Monday, September 15, 2014

Am I too old to invest?

It was September. I was in Grade 4 and I was bathed in angst.

Also, bathed in falling leaves; Canada style.
Fourth grade was the senior grade in my junior school, which meant that I among the oldest kids on the playground.  All around me ran young sprouts, full of energy and vitality.

Surrounded by such flagrant displays of youth, I felt old.

"Which way to the old folks home?"

To make matters worse, I could not imagine that there were any adventures left for me in life.  I'd already learned how to read and to do math.  I'd already gotten at least twenty badges as part of Brownies and then quit in a blaze of glory.  My best friend had just moved to the Yukon.

There were no two ways about it; I'd peaked in Grade 2.  The best years of my life were long gone.

I'll spare you the mental calculations; I was 9 years old.


Later that year, I moved across the country.  With great difficulty I made a new friend.  One glorious spring day, we were playing in her back yard when her mom called her into the house.

"But I don't want to better myself!  Can't you see that we're trying to breed earthworms?"

Over her whines of protest, my friend was made to practice what I instantly decided was the world's coolest musical instrument.

Pictured: coolness.

My friend's parents didn't know that they had created a monster.

"I want to learn the violin!"
"Why couldn't you want to learn something normal... like the trombone?  Do stores even sell violins?"
"Pretty please can I learn the violin?"
"We'll have think about it.  Maybe you should try taking up a sport instead."
"Violin!  Violin!!  Violin!!!"
"Play the game!"

I was 10 when my persistence won over my parents, who bought me a violin and enrolled me in lessons.

My elation was short-lived.  I soon realized that I was too old to be learning the violin.  Most of the children who played violin had started in Suzuki before 5.

"I didn't even know that they made violins that big!"

Surrounded by tiny violinists, I felt old.


At 23, I took on a few violin students as a side job.  The students I got were around my own age, the sorts of people find a violin teacher on Kijiji.

"Good job!  Fist bump!"

One day, one my students asked me how long I had been playing the violin.  I had to think for a minute.  (Since turning 20, I always have to calculate my age based on my birth year.)

"I started when I was ten," I said.  "So, I've played for 13 years."

I watched my student's eyes bug.  I watched as her face as she wondered if she was too old to be playing the violin, since I had started so "young".


I was also 23 when I started getting serious about investment.  I'd thought about it for years and read a few books, but I was 23 when I actually got a brokerage account and started buying things.

"Today is the day that I meet my destiny!"

Then, I reread my investment book and came to an uncomfortable realization.  The author, who promised that I could retire in my 30's by following his advice, had actually started investing while he was in university.  I was over 5 years late!  I was way too old to start investing.  I had totally missed the boat!

"It is best if your parents start a trust fund for you while you are still gestating.  If you must start investing from scratch as an adult, know that your life will be composed of nothing but pain." --investment book.
I decided that late was better than never.  I didn't let my advanced age stop me.


I'm 29 and I've had more midlife crises than a grey-haired 55-year-old in a red sports car with their trophy spouse.

"I couldn't decide between James and Antonio.  So I married both of them."
Surely by now, I am immune to age-related angst.

I turn 30 next summer.  We'll see.

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