Last weekend my fiancée and I went on the hunt for some good wanton noodles because I had a craving. We ended up in the neighbourhood where I went to school, and while waiting for my food, I found myself reminiscing about the years I spent growing up in the area. I pointed out to my fiancée where there was a stall that sold chicken rice for $1.80 (which even at the time was almost unheard of), where there was a provision shop that illegally sold cigarettes to students, and also where we used to climb walls thinking we were parkour athletes.
As I reminisced, it occurred to me that it has been almost twelve years since I’ve left secondary school. Now, before you roll your eyes and call me “Junior”, I’ll be the first to admit that I know I’m still young. In that moment however, it was alarming that the twelve years had flown by so quickly. It seems like only yesterday my friends and I were sneakily puffing cigarettes in hidden stairwells thinking we were “edgy” and “cool”. I almost started hyper-ventilating when it occurred to me that I would be turning thirty in a couple of years and I still haven’t even come close to accomplishing the things I want to.
I spent the next day fretting over things I wanted to do in the near future, like setting up a business, learning how to invest fruitfully, making a perfect martini, and once again almost sent myself into a panic attack. Thankfully, an old familiar face reminded me that everything was going to be alright, and that age is just a number. That familiar face is none other than the Swiss legend himself, Roger Federer.
Over the weekend, the 36-year-old put any doubt of him being the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) to rest by claiming his 20th Grand Slam title, more than any other male in the sport. It’s taken 19 years as a professional, but he’s done it. The only person to win a major at a later age is Ken Rosswell, whose own record is 12 majors. Even though the final against Marin Čilić got a little hairy at times, there was little doubt that Federer would come out victorious. Yet again, the Swiss employed his dastardly tactic of exploiting his younger opponents’ weaknesses repeatedly, pushing them off the cliff.
In the post match press conference he was asked, “You’re 36, going against guys who are bigger, stronger, younger. How long do you think you can continue playing at this level?”. He replied,
“No idea. Honest, I don’t know. I have no idea. I’ve won three slams now in 12 months. I can’t believe it myself. I just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. Then I don’t think age is an issue, per se. It’s just a number.”
His words struck a chord in me. Even a tennis ace like himself wasn’t confident of what the future held for himself. All he knew was that he had to stay hungry, and focused on the goals at hand. Age is just a number.
What does it matter that I only start my business and at 30, or make the perfect martini at 50? What I truly need to focus on are my goals and how I’m going to achieve them. With the Lunar New Year just around the corner, I’m sure many of you will be reflecting on your lives as well – if not voluntarily, then by way of some nosy relative interrogating you about your life’s pursuits. If that be the case, just remember: Stay hungry. Stay focused. Age is just a number.