Growing up it seems like anyone older than you, even slightly, reminded you to live in the moment and not wish your youth away. Every birthday card was signed with a message consisting of “life goes faster than you think”. Though on the contrary, and speaking from experience, in your youth all you want to do is be older than the age you are.
When you’re in Kindergarten you can’t wait to be in the fifth grade, top dog of the school.
When you’re in middle school, you can’t wait until you start high school.
When you are 15 you can’t wait to turn 16 and receive your drivers license. |
Then you turn 16, get your driver’s license, and you can’t wait to be 18 and considered an ‘adult’.
You’re in high school and you can’t wait to be a ‘fake adult’ with total freedom in college.
You start college and you can’t wait to be 21.
You’re 21 and you can’t wait to graduate college and start your career.
Brooke and I at my High School Graduation (Thinking of being at FSU!)
Now I sit here at an early 24 and wish I took the advice of my elders, because life really does go faster than you think. Why is that? I know it’s not solely because of the saying ‘time flies when you are having fun’. As optimistic as I like to be, not all 24 years of my life thus far fall under the category of “fun”. However, through honest conversations and research I know my fear (for a lack of better words) of getting old is not an unpopular opinion. In a few descriptive words, I think my apprehension for growing older comes from separation anxiety, the level of responsibility, vanity, and change.
If you are blessed, as I was, you grow up living with your parents (or a parent) until it is time to move out for college or to start a different journey. If you’re like me, you grew up with a dad, mom, and two sisters who went from three sharing a room to each of us having our own. Which, at the time, was a plus of wanting to grow up when young, but a downfall once you grow up and realize you no longer have that comfort of living with the same people you have always lived with. If my life keeps going the way it’s going, I will never live with my parents and/or siblings again. That security blanket and comfort of youth was completely ripped off, leading to the separation anxiety of not being around the people I have always been around. To make the fear of growing old even worse, upon moving out 2 months ago, I came to the realization that my parents are getting older, too. That realization hit me like a ton of bricks. My separation anxiety from them not being a room away anymore is only miniscule to the separation anxiety I have when I think about them being gone one day. Of course, there are incredible things awaiting me in the future, but the feelings of nostalgia that will further deepen as the years go on is what causes my fear.
So, what? The older you get the more you have to lose? The older you get the less innocence you have? The older you get the more you rely on memories? The older you get the more you talk about the ‘good old days’? The older you get the more you have to miss?
The questions I could ask are endless as are the varying responses, but it doesn’t end there. The anxiety of everything around me gradually changing and the inevitable, harsh fact that those around me now will not be around me in future are my biggest reasons for my fear of growing old. Are they my only fears? No.
Young and careless with family members who are no longer with me!
Imagine its third grade again. After a long, but fun day at school you go home and play until dinner time. You play outside, with your imagination, with dolls, etc. Fast forward to high school… your responsibility may increase to extracurriculars and studying, but the responsibility of paying bills, insurance, and taking care of your body does not fall into play (for most people that age). Even college is filled with fake responsibilities, with the wages covered by your elders or a small, part-time job. It’s not until after college, that every responsibility falls into your lap at the same time. Car insurance, rent, grocery bills, phone bills, cooking, eating healthy, gas bills, working a 9-5 to pay said bills, and the endless other obligations one must handle. And why is it that as the adult burdens develop, the changes in traditions begin? If you read my blog, you know I am not a huge fan of change, but I am a huge fan of traditions. The older you get, the busier you are, the more responsibility you have, and the less time you have to keep old traditions alive. Growing up, we attended Church for Easter every year followed by an Easter-Egg hunt at my aunts house with my eight other cousins. We’d get all dressed-up in pastel, hunt for eggs, trade candy at the end, and just play with each other. This year, we will have a nice Ham dinner at my cousins house, with half of the original attendees spread throughout the Country.
I don’t mean to be all poor-me, but I think the angst behind growing older should be normalized. In discussions about aging, I have noticed that people all seem to agree on the beauty standards. Every time someone my age thinks about when they will see their first wrinkle, they just mention botox and surgeries to maintain the look of youth. When you age, fine lines appear first and wrinkles, a loss of volume and a loss of elasticity become noticeable over time. The process of aging, especially as a women, should be a beautiful thing. So why is it, that I scrub and pluck, drag myself to the gym, and have a 10-minute daily skin routine with the plan for a botox party as soon as I turn 30? And the scariest part? I am not alone! America has made vanity a personality trait over the years, and until that changes, I will worry about losing my youth both in beauty and in health.
As I write this, I realize how negative the tone of this blog is. I guess as positive of a person as I try to be, I haven’t been able to get comfortable with aging enough yet to put a positive spin on it. I realize to be happy, I can not live in the nostalgic past, letting life pass-by in front of me. I do not want to wake up one day when i’m 80 and feel like my life has been filled with anxiety of turning 80. So, I guess I should in this blog in the only way I know how, an inspiring quote from a heroic character. In the wise-words of Andy Bernard “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”