The I-am-too-late Syndrome

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It’s so easy and so common to get into this way of thinking. As you grow older- even if you are in your mid 2os- you hear this phrase a lot. People talk about how late it is to start over. How late it is to make a dramatic career change. To start a new relationship. As depressing and somewhat convenient to feel that way, it’s also insanely ridiculous. It is hard to shake the thoughts if you are living in to a society where people seem to be dying to start their careers and get married and have kids. And it looks like a lot of societies are like this. Hell, the first time I heard the words “my biological clock is ticking” was on American TV and the woman was merely in her late 20s.

I don’t know why people are so willing to conform to such inconvenient and limiting so-called rules. The fact that some people met the love of their loves in high school doesn’t automatically oblige you to marry your boyfriend at the moment in a rush. And if your friend has gotten his/her dream career at the age of 23, it is her life. Not yours. There is not a timeline everybody can follow or has to follow. Luckily, I manage to isolate myself from this syndrome most of the time. I used to have a strategy for coping. Whenever I seemed to be losing hope, I would remind myself that I would never forgive myself if I didn’t just work extremely hard and didn’t do everything humanly possible to achieve my goal. But then I read a great life story and well, I figured the advice in that book was much more effective and efficient. A Turkish drama student went to the States upon graduation. He was 26. He started to live the starving actor’s life, in a different country and at the age of 26. His name is Aykut “Ike” Ogut and about a decade later he was pretty much where he wanted to be – with still a lot of things to do for himself. Oh, and believe me the guy didn’t have it easy. He went through poverty, drinking too much, having health problems, depression…But he didn’t give up. And he made it. He jokes that he is yet to be in a movie with Tom Cruise. But from where I look, he is doing pretty good. He lived in L.A and New York, he played both little and big parts, he directed sound departments. He is happy, well-off and quite successful. Not the mention, it is quite a long and complicated journey. But he did it. First he had to start and he started at 26. So it is only natural that he would write a book on self-growth and motivation and how to achieve the stuff you want to achieve, no matter how insanely difficult it might seem. His words work just fine for me and I’m 25. And my plans are just as complicated, including the whole going to L.A. and making it in Hollywood thing. Of course he is only human and he does occasionally get depressed and wonder if he can pull some stuff off.Like writing this book when he was 35. Writing is hard and I can imagine how much endurance books will take. But he didn’t give in. This time he just read about the accomplishments of authors who got published after the age of 35. See? It’s a wonderful way for the mind to work.

Ogut’s adivce relates all areas. If you want to be an actor, but you are yet to start, you are supposed to encourage yourself by reading about people who have gone through similar paths. It is ridiculous for anactress- to-be in her 20s to compare herself to Jodie Foster and say “Boy, I’m too late! I’m too old to start!” Well, if you take Jodie as a benchmark, everybody is doomed. I mean she was acting in commercials when she was in diapers. She was acting with Robert De Niro when she was 13. You are not supposed to think like that. But by all means, please think about Gerard Butler. He actually has a law degree. He didn’t start acting until he was 25. Sure, he did fantasize about it but he didn’t actually try. He was from Scotland, and already in his mid-20s. But he hated the office and took his chances. Have you checked him out lately? He is one of Hollywood’s most sought after leading men. And Britain’s. He got to play Irish, Scottish and American roles. He did action, comedy, drama, romance and musicals. He did theater and movies. This is the guy you should be reading about. Not Tom Cruise who got his first acting gig it in 19. You should also avoid the failure stories. Sure, not every one makes it but it doesn’t mean you are not going to be able to.

It is not just about acting. It’s about everything. People can find true love at 50, or at 15. You can make your dreams come true at any age. Of course it might be tough if you try to be olympic-good at an athletic sport after 30,as Seth Godin puts it in his book “The Dip” . But other than that, you can bungee-jump at 83 (has been done and the guy is alive. However you should make sure to get some tests done before, just in case), you can be an American and get to play in Japanese TV shows after you hit 30 (Timothy Ferris) or you can also get yourself published at 60. Of course I am not telling you to take it slow and wait. I am just saying that whenever you get stuck, there are plenty of real life examples of people who come from similar backgrounds as you and that their stories are the perfect way to get inspired.

Oh sure, you will have a pessimistic friend who says he/she gets more depressed with stories like that. Hell, maybe even you are that easily depressed friend. You can always find an excuse not to put yourself out there. I am just trying to help out with finding the reasons not to stop trying.

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