I fear the thought of men facing expiration date at 35

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a male civil servant in my early 30s. I have a fear of getting old.

A few years ago, I learned about the “35-year-old age limit theory.” According to this idea, 35 years old is the turning point for changing jobs and getting married when the negative factor of age outweighs the positive factor of accumulated experience. In other words, men face their expiration date at 35. I think this makes a lot of sense.

With this theory in mind, I’ve been trying my best, but there’s no sign of progress in making a career change or finding a spouse. Hard work doesn’t always lead to good results. That’s how society works sometimes. At the same time, time is steadily passing. Now I feel depressed when I think about my birthday.

I suffered a major setback when I was a college student, and since then I’ve had this obsessive thought that I am inferior to others, so I have to work many times harder than them. My parents always tell me, “Just go at your own pace,” but I even feel angry at myself for making them worry and not being a good son.

I’m diligent, and that’s my only saving grace. I belong to a popular department at work, but I’m getting even more frustrated with myself for not being able to work hard and produce any tangible results. I can’t sort out my feelings.

— I, Yamagata

Dear Mr. I:

I take my hat off to you for being deeply sincere and earnest. However, at this time when living to 100 years old has become more common, many people would probably find it very hard to believe this “35-year-old age limit theory.” It’s only one-third of the way through. The first thing you need to do is to take a deep breath and calm down.

You understand your mistakes very well and have made the effort to overcome them. That’s why you are working in a star department and why your parents are there for you.

So now, I’d like to take a moment to think about what a limit means. You said men face an expiration date at 35, but your competence does not just suddenly drop. I believe how people wane in their abilities varies widely among individuals.

I’ve seen and heard of people who have written great books after they turned 80 years old and have become like a different person even though they had done nothing special before. You shouldn’t be swayed by fixed ideas that dictate how people turn out at each age.

Also, you wrote that you have yet to produce any tangible results. For human beings, shouldn’t we think that creating something tangible is only one kind of achievement, and that making an effort itself is also an achievement?

— Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist