Why I Love Getting Older: 7 Reasons Getting Older is Pretty Great
“I can’t die before learning French!” – me, five years ago, in a full-on panic mode, and going through a quarter-life crisis. Despite my panic, I didn’t actually miss being younger.
I think that it was the number itself, that freaked me out a bit. More than the number 30, which would seem odd, if it wasn’t for the fact that by 30, I’d learned an important lesson from a very stylish, older gentleman. Whom I’ve never actually talked to.
“I am not going to lie; that old man scratching his butt for the past five minutes is kind of distracting.”– I said to my husband while waiting in line with him during one of his regular trips to a completely-out-of-the-way, as in four-towns-over, deli.
“Who?”– he turns around as if my gentle whisper wasn’t enough of an implication to not do just that.
“Oh, that guy?”- he goes– “Well stop looking then, you perv. He’s here every Saturday. I’m pretty sure he does that every time he tries to remember something.”
“Oh, come on now. He’s old. He ran out of fucks to give a long time ago. I’ve got nothing but respect for that man. It’s actually kind of inspiring, don’t you think?”
He was quite dapper-looking, and I do love a nice pocket square, but eventually, I took my gaze off him.
As I stood there staring blankly at the list of cured meats I couldn’t pronounce and had zero interest in, I began to think.
Yeah… I can see the appeal of being able to adjust my underwear freely, even when wearing gym leggings, without worrying who’s watching or judging me.
Can’t say that I see myself doing that until I’m at least 70 though.
Provided I still wear compression leggings. Or wear underwear. Until then, wedgie-proof undies will have to do.
While “he ran out of fucks to give” is quite inspirational and some might find its simplicity even poetic, it’s not the only thing to love about getting older.
Certainly one of the best ones, though!
IT’S NOT ALL PEACHES AND CREAM, BITCHES
Before we get to the good stuff, let’s take a look at some of the things that kinda, sorta suck about getting older, shall we?
- People you hardly know, some you don’t remember ever meeting, thinking (and talking) about your uterus more often than you do.
- Feeling like you’ve failed because you’re not where you’d thought you’d be in life by now.
- Your least favorite auntie ruining what could have been an almost “remember-to-bite-your-tongue”-free moment, as she looks at you holding your infant saying: “Aww, so sweet, she loves her daddy, look at the way she smiles at you, it’s just so swee–… you know, this absolutely random thought just crossed my mind! You turned forty earlier this year, no? So, you’ll be pushing what, sixty by the time she’s off to college?”
- Some very well-meaning acquaintances clutching their pearls, screaming “that’s it!?” when you casually mention your salary while talking about finally landing a new job after the previous one made you so miserable and stressed you thought about gouging your eyes out as you walked in to office building every morning.
- A friend, asking with a smile: “Sooooo…. when are we trying for another one?!” Hmm, I dunno Karen, WE’d want to wait at least until this one learns to latch.
- Being made feel like being single is a bad thing.
- Feeling judged for having to move back with your parents after a setback.
- Being told that “at your age” you shouldn’t *fill-in-the-blank.*
There’s one thing that all those things have in common. Well, two, actually.
- One: I’ve actually been on the receiving end of some of these comments and some I’ve personally witnessed being directed at my friends and family members.
- Two: they’re all based on, or influenced by, other people’s expectations and opinions.
Because, as we all know, people love to talk about your life in a way that suggests that their opinion on the matter, actually matters.
It doesn’t, of course.
Which is not to say that those things don’t ever get on our nerves. Here’s what I can say, from my own experience, will make you like getting older a lot more: unless it directly involves them, pay no attention to other people’s expectations as to how, where and with whom you should live your life. This is honestly the best advice I can give on the topic, so take it, learn to live by it, and feel free to stop reading right here.
…but wait, there’s more!!
Another good rule is to simply not surround yourself with anyone who likes to judge or force their opinions on others. We all know that avoiding certain people isn’t that simple. Maybe they’re a co-worker or your good friend’s partner. There’re also holidays, weddings, summer barbecues- if you have a big family there’s bound to be at least one aunt, uncle or distant cousin who can’t help but be a bit rude and intrusive.
