When I finished school in my late teenage years, it felt as though a huge and seemingly never-ending part of my life was finally coming to an end. That highly structured environment my entire life had been based around was changing, and like so many times up to that point, I was about to experience something completely different.
As far back as I look, I see the same story. Every single little event was a massive milestone for me, from losing teeth, to getting new clothes, my first day of school; things we forget meant so much to us at one point.
Time moved so slowly then, that it appeared to stretch endlessly with adulthood only a distant idea.
When I think about my life now, time appears to pass more quickly as each year passes. What seems like one year has become five.
I am not alone with this phenomenon as it is incredibly common, and most people will experience it the older they get. So what is so different about our lives when we are young, in comparison to when we get older.
The answer is experience.
As children, we experience so many things for the first time. Every year we take on a host of new challenges, and it begins from the moment we are born. We spend most of the first two decades of our lives just being curious – learning, beginning with things like learning to walk and talk, all the way to when we finally get to the point where the basics of survival in our society are second nature.
As we get older, our curiosity wanes and we experience less and less things for the first time. It is at this point, that time feels like it begins to move quicker. But will this speed increase continue?
Recent research shows that “millennials” (pretty much everyone) value experiences over products. But you may not find that so surprising. When you think about it, experiences have been part of the core offerings of some businesses for many years. Think restaurants, hotels, cinemas, pubs, or theme parks. Even religion to an extent is an experience. As Pine and Gilmore state, it is the experience economy.
A lot more businesses are starting to catch on to this and realise the potential value in experiences, and are offering it as part of their catalogue of products.
Recently, Airbnb launched the Airbnb Experience part of their business as an additional aspect to their usual offering. Experience is a platform where members of the Airbnb community can host their own experiences. Consumers are invited to join the host in their city, where the consumer is brought to experience something first hand. The host is generally someone that has a vast knowledge of the area that the experience is based. These experiences can cover anything conceivable (which is vetted by Airbnb) and range from cycling tours of Miami, food market tours in London, to training with Samurai sword artists.
As I come to the end of my Masters Degree at Kingston University, looking back over the last seven or eight months, I have experienced both – time has slowed down, and sped up. The raft of new experiences, and how much at times my mind has been overwhelmed has made this experience a momentous part of my life, another milestone that will elongate time.
Now going forward I will embrace every chance I get to experience something new, and allow my curiosity to grow to as close as I can, to the level it was when I was a child.
I will, as recommended by Belle Beth Cooper of Australian start-up, Hello Code, keep learning, visit new places, meet new people, try new activities and be spontaneous. Maybe I can even live forever, though that probably wouldn’t be a good idea!