There is no doubt I have lamented the aging process. Having small children reminds me of how much energy I don’t have anymore. And being a teacher of early high school students reminds me of how uncool I am. These kids don’t even use the word “cool” anymore.
I am much nearer to 40 than I am to 20 (and to 30, for that matter). I had never pictured myself at this age. It’s kinda weird.
But, here are some realities I have come to understand about the aging process:
- My body is older than my mind. When I see a long hallway, I still want to do cartwheels all the way down. I don’t, however, because I’d have to stretch for a half an hour beforehand and then take a bottle of Advil afterward.
- My concept of time has shifted dramatically. The concept of “a long time ago” has changed quite a bit. I remember when Friends first came on the air. It doesn’t seem that long ago. It was 20 years ago, though.
- My concept of “young” has shifted, too. I once cried when I turned 24 because I felt so OLD. Now, I work with people who have advanced degrees but are not old enough to remember the Challenger explosion.
- I feel less grossed-out by plastic surgery. I once wondered why people didn’t just “grow old gracefully.” Now, I sit in front of a mirror and pull my face up manually and sigh as I wonder what it would cost for a nip and a tuck.
- I actually care what I eat. In high school, I came home almost every day and ate an entire family-sized back of potato chips (or an equivalently-sized snack of another type). I wore a size 6 that my mother tailored smaller through the hips for me. Now, I still love my potato chips, but each crunch comes with a side order of guilt, self-loathing and fourteen more pounds on the bathroom scale.
- Nobody likes my music. Two decades ago it wouldn’t have been hard to find someone who liked The Pixies, LL Cool J, Blondie, Nine Inch Nails, and who knew how to do “The Hustle” and understood that you were never supposed to “trust a big butt and a smile.” Nowadays, we’re harder to locate. Some of us came to enjoy modern music. Some are stuck with the soundtrack to “Frozen” on repeat. Some people switched over to “Adult Contemporary.” Yeesh.
- I’m okay (for now) with my glowing pale legs. This time of year in my twenties, I was running to a tanning salon on rainy days and spending every damn minute outside to alter the color of my skin when it was sunny. Nowadays, I don’t really have the time or the patience. So, I just revel for now in the idea that I am staying away from skin cancer and/or wrinkles for one more day.
- I don’t feel old. This one is weird. I don’t know what old is supposed to feel like. I mean, I feel weaker and slower and fatter and more tired. But, those things don’t alone signify an elderly status. Are my knees supposed to ache when it rains? Am I supposed to forget what day of the week it is? Am I supposed to wear white button-down sweaters on 80 degree days? I am not sure if I am doing this right.
- I still feel like I am in high school — emotionally. When all the stay-at-home moms gather to pick up their kids in their Lululemon or their Hunter rain boots and their big diamond earrings — and completely ignore the existence of those outside of their social circle, I remember feeling like this before: for four straight years.
I still want to learn how to surf and speak a foreign language and read more books and run a 5k (no — actually RUN it this time — like, the whole time) and get a PhD. and a six-pack and a nose-piercing.
And I wonder if I will do any of those things. Or even if I should…