Why I’m Scared Of Getting Older (Even Though I’m Still In My Twenties)

Episode 274: How Focusing On Quantity Over Quality Can Help You Release Your Perfectionism Handbrake

A few weeks ago I turned 24 and I really wasn’t excited about it.

I’m getting older.

I think that, like me, a lot of people have decided on an age that they believe to be their ‘prime’, their best, their pinnacle. It could be 18, 21, 25, 30 – whatever. But whatever it is, it’s the age we idealise and glamorise. It’s the age we find ourselves wishing we still were.

For me that age is 21.

Until I turned 21 I was so excited about birthdays. The world felt full of hope and opportunity – that there was still plenty of time to fulfil my potential and achieve all of the amazing things I dreamed of achieving.

It felt like time was on my side.

And then I turned 22. I hadn’t become everything I thought I’d be. I didn’t have it all together. I wasn’t working in my dream job (or have any clue what my dream job was). And every year past my ‘prime’ feels like another year of missed opportunities and unfulfilled potential. Another year of things I didn’t do and habits I didn’t stick to.

Now I know this all sounds a bit outrageous – feeling old at 24 shouldn’t really be a thing. And I honestly feel a bit stupid for even writing about it, but I know I’m not alone.

Plus this whole thing is really kind of funny –  I was the one who decided that 21 should be my ‘prime’. But really it’s not that surprising. We are constantly told that younger is better.

Women (and men) lie about their age. It’s ‘rude’ to ask someone how old they are. There are a million and one articles (exactly) on how to look younger, feel younger, act younger, talk younger and walk younger (ok maybe not that last one). People talk about old age like it’s some kind of plague they’re desperately trying to fight off. There are aisles and aisles of products that will ‘fix’ you. And there’s botox.

Young is cool. Old is boring.

But why isn’t old better? It’s a privilege to grow old, a privilege that so many are not afforded. Getting older is inevitable and is actually the ideal – if you’re not getting older you’re dead (or you’re Dumbledore or something).

Plus it takes years of consistent and persistent effort to fulfil your potential, which means getting older in the process. That whole ‘overnight success’ thing that the media loves to talk about really isn’t an actual thing.

I think I focus so much energy on wishing I was younger because I’m chasing the feeling that time is on my side. But really, it still is. And it still is for you too.

No matter what your age – you haven’t peaked. You’re not over the hill. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life reminiscing about life at 18, 21, 25, 30 – whatever. 

It’s scary to feel that sense of urgency that comes with realising that our time is not limitless, but it’s also a great motivator. So don’t making waiting a habit.

Live where you are.

What do you think?

Do you ever feel like you’re too old (even though you’re still young!)? Have you had some sort of quarter-life crisis?

Don’t forget that comments are always welcome and appreciated – I’d LOVE to hear what you think!

Sam xx

P.S. If you’re a procrastinator and you struggle to stay motivated, keep reading to learn about my FREE Perfectionist Power-Ups. They’re motivational boosts sent straight to your inbox and you won’t find them anywhere else:

A motivational power-up ✨

If you came here for inspiration, you’ve found this blog post at the best possible time! I just want to quickly share something that’s going to give you the motivational power-up you deserve.

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what else I can do to help get out of your own way in your business.

In addition to leading my group coaching program for perfectionists, Perfectionists Getting Shit Done, I publish a new episode each week on my podcast The Perfectionism Project and have recently started posting regularly on instagram again (I’m now @perfectionismproject). 

But I’ve felt like there’s still more I could do to help you…

I’ve always found it easiest to get out of my own way when I read or listen to something every day that gives me a boost of motivation.

Over the years I’ve gotten these motivational boosts from business and self-help podcasts, Youtube videos, inspiring quotes etc. And I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have those things there to cheer me on.

But sometimes, these things can lead us down a bit of a rabbit hole when all we need is a small piece of motivation to help us kick start our day – without all the distractions…

That’s why I’ve decided to start sending a short “Perfectionist Power-Up ✨” straight to your inbox every weekday.

These are little boosts of motivation, designed for perfectionists who are building businesses, that you’ll receive from me from Monday to Friday each week.

And they won’t be the same as my Instagram posts…

I’ll be emailing you short motivational notes and reminders that you won’t be able to find anywhere else

To receive your daily Perfectionist Power-Up, click here!