I don’t have a huge family and even I can’t escape some of those comments. Specifically the ones about having kids. I’ve actually been called a “no spring chicken” over the holidays and was told that life without having children is a meaningless one. But what am I gonna do, avoid my dad forever?
While it can be hurtful and even infuriating at times, you can’t let other people’s expectations get to you. You can’t let them freak you out, or make you feel bad about any decisions you’ve made or haven’t yet made. Stupid, intrusive and ignorant comments will happen- hopefully, they’ll be on the sparse side. And even if you’re surrounded by an amazing circle of people, you’re bound to come across one or two who will bring up your age and “fill in the blank here.”
In that case, be you 19, 23, 29 or 35. Do it like the old, dapper man in an Italian deli on a Saturday afternoon. Show off those empty pockets and let them know that you’d love to gift them one, but you’ve recently run out.
WHY I LOVE GETTING OLDER: 7 REASONS GETTING OLDER IS PRETTY GREAT
NOT BEING AFRAID TO SPEAK UP
Well, well, well… would you look at me. An old cow with a withering uterus, using such foul language.
Speaking up might be easy to do today, but it hasn’t always been this way.
While I was definitely not afraid to speak up during my adolescent years, sometimes a bit too much, perhaps, moving all the way across the world at 15 put a stop to it.
My denial about the permanent move being just a “Summer visit with dad” was very strong. Even my mom bringing me to the Board of Education, then taking a tour of the local High School wasn’t enough to convince me that I won’t be going back home. So, once the denial wore off, I fell into depression.
Eventually, obviously, I’ve settled in. But I also went from a rebellious, outspoken, life of a party teen with a huge group of friends, to a quiet, self-conscious girl, who prayed to go unnoticed- especially at school.
At first, it was because I couldn’t even speak English. Then, it was my fear of mispronouncing a word and sounding ridiculous, or worse, someone not understanding me.
My late teens and early twenties? Two words: people pleaser.
One who could easily waste an afternoon away wondering “did the lady at the supermarket think I was rude when I said “no” instead “no, thank you” when she asked if I want those eggs put in a plastic bag?! GOD, I hope she didn’t think I was rude!” The truth is that I suffered from horrible social anxiety. I hated going anywhere alone even more than I hated talking to people. I’d avoid all kinds of confrontation, at all possible costs.
This is why being able to finally speak up means so much to me. Because even in college, having to stop by a supermarket was enough to put me on the verge of an anxiety attack. As I got older, I understood that I had to get over the fear of speaking up for myself. The older I got, the easier it became. There were other things that helped, of course; like working on myself, my anxiety and my self-growth. Getting older gets most of the credit here, though.
I think that eventually, you get a little fed up and with more and more life experiences. You see that you’re going to have to fight for some things in life, and the only way to do it is to speak up for yourself.
When I was younger I couldn’t imagine disagreeing with people out loud. I didn’t want to be seen as rude or disrespectful and I worried about what people thought of me to the point of it being unhealthy.
Today things are different.
Whether it’s someone telling me I’m “no spring chicken,” (be it family or not) or a car salesperson who will not look or speak to me but my husband when I’m shopping for a new car, I’m not afraid to speak up.
It doesn’t mean that I’m rude or short with people, of course.
A smile and simple “Sorry to interrupt, but as we said when we came in, I’m the one who will actually be doing both, driving and paying for the car, not my husband, so maybe you can direct a few of your questions and suggestions to me?” did the trick when neither Mark’s pointing at me, nor him saying “what do you think babe?” whenever the sales guy asked a question, convicted him to even glance in my direction.
The only way to get what you want, need, or to express what you don’t want, need or wish to be subjected to, is to speak up.
Being able to finally speak up, to say “no;” in whatever situation or setting, is an amazing feeling. Especially after years of nodding and quietly listening to random advice I knew I’d never use (like when a kind old lady once told me that my acne looks “just awful” for which she feels very badly for me and that perhaps I should try rubbing urine all over my face, as that’s what helped her when she was young).
