Many people on Hackernews lament that they cannot start learning to code because they are in their-mid thirties. “I am too old to do that.”
On the other side, I also see many people who are worried that they are too young to do the current job. Many would question their leadership ability to lead if they are in early 20s or even teenager age.
The age labeling has been holding many of us back to do what we want to do. Failing to do what we want while we know it is something we must do is the most tragic failure of our life.
It's ok to do something and fail. It's not ok not to do it because of the discouragement of age labeling. If you take all the judgment out of your head, you will see age is nothing but a number.
Age labeling is no different than from other stereotypes we have in our society (like Asians are nerds and must be good at Math). The stereotypes are approved and based on the average behavior of the group which could vastly different from individuals' experience.
The idea that we need to achieve X by a certain age is very cliche. It assumes that everyone needs to check a list of checkboxes by the time they get to X. In reality, different people have different experiences and different lists of checkboxes.
Age labeling often takes a bigger toll on the "old", not because of their age but because they have more things to lose than the young. Most of the time, they have achieved something and it's hard to leave them behind.
When you want to start something new it means you want to break the circular path in your current situation. Breaking that circle requires some courage but if you care enough about your work, you will eventually achieve greatness.
Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald franchise at the age of 53. Vera Wang started her design career at 40. Donald Fisher had zero experience in retail when he opened his first Gap store at the age of 40.
Or this gentlemen who got his Phd at 66.
What if I have other commitments including kids and a mortgage? Start smaller and plan your exit more patiently. The key point here is to start and keep the momentum going.
Our life is short. You can live in the herd's approval and regret in your grave. Or you can at least try it once and never regret again.