I’m getting old.
Some days I wonder: how is it that I’m already in my twenties? I remember being a child. My only concern was to finish my homework and go play with the neighbor kids.
Now I’m here. When did this happen?
When people say they’re getting old, it’s in this tone of voice that suggests they’d rather jump off a cliff than add another year to their age. They see getting old as this awful, yet inevitable fact of life.
Is getting old all that bad?
It would be horrible, being a kid forever. Being subject to the whims of the adults, never quite being able to do everything you wanted? Having to stick to your bedtime and being ordered to go to bed when you were watching a really nice cartoon? It sucks.
How about being a teenager for eternity? shudder The teenage period is the worst time to be a human being. It’s a continuously heightened state of hormones. Not understanding why you’re feeling crazy and acting out is terrible. Having no idea what’s going on in your mind and body is so overwhelming. It’s a terrible place to be stuck in forever.
Young adults don’t have it so rosy either. Sure, the freedom adulthood brings is great. Here’s the rub: Freedom comes at a cost. The loss of innocence is a price I paid, that I wish I could take back. When I’m around kids, I wonder at how magical everything seems to them, how easily they believe folk tales. When I was a kid, I spent hours before bedtime listening to my aunt’s intricate folk stories. I miss that.
There are other more tangible costs, like the cost of living. Adult level can take years to attain, but young people are under so much pressure to do it all at once. Get a job. Get an apartment. Pay the bills. Get married. Have kids. Can a person catch their breath?
With all these, middle age seems like the perfect time, doesn’t it? No school, the pressure has eased off, everything is nice and easy. Except… Not really. Middle-aged people have kids to clothe and feed, possibly younger relatives to support, and aging parents to look after. They have jobs, which they have to be good at, to take care of all those people leaning on them. Middle-aged people just want their kids to grow older and stop depending on them as much, so they can finally retire. It’s a really stressful place to be in.
Retirement age is the sweet spot! No more 9 to 5 grind. The kids are adults, and out in the world. Their parents are settled nicely in the country (or dead). All they have to do is wake up, putter about, cook, eat, nap, wake up and do it all again. BUT. This is the time that chronic age-related illnesses rear their heads.
Suddenly, they’re having aches and pains in places they didn’t realize it was possible to ache. They have heartburn when they eat too much. They pee five times after drinking a glass of wine. Most unjust of all, they don’t sleep as often as they used to. They lie awake in bed, thinking about all those nights they didn’t sleep because they had to work, and how it is that now when they can sleep, the sleep just won’t come.
Life sucks, and then you die.
Every stage of life has its challenges. People who want to be teenagers or young adults forever have forgotten how confusing everything was at that stage. If you complain about getting old, what horrible phase of life would you choose to be stuck at?
Getting old is not the problem. It’s not like we can do anything about it, so why stress over it? The point of life is to learn what we’re supposed to learn at each stage, and have all the fun we can while doing it.
What do you think about getting old? If you had to choose one stage of life to be stuck in forever, which would it be? Share your thoughts in the comments.
(Don’t forget to subscribe in the pop-up boxes!)