The new president of France has just caused a heck of a lot of trouble for people under 40, whose parents, significant others, bosses and supposed friends like to compare them with others.
How many times growing up did you hear a sentence that began: By the time he (or she) was your age, so and so had… (fill in relevant achievement here). What have you achieved?
From now on, if you get to 40 and have people in your life who have no appreciation for whatever self-esteem issues or personal crisis of confidence you are going through, you can bet you will hear: By the time he was your age, Emmanuel Macron was already president of France. What are you doing with your life?
I seem to recall (though these days with false memories becoming a real thing, I can’t be sure) someone telling a particularly shy and socially awkward 12-year-old that by the time Jesus of Nazareth was 12, he was addressing teachers in the Temple.
President Macron, who will only be 40 this December, has joined that list of overachievers who make normal types look as though they have massively underachieved. On that list of over-achievers you have the likes of Steve Jobs, who was 21 when he co-founded Apple, and Mark Zuckerberg, who created Facebook by age 19 and was a billionaire by age 23.
Much further back in time there was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who had written 35-plus symphonies and 14 operas.
More recently, Usain Bolt had become a world-renowned sporting icon at 21, when he broke the 100m world record and bagged an Olympic gold while at it.
Of course today, with the world’s penchant for lists, awards and making the circle bigger, there are all manner of Top 30 under 30 type trophies, which I don’t recall being around when I was under 30 and making memorable strides in my professional life. It’s almost as though they waited until I was no longer eligible before they instituted those awards.
Of course if you are quick of wit, you can also fire back at those who attempt to put you down. Much like the fellow who was tired of ancient relatives coming to him at family weddings and asking him when he would be tying the knot and reminding him he wasn’t getting any younger or better looking.
Fed up with this relentless quizzing on a subject that he preferred not to discuss, the not-so-young man started attending family funerals and going up to his aged relatives and using a stage whisper to suggest to them that they might be next, as they weren’t getting any younger, either. The message soon got around and the “When are you getting married?” questions stopped.
Perhaps the time has come for people to stop making these sometimes hurtful comparisons, but then again, what would people do on social networks if they couldn’t make each other miserable with comparisons of lifestyle, holidays and even food eaten?