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Thread: Mental Age

  1. #1
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    Mental Age

    I spent all my life up until the end of my 20s feeling like I was older than my peers.

    As a child I often felt like the childish games I played with my friends were more of a role-play I engaged them in than something born naturally in me. This probably also had a lot to do with the fact I could not relate to what little girls were supposed to relate to, the games of house or playing with dolls in anticipation of becoming a wife and mother in adulthood.

    But it was more than that, there was the distinct feeling of not only being different but also older. At 12 I began to have existential depression because I couldn't figure out what I was meant to do. During any kind of carefree entertainment, there often came a moment in which I became detached and observed others as if they were only a part of a scene in a movie I was watching. In some way I felt like an imposter, someone merely pretending to be there and then, in the moment with them. I felt old. But not in the sense that I had more important and mature things to do. Old like something timeless, if that makes any sense. Like someone for whom the specific stages, rituals and milestones that define change and growth within a human lifespan made no sense. I felt more oneness with rocks, mountains and streams than with human beings.

    In my later adolescence I ended up in a classroom with people two years older than me, and graduated at 15 (essentially because my traveling exploited a loophole in my education). I spent the end of high school being consistently amazed and depressed by the fact that I still felt so much older than the older people who surrounded me. I still could not relate to their concerns or ideas of fun, I couldn't focus on their conversation. I continued to find refuge in my own mind and lived very evidently inside my own head.

    My twenties would have been a continuation of that if I hadn't ended up associating with people a lot older than me, and with these people I felt like I had finally found my peers. But now that I'm in my 30s, I feel like something strange is happening to me. I've begun to feel progressively younger. To the point where now, I look at people my age, and they seem to sound, act and look older than me. What's going on? Did I just miss the boat of adulthood while being busy doing something else? Did my refusal to comply with the rituals of maturity leave me lagging behind, in a sense? Why does everyone suddenly seem so old when they used to be so young? Why do I feel young when I spent so many years feeling old?

    Is this... an INTP thing?
    Last edited by Madrigal; 12-23-2013 at 07:21 AM.

  2. #2
    (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ Deckard's Avatar
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    You're just ahead of the curve. You grew up before your peers, then you realised the trappings of adulthood were bullshit before your peers. Dunno if it's an INTP thing but I have felt the same way.

  3. #3
    chaotic neutral shitpost
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    existential contemplation/depression and suicidal thoughts began at age 12. in my early to mid teens i felt older than my peers and was still very much depressed; this feeling was solidified in my late teens. at the beginning of my twenties, however, i started feeling very much my age and i've grown super conscious of my youth. i predict that i'm gonna start feeling younger than everybody else my age once i grow closer to my 30s and it helps that i'm probably going to look it. (i'm 23 now but i can pass for 18-ish apparently, and i guess some people treat me that way.)
    Last edited by jigglypuff; 12-23-2013 at 09:24 AM. Reason: punctuation

  4. #4
    asl? ;] JollyBard's Avatar
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    Maybe you weren't mentally older but just didn't know how to have fun. Or you're projecting adult thoughts onto your childhood you.

    But the detachment: yes, as an INTP I totally relate. What most people do to "have fun" confuses me.

  5. #5
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    I always felt older than my peers as well when I was young, but I think it tied into my depression and isolation. I always felt derisive towards "childish" entertainment like cartoons (e.g. Power Rangers when they were at the height of popularity) or certain toys, but I don't think that would have been the case if I'd been more involved with other people. That said, I've always had a kind of bitter and cynical side to my temperament that causes me to come across as older. It also affected who I related to. I always found it easier to talk to adults, and frankly I am very relieved that I'm in my mid 20s now since I'm much more comfortable being myself without it seeming strange.

  6. #6
    libertine librarian sandwitch's Avatar
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    I definitely didn't feel like I belonged with my peers, but it's difficult to claim early maturity when I'm continually surprised by my own naivety.

  7. #7
    Member MacGuffin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madrigal View Post
    My twenties would have been a continuation of that if I hadn't ended up associating with people a lot older than me, and with these people I felt like I had finally found my peers. But now that I'm in my 30s, I feel like something strange is happening to me. I've begun to feel progressively younger. To the point where now, I look at people my age, and they seem to sound, act and look older than me. What's going on? Did I just miss the boat of adulthood while being busy doing something else? Did my refusal to comply with the rituals of maturity leave me lagging behind, in a sense? Why does everyone suddenly seem so old when they used to be so young? Why do I feel young when I spent so many years feeling old?

    Is this... an INTP thing?
    Don't know if is an INTP thing, but I feel the same.

    The problem is... I'm not sure when the flip happened. I used to feel older, now I feel much younger. Surely there was a dividing line.

  8. #8
    asl? ;] JollyBard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGuffin View Post
    Don't know if is an INTP thing, but I feel the same.

    The problem is... I'm not sure when the flip happened. I used to feel older, now I feel much younger. Surely there was a dividing line.
    For me I think it's happening right now. I'm just starting college and everyone's so caught up in their jobs and parties and relationships and drugs and sex... And I'm here, all day on my computer, doing nothing concrete, just messing around here and there and watching Star Trek.

  9. #9
    <3 gator's Avatar
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    I went through something similar.

    I think part of it is due to my introspective nature but part of it was due to the fact that I was calm and reasonable enough that my parents always shared their problems with me. I always got included in their discussions about work and such, and they never talked down to me, so I always felt like I was one of the adults, and I could never really relate to kids my own age.

    I was always under pressure to be good and responsible, and to be better than other kids. I've always been kind of dour, serious, responsible. It was something I carried on with until almost the end of university. I felt very old and tired.

    Then, that flip, like you said. I've learned to lighten up and have more fun, take more risks. I've found some new friends who are more like me, or are of the same mindset. No doubt not being saddled with the burden of home ownership and children like lots of my peers has helped as well.

    There's another dimension to it for me, though. I'm a bit of a late bloomer in a lot of ways. I think that all the while I was feeling super old I was avoiding and/or not having a lot of experiences that a lot of my peers were having. I've had to accept that I don't know a lot of things, and there are a lot of things that I just won't know beforehand. So now in a sense I'm catching up to where I should be, experience-wise, by my age. Lots of things are new to me, and it makes me feel young.

  10. #10
    Senior Member skip's Avatar
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    A friend of mine who's 66 says she still feels like she's in her thirties, even after having raised two children and had a lengthy and successful career. What age I feel depends on what's going on but my lifestyle is probably closer to someone in their twenties, in many respects.
    Yes, I smell like a horse. No, I don't consider that a problem.

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