YOU’VE BEEN THROUGH SOME THINGS
You’ve probably had to work your way through a shit sandwich or two in your life so far. Maybe you’ve had one of those experiences that rip the heart right out of your chest, making it physically hurt.
I’ve been through things that kept me saying “this isn’t happening, this isn’t happening.” Things where I felt almost as if I’m standing next to myself, watching everything unfold right in front of me. Moments when I felt like I’ve lost everything. Situations that left me feeling hopeless, alone and broken.
Every single one of those tough situations left me thinking “I can’t do this. I can’t take this. This is too much.” So many times, I’ve felt like my life has fallen apart. When one thing after another kept going wrong; where I felt as if I would never be able to pick up the pieces.
But somehow, I’m still here, smiling. Still breathing, heart scarred a little but otherwise doing fine.
You’ve been through some things. Some were situations that seemed life-ending at the time, but you now laugh about (so glad we can laugh about that time I crashed your car into my neighbor’s tree when I was in college, mom!). There were also some trying times, those tougher ones that changed you. Those things show you something you might not always believe or remember- that you are strong. You’re strong enough to get through those shitty times that once left you feeling hopeless. You were strong enough to get through that heartbreak; strong enough to get through school while working full-time; strong enough to get out on your own; strong enough to start over; strong enough to leave that toxic relationship; strong enough to survive a loss.
Tough times might leave some scars behind, but they also leave lessons. Every mistake, every failure, every wrong decision, every situation that didn’t work out as planned- it all always teaches you something new.
YOU REALIZE THAT YOU’RE THE ONE IN CHARGE
If you don’t yet have a friend who has no problem being brutally honest with you when you need an occasional slap in the face, find one.
I once had a friend tell me something that felt just like that. A slap in a face. At that particular time, I will admit it, I kinda needed one. And it ended up changing my life.
“No one is coming to save you.”
I’ve spent years blaming other people for my circumstances, trying to justify things not going well. If anything ever went wrong, it was never my fault. Excuse after excuse, I was stuck in that never-ending negative thought pattern, until I heard those words.
No one is coming to save you.
A much-needed eye-opener that showed me that if I don’t like something about my life, I’m the only one who can do something to change it. And you can’t do that very well if you always stand in your own way. You can’t say that you want one thing, but say something different through your attitude and actions.
In life, things sometimes spin out of control. Maybe there are days when you open your eyes in the morning, wishing you could shut them again and stay in bed for at least a week.
People will disappoint you.
Not everything will always go your way.
Despite all that, you are in complete charge of your life. You are in charge of your attitude, your feelings, your actions. Where you are right now may not be a place where you thought you’d be, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t go where you want to be. And this is another reason why I love getting older: I finally realize that I’m the one in charge.
To put things into perspective, and since we’re talking about getting old and why you should love getting older, think back to one of the first things you’ve ever accomplished. Think all the way back to the time when you were just a pudgy, tiny little toddler. You were probably a cute one too- most of them are.
You’re trying to learn how to walk.
You stand up.
Maybe you take a step or two.
And you fall down.
Then you stand up.
Take a few steps. Fall down.
Countless times during the day.
You kept falling, yet it never occurred to you to stop trying.
Then you learned how to walk, started getting into kitchen cabinets, the toilet, climbing furniture, gave your mom a heart attack once or twice, made your parents rethink the whole “we want three kids” thing, and that’s why you’re an only child.
You may not have control over other people’s actions and things that bring you down sometimes- but you can control how you react to shit that happens to you. You can let it stick and carry it with you, or you can let it go.
YOU KNOW HOW PRECIOUS YOUR TIME IS
Another reason why I love getting older is that I have zero time and patience for bullshit. Ohhh, the time I’ve wasted worrying about things that never actually happened, stressed about shit that, now that I’m older, seems so ridiculous and insignificant.
When you get older you see and can appreciate, that some things are more important than others. The relationships in your life become more meaningful; you now know that a handful of very close friends means more than tens of friends you’re only sorta, kinda close with. No time or energy for toxic friendships and dysfunctional relationships. And, finally, you know that your time is too precious to waste it on comparing your life to someone else’s.
