Silence. Agony. Fear.
Aging is an interesting topic.
You might be at a point in your life where you seem “too young” and feel the need to amplify your age. Conversely, you might be at a point in your life where you seem “too old” and feel the need to downplay your age.
Society can be cruel. The media, co-workers, family, friends, peers, strangers even; all send different messaging our way that tell us to be cautious because there’s a right age to get married, a right age to have children, a right age to start college/grad school, a right age to get into a specific career path, a right age to do this and that and whatever else.
I’d be lying if I said I don’t think about my age. The thought crosses my mind from time to time. With that being said, anyone telling you that age means everything and your life should revolve around it is spewing a lie. I’ve spent the most recent years of my life unlearning the lies and false stories I subscribed to in my younger years – one being that my age is meant to be a source of fear or worry. No sir. No ma’am. I’d like to think I’ve come a long way when it comes to accepting and embracing my age. And so, I’m sharing 4 things the wise ones I’ve encountered (those who’ve found the way to age gracefully with excitement) have taught me about embracing my life, at any age.
Stop counting your birthdays. In other words, stop dreading the weeks, hours, minutes, and seconds as the annual anniversary of your day of birth draws near. Let the day come and pass. Celebrate the day as silently or loudly as you would celebrate any other day. Eat and drink as well as you would any other day. Enjoy good company and laugh as loudly as you would any other day. Be productive and throw yourself into passionate and creative ventures as you would any other day. Don’t treat your birthday as a day different from any other day; wake up, be grateful, embrace it wholeheartedly, and smile.
Freely tell people your age. You have earned every year added to your life. Each year has brought with it unique laughs, happiness, and tears. Cherish the opportunity you’ve been gifted to have experienced them all -- not everyone gets the chance to get to your age and say the same. Don’t allow a number to hold you captive in fear. It is no way to live. When people ask your age, you don’t have to lie. Feel at ease telling them your rightfully acquired age. Granted, you don’t have to drop the number to every last Tom, Dick, Janet, and Harriet that asks but you also don’t have to shudder in terror when someone asks, “and how old are you?”
Stop pitting yourself against old photos. There is nothing to gain in comparing yourself to your old photos from 1996. We are in 2016. That time has come and gone. Yes, you might have felt youthful and vibrant then. That does not keep you from also feeling youthful and vibrant now. The options are endless – maintaining a balanced & nutritious diet, getting constant physical exercise (I’d be lying if I said I don’t still have ways to go in this department), nurturing a joyful and forgiving spirit within (trust and believe, bitterness ages people harshly), etc. Now I’m not saying put all your old photos in a box and light them on fire; that would be silly -- they are a significant part of your memories. With that being said, curling up in bed looking at old photos of yourself and crying because your facial/physical look has changed is also not the way to go – at least, I think.
Tell yourself a different story. Most people believe their best years are in their 20s. That’s probably because they’ve been told so by those who live in lamentation of the 20s they’ve “lost”. If you choose to accept that story, then you will likely go the rest of your life dreading the coming years and constantly wishing you could relive the past. I have decided to go with another story. As far as I am concerned, my best years are just beginning. My 20s were full of conflict, confusion, and misery. Those were not my best years – I refuse to accept that. I am 29-going-on-30 this year. I am excited about my 30s. I am excited about my 40s. I am excited about my future and no “aging is bad” story will stop me from enjoying the greatness that is to come with those forthcoming years. Trust and believe, you’re also allowed to do the same.
And there you have it – 4 ways to own your age and fully embrace your life. I’m not perfect at practicing these. Some days I fail. Some days I let thoughts of my age stir up unwarranted fears and worries. The good news however is that those days are fewer and far-between in my life now compared to how frequent they were in my life 5, 6, 7 years ago. And that dear folks is what I call “progress”.
Hopefully this post can prove to be helpful towards your aging progress too :)