Thursday, July 14, 2011

What prevents the middle-aged from new challenges

I've been thinking of moving to and working in Silicon Valley, also known as the Bay Area in US. It's a famous mecca for IT engineers. It's been my long time dream. I used to be a very eager-to-learn and frustrating young programmer who was never satisfied with Japanese IT industry. I really wanted to go to the Bay Area. But I didn't. I can name a dozen of reasons why I didn't go there. This might be just a "sour grapes" attitude, that is, a kind of rationalization, though.

I moved to Canada in 1999. That would have been the best timing to move to the Bay Area, but I didn't. It's rare for me to regret something. Exceptionally, however, I feel a little regrettable about it. The first decade of the 21st century saw so many the Bay Area-based IT companies flourishing including Google, Apple and facebook. I missed the best decade of the Internet expansion from the Bay Area to the rest of the world.

The Bay Area has been a very exciting place for ambitious engineers and entrepreneurs. And it will be. I met a Japanese guy who had a long working experience in US. According to him, there's neither "best" nor "worst" time to move to the Bay Area. Even the macro economy is in slump, some new startups are growing rapidly there. Similarly, even when the macro economy is booming, some companies are going bankrupt there. "The real best time for you to go to the Bay Area is when you WANT to go there," he added.

I have no wife. I have no children, either. I have nothing which binds me to my home country, unlike other typical middle-aged people. I can do whatever I want to do.

Nevertheless, I still feel hesitating to go to the Bay Area. Why?

The real enemy resides in my own body. It's the memory of the past 12 years. I didn't go to the Bay Area 12 years ago in 1999. I have wandered all across the world since then. It was a great fun. I do appreciate these unique experiences. However, the idea of going to the Bay Area now makes me feel that I made a huge error in the past 12 years. Why did I not go there in 1999? Did I make a big mistake? "Are you stupid?" The inside of myself keeps blaming on me.

It's considered normal for the middle-aged people to get conservative and stop challenging something new. They usually say that it's because their body is getting old and does not function as before. Or they may say that they have a family to support and can't jeopardize the life stability. However, the real reason why they go with the status quo might be somewhat different. Probably, the real reason resides in themselves. They have too much memory to deal with. They feel compelled to rationalize what they have been doing. They might say "When I was younger, I had a dream and wanted to do that. The dream has gone, but it's OK. I don't want it any longer, and even if I did, it would be too late. What else could I do?"

Sometimes, those middle-aged people are right. Actually, their dream has gone forever. They can't do anything about it. Even if they still can do something about it, however, they also tend to give everything up. That's because they don't want to admit that they got wrong somewhere in the past.

It is always painful for you to admit your mistakes. The more serious the error is, the more painful you feel. But middle age is not old age yet. It is also true that it's too early to give up everything and to retire with the status quo. It's really difficult for me to admit my own mistakes. But I will. And I will challenge again.

1 comment:

Andy M. said...

There is no one who never regrets a thing. When people say “I have no regret in my life” they are just saying it. My regret is not coming to America sooner. I wanted to go to school (a high school, a university, etc.) in the US, but I came to America after graduating from a university. Big deal huh?
They say 40 is the new 30. Besides, it will never be too late to follow your heart.

Andy M.