Life will always happen and we’ll continue to get angry, we’ll continue to fight and get upset at times- those too, are just parts of our life. But we’ll also love stronger, hold tighter, kiss softer, laugh louder.
YOU STOP WORRYING ABOUT “HAVING IT ALL FIGURED OUT”
Growing up, and even all the way through the first year of college, I thought that once you become a full-on adult with a nice job and a mortgage, you’re done figuring shit out. You can put your feet up, sit back, and relax. Time would go by and I’d get frustrated and ask myself “well, where’s my matching velvet glider and ottoman at?“
Ahh, to be young and naive.
I might have been in for a surprise, but is not having everything figured out really a bad thing? I hear my friends, both older and younger than me, say that they feel lost and frustrated, just as I do, all the time.
We still laugh all the time.
We still find joy in trying new things.
We still love making big plans and setting goals for ourselves.
We each don’t stop learning new things about ourselves.
We still love getting older.
And we still have days when we feel like we have no idea what we’re doing. Because no one has it all figured out and no one has their shit together all the time. Like, no. It’s not a thing. Period.
I didn’t truly feel comfortable in my own skin until I was about 27. That was probably one of the first times when I felt that I really love getting older. The funny thing is that I’ve gotten into the best shape in my life when I stopped focusing so much on the way I looked.
My life was suddenly filled with so much passion, self-growth, and gratitude, that I had no time to analyze every flyaway hair, every bump on my face or every pound on the scale like I once used to.
My confidence took a huge hit after I injured my back shortly after my 28th birthday. No more rigorous workouts, no time or energy to cook and prep every single meal from scratch, weight gain from antidepressants, the lack of sleep, constant stress. I thought that once I get back in shape, I will feel like myself again and rediscover that confidence.
Well, I did get back in shape, maybe I didn’t feel as strong and fit as before, but my favorite clothes fit me nicely again and I thought that was good enough. The thing that I discovered was that my confidence didn’t come from being in great shape. It came from being independent, from working, making money, doing what I love, feeling strong physically and mentally. I wanted that confidence when I was younger, but I was focusing on all the wrong things. When you feel truly happy and fulfilled, when you cut all the negative bullshit from your life and focus on gratitude, it all shows on the outside, too.
Not about the things that you should be apologizing for. But for small, stupid things.
“Sorry” used to be a word I used to say a lot. Like, tens of times a day. At work, with friends, family, in line at the supermarket, no place was a bad place to say sorry.
“Sorry to bother you.”
“Sorry I didn’t reply to your text sooner.”
“Sorry I don’t feel like going out tonight.”
“Sorry, I don’t know.”
“Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.”
“Sorry to interrupt.”
I put a stop to it around the same time I found my confidence. It might have been while working on one of my journaling prompts when I realized that not only does the word “sorry” lose its meaning and simply starts to sound insincere when I use it that often, but that I was also expressing a whole lot of self-doubt and lack of confidence by saying it so much. Not to mention that I didn’t need to insert my “apology” into most of those interactions and conversations. You don’t need to apologize for stupid shit hundreds of times a day- and it took my love getting older to see that.
Yes, I know it’s a lame thing to say, but to love getting older you have to remember that age really is just a number. Yes, there are some aspects of life where age can limit us, but you don’t have to live your life according to some invisible timeline. You don’t have to be intimidated by those milestone birthdays.
I’ve always thought that once I reach a certain age I will be an entirely different person. I won’t like the same things, I’ll stop telling jokes that make people go “would you like some wine with that cheese?” or stop acting silly when I’m out in public with a friend. But, for the most part, I see myself as the same person as I was at 15. Sure, I’ve changed in many ways, but I’m also still the same; I have the same spirit, the same sense of humor.
My 30th birthday hasn’t turned out to be a huge milestone I thought it’d be. I know that it’s because my life has pretty much been on hold for the past two and a half years. Everything turned upside down and I am nowhere close to where I thought I’d be at 30. But I’m cool with that- the invisible timeline and all. And that is not something I would be able to say at 25.
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