Things in the Mail that Make You Feel Old

Scott William Carter   February 5, 2010  

I got one of those Social Security summary statements in the mail yesterday. You know the ones: They tell you your monthly benefits depending on which age you retire — 72, 65, or early retirement at 62.

I saw the 62 and a thought popped into my head: Hey, I’m nearly 37, that’s what . . . only 25 years and I could cash some of those checks.

It wasn’t the 25 years that set off warning bells in my mind. It was my use of the word only.

Only? Only 25 years? When did two and a half decades merit being described as only? While all the normal panicked thoughts raged through my mind — I haven’t done anything yet, what about my goals, I’m old and I’m still just treading water — I realized that the reason I can say only is because I can actually envision twenty-five years. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. It was just a number that didn’t mean anything. But now, I can look ahead and see those years passing.

So the moral of the story? Well, naturally I’ve decided to be more careful about opening the mail. You never know what you’ll read in there that’ll make you feel old.

And to be careful with the world only. Obviously, it can be a dangerous word.