It has been well reported that I enjoy the World Wide Web. I like to share the occasional GIF or dank meme on I love taking a break in my day to double tap some Insta G’s and catch up with Mindy Kaling’s story to see whatever she’s up to on the set of her new show. I also don’t hate falling so far down a YouTube rabbit hole that I end up watching an hour’s worth of Seinfeld blooper reels. And, as my colleague Amy Calder noted in her column this week, I am (somewhat) tech-savvy.

And yet, you may be surprised to hear that I do share some interests with older generations.

For example, I spend a lot of my down time reading the newspaper, listening to public radio and putting together 1,000-piece puzzles of breezy countrysides and the twinkling Parisian cityscape.

I know what you’re thinking, Boomers.

“Millennials, they’re just like us!”

We are! I am!


Even if I don’t own any darn clocks.

And as much as my elders love to tell stories about their life and experiences, I love to hear ’em. Interviews with people who’ve lived into their 90s or beyond 100 are always so interesting, especially when they cite their secret to a long life as something random like eating two raw eggs a day and never marrying.

My veteran colleagues are kind of like my own personal time travelers. Their stories can take me to the decades that predate me and give me an authentic picture of “the way things used to be.”

I recently went to see the documentary “Lives Well Lived,” which featured 40 people aged 75 to 103, with a collective life experience of 3,000 years, sharing their life stories and giving tidbits of wisdom on how the rest of us ought to live our own lives.

The documentary showed many tales of triumph over hard times and secrets to success in love, but what I found most worthwhile was the depiction of all of the different things one could do and be in a lifetime.

Shifting interests and newfound passions prompted many of the subjects to change their professions or pick up a hobby, from political activism to teaching dance. One woman decided at age 50 to change course and move to France to study the language of her mother.


Holding a laundry list of jobs and talents is a common trait I’ve found in many of the most interesting people in my life.

A former professor of mine, who is undoubtedly the most interesting person I know, held so many odd jobs even before he taught journalism for 40 years. Throughout his life he’s been a bouncer, a factory worker, the Santa Claus at the mall. He owned an ice cream parlor. He worked in advertising and then as a copy editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He’s also managed to have a family and travel the world.

Such people are inspirational to me because not only is it scary to have to pick one thing and stick with it, it is also stifling.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be so many things. For a while, I wanted to be — and not just be like, but be — Mia Hamm and score goals in the World Cup. When I was learning about the Revolutionary War, with which I was weirdly obsessed, I wanted to be a historian and be a talking head in one of those documentaries about whether the 10 plagues of Egypt really happened. The aspiration of being a historian fizzled around the time I started watching Emeril Lagasse’s show, Emeril Live, and asked for a chef’s coat for Christmas. I think I was the only 10-year-old conceptualizing menus for my future restaurant. In high school, I quietly wanted to be an author but ripped up everything I wrote out of embarrassment and fear.

Most likely I will always work in journalism, but maybe I’ll also coach my kid’s soccer team, or at the very least hand out orange slices at halftime. I certainly won’t ever be included in any Revolutionary War documentaries, but in a way, newspapers are the first draft of history. It’s likely that I won’t own a restaurant that earns any Michelin stars, but maybe I’ll open a cafe that’s also a bookstore and has regulars who come every weekend because I make great omelettes and the place kind of feels like home. Maybe some day I’ll write a piece of fiction, and instead of crumpling up the pages, I’ll send it to a publisher.

The subjects of the documentary, and the people who’ve lived rich, full lives whom I speak with everyday, are a good reminder to follow passions to wherever they lead. And also, despite growing up with an internet culture that’s set expectations for instant gratification, they’ve shown me that I don’t need to race to do and be all the things that I want — I’ve still got time.

Emily Higginbotham, originally from Illinois, is a reporter at the Morning Sentinel. You can follow her on Twitter: @EmilyHigg. Or reach her by email:

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