Author: Sam Brown

  • Is it weird that I understand this? I think 18 was probably in my head as the prime age, because when I turned 20 last year I was suddenly like ‘Oh God…It’s only 10 years until I’m 30, and only 7 or 8 until I planned to have my first child. THAT IS NOT ENOUGH TIME TO DO EVERYTHING I WANTED TO!’

    I think some of that pressure is to do with the fact that there is an ideal age to have children (if you plan on having them), and for me at least, that age is somewhere between 27 and 30.

    Getting older is scary, and comparing your successes to other people based on age and achievement is difficult not to do..x


    • Hey Anna,

      Thanks so much for your comment!

      I’m pretty sure I had exactly the same freak-out when I turned 20 (it just re-adjusted to 21 as I got older). And such a good point about having kids, I think that definitely plays into the pressure we put on ourselves to get things done when we’re young!

      Sam xx

  • I just turned 24 a few weeks ago as well and I definitely had some sort of life crisis 2 years ago when I bought myself a muscle car (typical). But it really hit me when I turned 24 and realized that I always assumed I would have a ring and a baby by now, but for some reason I don’t have either. And my boyfriend and I plan to wait a few years before any “next step”, even. It seems crazy to feel old at this age, but it’s difficult not to think about all the things I SHOULD be doing and should have accomplished by now… I’m glad there are other people, all over the world, that feel this exact same way 🙂

    • Hi Katherine,

      I definitely agree – it is so difficult not to think about the things we ‘should’ have accomplished by now! I definitely feel like I had plans for what I should achieve by a certain age and having achieved pretty much none of it makes me feel like a failure (even though I know there’s still plenty of time to do it!)

      I’m glad to know others feel the same way too 🙂

      Sam xx

  • Sam, having recently turned 26, I understand this fear completely! I think I always assume that I have all the time in the world to do x,y, or z. Or that I am still “young” (which I am..). But with every passing birthday, I have to adjust to the reality that I am flying through my 20s, and will soon be in my 30s, then 40s…and so on.

    • Hi Jillian,

      Thanks for your comment! Time definitely goes so quickly, especially as we get older, and it feels so scary to know that we don’t have forever to do what we want to do!

      Sam xx

    • Hi Jasmin,

      Thanks for sharing!! I think a lot of us don’t really know why we feel scared of about growing up but almost all of us feel it!

      Sam xx

  • I heard some teenage girls talking behind me the other day about how they thought 17 was when you became a ‘mature’ age. I wanted to turn around and say I still don’t feel mature at 23 haha. It’s funny how our concept of age changes as we grow older. But yes, I definitely feel old yet somehow not mature at all.


    • Hi Catherine,

      I can so relate to this, and I can so relate to feeling like those teenage girls saying that. I remember when I was in grade 2 (7 years old) and I saw the new grade 1 class and I felt old and ‘mature’ which is actually just hilarious. But I guess it’s all relative!

      Sam xx

  • This was such a good post. I was just talking to someone the other day. I’m in my late twenties (28) and I know how you feel. When I turned 25 I felt so ‘old’ and didn’t want to face that I was 25, that quarter century crisis kind of kicked in hard. Now, that I’m in my late twenties I have realized getting old is going to happen and I have to embrace it. I’m actually looking forward to turning 30 and starting a new phase of my life. 🙂

  • I completely agree! I am about to turn 25 and then its really gonna hit me and make me feel old.

  • I’m 26, turning 27 in September – I agree from age 21 I felt Grown Up. The thing is though that everyone is different. I was a widower at 18. I had to grow up quickly. It sucked sure, but it shaped me to be who I am now. 🙂
    No regrets.
    I write about my journey too: http://lisaslifefromwellington.blogspot.co.nz/

  • Hi Sam. This is obviously a topic that a lot of your readers can relate to – hence the comments (and hence the reason we are all reading your blog to begin with, probably). I am turning 28 in a few weeks and will officially be in my ‘late’ twenties – I almost feel too old to be reading your blog that is all about making the most of your twenties (isn’t that ridiculous?!). I feel like my quarter life crisis, albeit a bit late, is coming on, having spent the last 10 years working towards something that I’m not even sure that I want anymore. I think that the existence of the internet has a lot to do with it – there seem to be so many more possibilities for life, and so many more people to compare yourself to!!

