I Didn’t Say You Shouldn’t Write About Yourself As You Get Older
Last week I wrote about feeling like I was too old to write about my life. It was kind of a toss-off post, a last minute effort to come up with something to say as my deadline neared. I didn’t expect much to come of it, but it seemed to touch a nerve, making it all the way to Medium’s Human Parts magazine as well as the regular blog.
Several people messaged me or left comments saying they were sorry to hear I wouldn’t be writing about myself anymore and hoped I would change my mind (which was very nice — thank you.) But even more people said they were dispirited by my words because, in middle age or even older, they’d found they finally had something to say.
To those points, let me say the following.
First: Don’t worry, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll stop writing about myself, if only because I’ve also declared I’m not writing opinion articles or cultural analysis and, as it stands, I’m obliged to produce a certain number of words in this space once a week.
Second: Those of you who feel compelled to write about your lives now that you’re retired or the kids are out of the house or you finally feel like you have something to say: please do! You’re the ones who should be writing about your lives!
I didn’t say no one should write about themselves as they get older. I said I shouldn’t. And, to be clear, I wasn’t suggesting this was entirely a matter of being not so young anymore. I just meant that I seem to have slipped into a phase where, for a variety of reasons, I can’t bear to share the granular details of my mostly-boring life. It’s not just that the indignities of aging, much of which have to to with bodily decay, aren’t quite as charming as the indignities of youth, which tend to be animated by a kind of endearing cluelessness. It’s that writing about your experiences requires a belief, however tenuous, that whatever you’re going through is new or somehow unique to you. Young people, by virtue of being young, experience just about everything as new. By virtue of everything being new, just about everything is also interesting. When I was in my twenties, I could find a trip to the DMV to be revelatory. Now that I’m fifty, even an…