Why Are We So Afraid to Grow Old?

After all, people do know that the alternative to growing old is to die young, right? Personally, I’d prefer OLD, OLD, OLD to DEAD, DEAD, DEAD any day of the week.

Now, of course, most people don’t object to being alive – it’s a host of old-related problems that we’re worried about: health, money, our physical attributes and abilities deteriorating, mental acuity fading, etc. No one wants to be SICK and old or FRAIL and old, or what have you. However, in general, I don’t think anyone wants to be sick or frail at any age – it’s just that we associate these infirmities mostly with the elderly.

It might also be that I’m not really old yet. I’m turning thirty-five in a few weeks and then, I will be able to run for any office in the US. (Thanks, parents, for having the foresight to have me in the US! Sorry to everyone else should I ever go temporarily insane and run for public office.) Plus, I’m in a new age demographic! Go, me! My thirties have been awesome so far, so I don’t really expect the latter half of this decade to be any different. Nor do I expect any of the upcoming decades to be so bad, either.

It’s weird to be at an age you distinctly recall your parents being. It’s also weird being at an age where ten years ago, I would’ve considered middle-aged! (I certainly don’t consider myself middle-aged. After all, who wants to die at 70? Middle-aged should be 45-50, right? We’re all gonna live til we’re 100!)

But you know what’s not weird? Being older than I was before.

I pity people who mock me or tease me about being “old” (because they are young, foolish, and have LITTLE TO NO INDEPENDENT INCOME). I LOVE being the age that I am. What did I know when I was a teenager? Or when I was in my twenties? (Come to think of it, I will likely look back in a few years and think, “What did I know when I was in my thirties? I was such a baby!”)

When I think back to myself in my late teens and early twenties, all I want to do is go back in time and punch myself in the throat. Why? Because I was such an asshat. So full of self-righteous indignation, trembling in my sincerity to “do good” but having no means or skills with which to do anything, and thinking that being young, smart, and full of potential was enough. That “passion” was more important than money or stability or pretty much, anything.

BAH!! Get off my lawn, you stupid kid! It’s easy to have the luxury of such thinking when your parents subsidize your educational and living expenses.

Don’t get me wrong. I think passion is important. Doing good, also, important. But you know what? Money is a lot more important than I ever realized. (This will be a post for another day, but truly, only a person who was coddled, spoiled, rich and wealthy and super-privileged such as myself would ever think that money was NOT important.) Stability and practicality – also vital!

Ok, I suppose I’m being rather harsh with my younger self. After all, if I didn’t go through what I did, I wouldn’t be the Me that I am today. (Which is awesome.) And if anything had changed – likely, I would not be married to Hapa Papa with my awesome kids. I’d have a different set of awesome kids, perhaps – but just thinking about that and how time travel would affect my current timeline and perhaps erase my current beautiful life and children nearly reduces me to tears so it’s just as well that time travel is impossible (that we know of for NOW – dun dun dun!!!) because nothing’s sadder than a huge, pregnant lady crying about fictional things that are currently not possible and as of yet, have not happened – and if it did, WOULD NEVER KNOW.

Sorry. Tangent.

What was this post supposed to be about? Right. Growing OLD.

Truthfully, I suspect that I will always think that the age at which I am currently is the norm and not OLD. Surely, that is a moniker reserved for OTHER people. Not people such as myself! And when I am truly, actually old (like 70 or 80 or 90+), then really, the problem will be that everyone else is simply far too YOUNG.

Also, from here on out, I declare that we use the “er” method that Hapa Papa often employs to get out of trouble. Instead of telling me I’m “stupid,” he says, I’m getting “stupider.” Good thing I find this hilarious so he usually skirts out of trouble this way. So, really, we’re not all getting old. We’re getting older – which is totally and absolutely fact without judgment or baggage.

Anyhow, I meant this post to actually celebrate being older. I don’t know how I diverged into ranting. (Though truth be told, is anyone surprised that I started ranting?) So, in no particular order, not all-inclusive, (and obviously, YMMV since not everyone is me, nor in my privileged state), why I love getting older:

– Greater purchasing power
– Being more sure of myself, who I am, and what I am doing
– Wisdom (accumulated through lots of failure)
– Not being afraid to speak my mind (still working on this, but for the most part, pretty good)
– Savings
– Security
– Stability (in both life circumstances as well as emotional maturity)
– Freedom from following fads and trends
– Long time friends
– Making new friends
– Pursuing things that actually interest me vs. pursuing things that I think should interest me
– COSTCO (I thought I liked Costco when I was younger, but truly, now that I’m older, it is MY FAVORITE PLACE TO BE BESIDES MY OWN HOME)
– Freedom to stay at home
– Freedom to NOT drink (being constantly pregnant and breastfeeding also helps)
– Watching my friends grow into who they are
– Realizing that I can watch most things without consequence (I don’t really ever have to think about ratings or whatever as long as my kids aren’t involved)
– Actually enjoying being informed (vs glorying in my total ignorance and being proud of that fact when I was younger)
– Not driving around for hours just to find free parking
– Being able to afford luxuries such as concert tickets, massages, pedicures, etc without thinking overly much about it
– Being in a good place (emotionally, financially, and physically) to raise children
– Minivans are awesome and it’s ok
– Not having to ask permission (but often, having to ask for forgiveness – I guess humility is good, too)
– Learning to let things go and be more flexible
– Freedom to be a curmudgeon and blame it on age

I’m sure there are scads more in benefits, but even while making the list, I realize that I presume a lot about aging – that it brings more financial security and freedom. Obviously, that is not the case for many people (or even most people). So clearly, my list reflects that bias. Since I have no adequate response for that, I will just leave you with my favorite line from Fried Green Tomatoes. “Face it, girls, I’m older and I have more insurance.”

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