second-time tweens

With my job I interact with people several decades older than me, and recently I have had some more intensive interactions with tweens. Not tweens as in pre-teens, but tweens as in between middle-aged and old.

Since my mother and friends are all middle-aged, and they are basically as old as it gets for the people I socialize with, being around second-time tweens has been a new experience for me.

These are people who are retired but don’t need walkers, have gray hair but don’t drool, have an overall friendly disposition but haven’t been grandparents for too long. Tweens.

They are all so nice to each other. They don’t seem to resent each other or wish someone was working faster or give orders.  They just live together in a tween utopia where there is no “I” in “team.” They are a team that combines leisure and efficiency in a way that only a tween team could. It gives me something to look foward to in my happy tween age.

At the same time, it has opened my eyes to the inevitability of slowing down. Some people can prolong it for longer than others, but eventually, none of us can think as quickly as we once could. Every day I saw that it took them a while to understand that there was some type of system in place, and once they understood that, they couldn’t learn the system as quickly as I was able to.

It makes me worry about all the hours I spend in front of my computer, especially now with this job. There are several days where at the end of the day, I stare at my computer and have difficulty understanding what I’ve written. All that light from the monitor just enters my eyeballs and blinds me to the meaning of the symbols that I, myself, have created.

I’m not a scientist or a mathematician, and I wonder what I can do to prevent the slowing of my cognitive skills. What can I do so that I don’t ‘lose it?’ What kind of mental and physical exercises should I be doing to stay healthy and sharp?

One day, I will experience a moment where I realize that some failure I have committed will have happened because of my age. I fear for what that moment will do to me, and how I’ll cope with it.


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One response to “second-time tweens

  1. Sarah

    Learning a new language is actually a GREAT way to help keep your mind going. Our brains start turning to mush much earlier than everyone cares to admit (right around 30, though I’d have to confirm that with my husband) and learning a new language forces our brains to work on not only committing new information to memory, but over time helps our minds to store it differently as well. As toddlers, we pick up new languages almost immediately, because we haven’t developed the “settled” set of language skills that adults have, and therefore it’s stored to a very different section of the brain. My husband didn’t learn English until he was in the second grade. He struggled with it at first, but now in his early thirties he speaks two languages fluently and can think in both languages as well. (The only thing he can’t do in English is counting of any sort– he still does all of that in French.)

    Truthfully, studying any new and refreshing topic, or even revisiting long forgotten subjects, is a great way to keep those mental juices flowing. Since you’ve already kind of done the multiple-language thing, there are other avenues that you can explore should you not desire to learn yet another language.

    When I went to highschool, I begged my father to let me take French. “You’ll never need French! You live in Texas, you need to know Spanish!”

    I sure showed him. So here I am at the age of 24, severely struggling to learn French. I hang on my husband’s every word and I only pick up a few here and there. I can’t speak much at all (I pronounce too many letters like they’re Spanish), but I’m starting to understand quite a bit, assuming it’s not a vague topic. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I know that my brain needs this information and I need to learn it to function in my environment so I really try. And when I accomplish this remarkable feat, I’ll do crosswords again. I also cross-stitch now so that I’m forced to pay attention to small details (in the patterns), and I’ve even started doing some unique game coding. Anything to make me think, I’m craving. I loathed going through high school, but I cannot wait to start school again. (Hopefully next semester!)

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