When you walk into a drug store, you will often see a wall of greeting cards with a special section dedicated to “over the hill” cards. Poking fun at aging has been a long enjoyed tradition in our culture, especially enjoyed when the recipient of the joke is older than ourselves! As we have begun a new decade, it’s hard not to reflect on the passage of time and remembering the experiences of our past. This reflection is exactly what has prompted me to dedicate this blog post in appreciation of aging and how I plan to use this wisdom to guide me during the upcoming decade.
We no longer have to wait or wonder what our future will be when we "grow up".
I vividly remember having a moment during my thirties when I realized I was no longer waiting for my future to unfold, I was actually living in it. I think this was my first experience with mindfulness even though I didn’t quite have the words for it back then. When we are children, we are encouraged to think about future and what we want to be when we grow up. Will we get married or have children? What kind of house will we live in? We know our adult life is going to be different but there is an uncertainty that follows us as we make the decisions that will begin to shape our adulthood. Of course, we will continue to make decisions throughout our lifetime but generally by the time we are in the mid-phase of our life, our path becomes a little clearer or more familiar. If we do need to go in a different direction, we have more life experiences to guide us. One of the things I value most in middle age is that I have so much life experience already within me. And I intend to use it to my full advantage in 2020!
Being different is no longer a curse, it is something we are more apt to seek and notice.
Every generation has its own trends and behaviours. This becomes part of the branding of the cohort that begins to shape our identities. As a child of the eighties, I remember Far West jackets, brightly coloured slouch socks, oversized sweatshirts and crimped or permed hair as being the dress code of our decade. And fitting in meant subscribing to at least some, if not all of these trends (I’d include a picture of my own big, permed head of hair but I am afraid you’d never look at me the same way). There was always some kids who couldn’t or wouldn’t participate – and kudos to them! – but in our younger years, generally we tend to want to blend in, do what our peers expect us to do and keep negative attention off ourselves. In my forties, I am much more comfortable doing what feels right for me. My self-worth has become more intrinsic and less dependent upon the opinions of others. I can now wear comfortable yet unfashionable shoes with pride as I know I will feel better at the end of the day than if I had suffered for a more fashionable choice (not that there is anything wrong with fashionable shoes – we all get to chose our discomforts!).
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is replaced with FOMN (Fear of Missing Nothing)
I don’t think I am alone in experiencing this shift as I age. There was a time in my life when it would have been devastating to miss a big party or social event. I used to get irritated when my work schedule or lack of funds got in the way of being able to follow the crowd. I can recall heading to an early morning work shift after being out much too late and being exhausted all day. But it was worth it because I didn’t have to miss whatever event everyone would be talking about the next day! I don’t think there was anything worse in my twenties than having friends reminisce about a party that I had missed. Fast forward twenty-five years and I can appreciate the tales of others, without having to have been there myself. Age and experience has taught me that a good night’s sleep gives me so much more than a late night party. I also feel less compelled to be part of everything. I gauge my activities based on my personal needs, not what everybody is else is doing. Being able to independently recognize when rest or recuperation is necessary is another gift of aging. I can still lose focus at times but I am giving this idea more careful attention heading into the new year.
We become more appreciative of what our bodies can do for us.
This one is a double edged sword because sometimes I do miss my younger body. Once I entered my forties, I experienced a few key changes. I started losing my ability to see close. Although I have always worn glasses to see, I prided myself at being able to read/see close for a very long time. And all of a sudden, everything was a blur! Then I experienced back pain while doing very mundane tasks – like bending to put pots away once landed me in bed for a couple of days! I have always enjoyed being a physically active person but sort of took my body for granted. When you are young and limber, you expect it will last forever…until it doesn’t. So as I have gotten older, I’m actually more in awe of my physical body and what it does for me. I appreciate that I have sore feet because I have walked so many miles. A sore back is just a reminder that I need to tend to my physical a little more carefully. Aging just reminds me not to take my physical health for granted and I don’t think I could have fully received that message when I was younger.
Although some of us would prefer to slow the hands of time, I am choosing to celebrate the gifts that aging has given to me, especially as I enter the next decade of my life. How has aging impacted you? Would you go back to an earlier time in your life if you could? Leave some comments and let me know!