
So, the paradoxes of life continue to enfold us, the irony of the pluses and deltas of key choices. The imperfection found by spiritual beings having human experiences; they are quite ubiquitous.
What then is a person to do, when confronted with challenges or disappointments arising out of choices made long ago? Just suck it up and live with them?
Sometimes, yes. However, if one keeps Maslow’s Hierarchy in mind, it seems one lets themselves down if they have the opportunity for self-actualization and “peak” experiences but pass them up out of fear, security needs or the pressure of others. If you see far more clearly in your 40s than you did in your 20s and better, more life-enriching choices are set before you, give the pluses and deltas serious consideration rather than shrink from change.
The shrinking results in stagnation, which produces restlessness, bitterness and a withering effectiveness in multiple dimensions. It is better to embrace authenticity and endure the consequences, compared to yielding to gradual intellectual, emotional and spiritual decay along with the body’s natural physical deterioration. The consequences for the latter appear to be far more damaging and tragic.