When Did I Become Old?

People are living longer these days, which is a sad fact in itself. Medical progress, technological developments and improved standards of living have done their best to stop people answering the sweet call of Death. Every year, the number of centenarians increases. One-hundred is the new eighty, seventy the new fifty. The forties want to be the new twenties but the fifties and sixties are fighting them whole-heartedly for it. The United Nations estimates that by twenty-fifty there will be a whopping three-point-seven million people over the age of one-hundred, most of whom will be trying every way imaginable to end the hell on earth that is living, only to be bound in their fleshy prison of disintegrating joints and melting minds by whatever new pill has been thought up in some cruel laboratory.

But if this is the case, why is it that I, a comparative toddler at the age of twenty-eight, feel so used up and haggard? From mind to body to career to creativity, I cannot help but feel that I peaked in my teens and it has been one long, slow, waistline-increasing descent ever since. My health, my metabolism and my tolerance to nearly every ingredient on the planet is atrocious. Inhaling sugar fumes is enough to add another kilogram to my weight, eating a biscuit or a slice of cake triples that. I have reached a stage where I have to live a life of enforced teetotalism because one small sup of that sweet nectar puts me out of all action for the next week. Mitchell and Webb say the perfect amount of booze to drink on any occasion is slightly less than two pints; for me, it is slightly less than no pints. I long for the days where I could neck a bottle of some spirit or other and cartwheel down some stairs with no issues. Of course, downing a bottle of whiskey is what caused me to think jumping out a second-storey window was a good idea—but that’s a story for another day.

And don’t you, that one reader upon whom I force this blog, tell me that exercise can stave off all of these effects of which I speak. My knees crack when I bend even slightly, my elbows click, my shins splint when walking at any degree above absolute level. I bought a FitBit a while back, in the misguided belief that spending money on a fitness tool would guilt me into working out more. The device became nothing more than an alarm clock, and now I cannot remember where it is because the strap fell off because FitBits are garbage.

Yet I do not have the luxury of claiming that these woes are genetic, that they run in the Lovatt family. This weekend my younger brother is competing in a triathlon. This is as part of his warmup to compete in some Ironman triathlon later this year. Over the past two years or so he has run the London Marathon, the Berlin Marathon, the Tokyo Marathon, and has a spot for one of the American marathons, I forget which. He woke up one day, decided he wanted to run a marathon and then did it. When I wake up, I lament that I am still alive and then go back to sleep. 

‘What about your livelihood?’ I hear nobody ask. A non-entity, the culmination of years of stop-starting and having no idea what to do. I skipped university in my younger days, partly because of that ‘having no idea what to do’ thing, and partly because a great many of my friends had dropped out of their courses citing how much they hated the whole experience. Between the ages of eighteen to twenty-one I worked in marketing, a position at which I was vastly underprepared but got because it was a new company and I was one of the few people who had A-levels and did not have a criminal record. I hated it, absolutely despised it, had no idea what I was doing for most of it, but I carried on because it was security. It was only when my manager said to me that if I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do by the time I was twenty-five then in all likelihood I would be stuck doing the same mind-numbing tasks until I died. I took that as the cue to go university, where I spent the next four years of my life learning about mind-numbing tasks to receive a degree in a field for which I had no particular talent nor interest but chose because it seemed to offer the most choices for future careers.

It didn’t.

What it did get me, was a job in finance, which I very quickly learned wasn’t right for me, because each day I drove to the office, it felt far more appealing to drive off the bridge than drive over it. I quit, changing focus again with a postgraduate course in a field where I cannot get a job because all of my previous work experience is in other fields, and in which I am deemed overqualified for the entry level positions; which is, of course, the most stupid reason imaginable for rejecting somebody. “Sorry, Lovatt—you’ve proven yourself too competent for this. Jog on.”

So here I am, twenty-eight, though the state of my body is probably double that, with zero prospects beyond this blog, which nobody reads. I should be in the prime of my life but I am already on the scrapheap. No present, no future, no hope. Just put me in the coffin, nail the lid shut and put me out of my misery.

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