    • Hi Katrina,

      Thanks so much for sharing! (And you’re definitely not too old to be reading this blog!!) and I definitely agree about the Internet, we’re so aware of what everyone else is doing and therefore what we aren’t!

      I just finished listening to the audio version of Yes Please by Amy Poehler (amazing!) and in it she was talking about ‘surfing your life’ instead of trying to make set plans and feeling disappointed when they don’t happen. I imagine it’s extremely difficult to face that the thing you’ve been working towards isn’t really the thing you wanted, but it’s impossible to make good decisions without trying something and seeing if we like it or not. You made the best decision you could with the knowledge you had at the time.

      Happy birthday for a few weeks time 🙂

      Sam xx

    • Hi Katrina,

      You are definitely not too old to be reading this blog! The internet does make it super easy for us to compare ourselves to others (and to the filtered version of their life) and it’s definitely something I really struggle with! And it can be so hard to realise that something you’ve been working towards for years isn’t actually what you want! All the best 🙂

      Sam xx

  • Ugh I hate to think about this sort of thing :/ I’m nearly 18 and I swear I am already going through my quarter life crisis! I guess we’ve all just got to accept that growing up happens and to just ‘live in the moment’ you know? 🙂 x


  • I’m 21 and I already understand what you’re saying. Not that I feel old but I know I’m getting older, if that makes sense. For me, the “ideal age” would be 19. No particular reason but I liked being 19. And maybe because until then I was always super excited to celebrate one more birthday “Can’t wait to be 20/21!!” Yeah right… And I think this is because of how I thought I would have everything figured out by now and the expectations I had created for the next years are no close to be accomplished. That’s a bit scary. But I guess we need to embrace our age because we’re not defined by it. Like you said, it takes years to fulfill our potential 🙂 x

    • Hi Joana,

      Thanks so much for sharing! I think I felt the same thing about 19 when I was 21 and then as I got older 21 became the new 19. It’s insane that we think we need to have it all figured out by now, and yet we all think it! Still wrapping my head around being ok with not having it all sorted!

      Sam xx

  • I just finished reading The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson. And one of my favorite chapters in the book was about people who found what they loved to do and did it in the later stages of their lives. I am 24 and have felt for a long time that I’ll reach my peak at the ripe old age of 30, yet I have often felt that I’m too old to pursue some of my interests. For example, I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano, but at the young age of 17 decided it was already too late for me. Had I not given up at 17, I imagine by now I’d be playing quite well! Now I try to imagine how I’d like to be living my life in the future and use that as a basis for setting goals and accomplishing them. Sam, thanks for another insightful post!

    • Hi Violet,

      That book sounds amazing, thanks so much for sharing! It’s kind of crazy how at the age of 17 we can think it’s ‘too late’ to start something and that we can think the same thing of the age we are now!

      Sam xx

  • Hey there Sam, very nice post and very interesting to hear your perspective. It makes me smile, because you are so, so young 🙂 You have so much ahead of you and your path will be ever changing (we can’t predict much in this life). Something that got in the way of a lot of my dreams was fear. Fear that I was too old to move, to date someone younger, to apply for a job, etc. Don’t ever let age get in your way, and don’t buy into society’s pressure. Stay confident and brave and do your very best. I wrote an article about the pressure of turning 30, thought you might enjoy: http://bit.ly/1Op4fLL

    Hope you had a great holiday weekend.

  • Hi Sam. It is the first time i see your blog and the first post that caught my eye was this one. I can say that i totally relate to this crisis as it is LITERALLY what I’ve been having for 3 years now. My “ideal age” was 16 and i was such a dreamer that i had millions of big dreams that i had been waiting for to come true till that age. Then i turned 16..17 .. 18 and nothing happened. I literally feel like the most miserable person on earth. I sometimes even say I’m 18 although i turned 19 the last month. I just don’t feel like 19 at all. This is so pathetic and pessimistic. And then i think i shouldn’t be acting like this because i am a very faithful person and i feel like i am revolting against God while having such pessimistic outlook on things. We definitely should live the moment. But how? Live’s too hard. Thanks for sharing this and letting us relate & we can know we’re not alone. Love from Istanbul – Turkey! I’ll be keeping up with you!

