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Surrounded by Clocks But No Time


I looked around my desk today and realized I have about 5 clock faces staring back at me. Not because I’m a crazy person holed up in a world of clocks (although now I’m beginning to wonder…), but because clocks seem to be an added component of other, largely unrelated things.

There’s one on my computer screen, always reminding me of how little I’ve done today. There’s one I got from Ireland, in an ornate, hand-carved base. I bought the clock for the base — the clock itself is just some cheap, made-in-china timepiece. The clock on my weather station leaves me scratching my head a little (I need the weather forecast, not the time!). To say nothing about the clocks on my wrist or in my pocket on my cell phone. But the worst clock of them all is the one you can’t see.

It’s the clock inside my head.

All these clocks, I think to myself, and so actual little time. Wouldn’t it be nice if the more clocks we had, the more time we had? Because while all of these external clocks keep on ticking, my internal clock is going in the opposite direction.

You see, I turn 40 this year, and it’s not something I’m particularly looking forward to. There are some things that I had hope to accomplish by my 40th birthday (it’s in September), and it doesn’t look like I’m going to make it with some of those goals. What’s the big deal? I mean, isn’t 40 the new 30?

Well, sure, if you’re practically any age other than 40. When you’re younger, 40 is another world. You’ll have kids by then, be settled down, a different life. When you’re older, 40 looks like a piece of youth you may have mistaken for “old” at the time.

But the secret as you age, that few people talk about, is that you actually don’t age inside. Your parents are the same age as they were when they were 20 or 30, inside. They have the same dreams, fears, aspirations and hopes as they did back then. Sure, they’re a little different now, but ask anybody who’s 60 or 70 if they feel 60 or 70 and most will say, “Heck no!” Ask anybody who just turned 21 if they feel 21 and they’ll likely reply, “Not really.”

It seems that whatever our chronological age, many of us always feel different — somewhere between 55% and 65% of us do, according to the research in this area. When such a difference is reported, younger people most often report feeling older than their chronological age, while older people often report feeling younger than theirs. The mean difference is around 5 to 6 years.

So when I look in the mirror, I see the vibrant 35-year-old man I really am! Not the 40-year-old I will soon be turning.

What do you see?

Surrounded by Clocks But No Time

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Surrounded by Clocks But No Time. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 5 Feb 2008)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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