It’s International Youth Day, so I decided to ask nine oldies what makes them feel young at heart. And I can’t lie, some of these guys are living life more than some people in their 20s.
Tejiri*, 55, smoking
I grew up in Warri and started smoking in secondary school. I started out with cigarettes, so it’s the only thing I really enjoy. I did try weed with a few friends in university, but it didn’t hit the same and I can’t explain why.
Some people may look at smoking at least one cigarette after my meal as an addiction, but that time in my backyard late at night or early in the morning makes me feel really connected to my youth. For a moment, I’m not 55. With my cigarette, I’m just back to hiding at the back of classes, smoking weed with my friends.
Amaka, 51, roasted pear
My fondest memory of my youth is sneaking away from my chores at home to my grandmother’s house. She lived behind my street, so getting there was easy. I loved those brief moments of doing nothing with her and my favourite part was the roasted peer she gave me any time I visited.
So whenever it’s pear season, like now, I can’t do without buying some for me and my kids. It just makes life feel a bit simpler.
Emeka*, 57, sports
I played every kind of sport back in UNIBEN in 1985. I was always athletic as a kid, so from football to badminton and swimming competitions, I was front and centre. Then three years after university, I broke both my knees trying to jump over a fence to escape some thieves. I had to learn how to walk again, so sports was completely out of the question.
I haven’t been able to play football or any really active sport like I used to. But swimming is something I’ve kept up with and I do with my youngest son now. It doesn’t give me the same adrenaline as competing in a match, but it makes me feel young being in a pool and just moving.
Pamela*, 40, watching K-drama
Right now, feeling young comes from the days I don’t need to do anything with myself. And watching romantic Korean movies takes my mind off everything that’s bothering me, especially my health. All the drama feels so unreal, but it’s what I love about K-dramas.
Ronke*, 45, spontaneity
I feel young again when I take spontaneous decisions. Normally, I’d have to factor in my husband and two kids, but the moments I take a decision to travel with a friend without overthinking things, I feel like a kid again. Mostly because spontaneity allows me to imagine my life without my current responsibilities.
Dwin, 27 (but acts 40+), knowing what’s hip
What makes me feel young? When I know the Gen Z slangs. Like ‘okuurr’, ‘big purrr’ (insert other Gen Z sounds).
Tomiwa, 40, fitness, work and a social life
Being fit, active and having the energy to do everything I want or need to makes me feel like age isn’t catching up with me. My work in media also makes me feel like I’m plugged into the world and what is being created. I also engage with a wide range of people from different age groups.
There’s a lot to look forward to; a long optimistic horizon of things to accomplish and things I haven’t done yet. And living out what feels like a full life, with fulfilling work and social life, real friendships and families keeps me from thinking I’m getting old.
Uche, 42, wine
Every day I come back from work, I just want to catch up on my 7 p.m. shows like Tinsel, and end the day with a glass of wine at 10 p.m. Does it make me feel young? Not exactly. It’s just a momentary pleasure that stops time for a few moments. I don’t think about my two kids, my job or the fact that I’ll do it all over again tomorrow.
Daniel*, 56, driving
When I was in my second year at university, my father gave me his Peugeot 504 to get around. I was a young guy staying off campus and schooling in UNIBEN at the time, so that car unlocked a new level of freedom for me.
I was invited to every single party on campus the moment people noticed I had a car. Most people didn’t, so I was the guy who could pick up babes for the parties outside school. And of course, I could easily drive down to UNILAG, for instance. My social status basically went up in my second year, and it made me love driving, especially on wide-open roads.
Now, I get those flashbacks to my party days when I drive sometimes. It makes me feel good and young.
Onyeche, 52, dyeing my hair
At the beginning of 2022, my daughter kept going on and on about how my hair wasn’t growing anymore. She suggested cutting and dyeing it gold. I felt it would be a bit drastic. But when she went back to school in March, I got bored and decided to try it out. She’d recommended a saloon, so I drove down and showed them a picture of the style she suggested. It had a side part and fade, but I didn’t want to over-analyse my decision at that point.
When they were done, it was such a relief to get rid of my hair. The gold dye completely changed my look, and I loved it. I haven’t looked back on my decision since then. I even just dyed my hair red. It’s loud, but that’s the part about dyeing my hair that feels so youthful.