  • I’ve definitely been going through the quarter-life crisis. Personally, for my personality, I’m actually growing into it as I’ve always been a little bit more mature for my age and have looked forward to when you’re at an age when it’s more ‘acceptable’ to not go out and get wasted every weekend.
    However, when it comes to achieving life/career goals, I truly panic and feel like I’m running out of time to achieve this things until you’re ‘too late’. It’s ridiculous as there are parts of my life that is more together than friends and visa versa – everyone is different!

  • For me it’s been lifespan, turning 27 soon everything became very real, and while no one is guaranteed anything let alone more time there is less and less separating me from 40, 50, 60, 80. If science can ever find a way around that I’ll welcome the additional years. Each one has made me considerably better than I was before!

  • Girl I totally agree! I just turned 27 and I didnt want to celebrate! I like being in my twenties! This didn’t really start for me until 26 though

  • Old timer checking in here…47 years old with a 62 year old partner so I know a few things (and don’t know a lot of other things). I stumbled across your blog and this is a fascinating subject. One of my favorite authors, Milan Kundera once wrote that youth is a time to try on different disguises and see which one truly fits…with that in mind, here’s a bit a wisdom to all you wonderful folks…take it for what it’s worth. First, age is not a continuous journey from youth to middle to old age…there will be times in your life when you feel old and tired (even though you are young) and there will be other times that you feel younger than ever (even though you have never been so old) it is all where you are in your journey and how you feel about yourself. Second, you will find that, as you get older, there are far fewer people caring about whether you “succeed”/what you do with your time/how you live your life…consider the fact that most people grow up being the focus of their parents/teachers/friends attention and as they get older stop being the focus of anybody but themselves and, perhaps, their partner. At first this might be a shock, but, once you get used to it you realize it brings great freedom. Unlike when you were growing up and you had to impress everybody with grades and awards and blah blah blah there is nobody left to impress. The only person you need to impress is you. Learn who you really are and be that person…be all of that person and be the best version of that person. Enjoy being that person and, while you should listen to others (since they may have some great advice), in the end, only your heart knows what’s best for you. Third, becoming old and boring as you age is completely your decision. I know a lot of people who have grown old and boring. Generally the boring ones are the ones who stop growing and learning and instead spend their time reminiscing about their youth and the way they used to be. That get’s old really quickly. Forget the past and forget the future. Now is the only moment which exists. In every moment you are exactly as you should be so be who you are. When you’re young it’s easy to find people who are excited about life. As you get older, those people become fewer and fewer, but they are still out there. Seek them out. Find the people who continue to grow and learn and stay youthful and discard those people who only want to stagnate as they age. Better yet, be an example to others!!! The bottom line…the choice to stay vibrant and happy at any age is up to you. Make it your business/intention to know who you are and the ways in which you can be that person and then go out and do it. Do it now…do it when you’re 30…when you’re 40…when you’re 50…etc. etc. you get the idea. Good luck to all of you!!! Life is beautiful!!

  • Preach!! I am 23 and have an actual fear of getting older. 21 was definitely what I thought to be my prime. I know I’m still in my prime years, for me anyways, but the very thought of turning even 25 terrifies the shit outta me! Old is just not cool haha no matter how you spin it. You can’t do certain things when you’re old(er) without people judging you or having it seem offputting. I literally googled having a fear of getting older even though I’m in my twenties and found this. Glad I’m not the only one. There is truly strength in numbers.

  • I definitely feel this way, just this weird sense of looming obsolescence. Especially as a woman, theres this idea simmering under the skin of society that you’re less valuable with every passing year, and at 28 I’m starting to get depressed. Everything I thought I’d do and be growing up is no longer looking like a possibility, and what’s really bothering me is I seem to care less and less about the only things I have ever defined myself by. So now I have nothing and seem to be no one, and not unique in any way. I’m losing any sense of self and losing time and leeway every day, and on top of that I worry about the fact that I’m wasting these final years being anxious about the future. so I’m worried about worrying. I seem to be obsessed with death and abandonment, an obsessive existential horror that I either think about or put very real effort into distracting myself from. 100% of the time. It’s driving me mad.

Comments are closed.