I saw (and shared) a meme on Facebook yesterday that said, “The sad thing about getting old is, you stay young on the inside, but nobody can tell anymore.”
Lots of “heck yeahs” from the peeps who are older on the outside but still feel young on the inside. (My younger peeps always say, “You’re only as old as you feel.” That’s a mixed blessing. On any given day, I can feel five or one hundred and five. Lol)
This was not something I understood way back when. I think I thought the journey to getting old would be this thing that you feel inside and out, that you’d process the change and know when you reached “old.”
Of course, I also thought I’d “know” when I was all grownup. That I’d feel different, I’d feel adult.
I didn’t expect to, well, feel the same.
Oh, not the same as when I was a kid, but when I matured enough to know that maturity was something to aim for, I thought maturity would feel…mature.
For most of my life, I’ve felt like this fraud, a fake adult that would somehow get found out if I didn’t bluff really well. And while I was bluffing, out there pretending to be all grown up, the years have rolled by and I still haven’t reached the station called “grown up.”
I hit thirty and asked my mom when I’d know I was a grownup. She told me she’d let me know (which she hasn’t yet, despite passing her eightieth a few years back!).
I hit forty. I felt more comfortable in my own skin. Quit caring so much about being perceived as an adult, but I still didn’t feel like I’d arrived at adult.
I hit fifty. That was sobering. I’d lived half a century. And, no, still not there yet. (In fact, felt a bit set back when I think about it because “are we there yet?” is such a kid thing to say!). Honestly, I didn’t feel fifty. I felt…surprised.
And then, last year I hit sixty. That’s a big number. A really big number. It’s not that I expected to die before I reached it (though according to Goodreads, I died in 1999), but I was sure that when I reached that big of a number, I’d finally FEEL it. I didn’t know what it would feel like, but I’d FEEL sixty, I’d FEEL old. I”d KNOW…something. I’d be all wise, so old wouldn’t matter.
I wasn’t as surprised when none of that happened. I’d started to figure out that our bodies age on the surface, and yes, inside it’s all coming apart, but our minds, well, that’s where who we are resides (hides?). What changes is our perception of aging. We don’t suddenly feel old. Instead we finally understand we’re probably not ever going to FEEL it the way we thought we would. That it has happened both faster—and slower—than expected. And that it is nothing, NOTHING like we thought it would be. And that we didn’t really know what we thought it would be either.
I’ve also come to understand that no one could have told me what this is like. It’s like falling in love, or becoming a parent, or reaching your dearest most distantly desired goal. You can’t explain it to someone. It has to be lived, experienced for a sort of understanding to happen (and even then…yeah, still floundering a bit).
We can face aging. We can avoid thinking about it. We can flail about. We can do things to make our outsides match how we feel inside our heads (though personally I’m embracing the crumbling exterior. I EARNED those wrinkles and gray hairs and sagging…stuff. I survived this far and by dang, I’m both proud and amazed by that.).
We can fight the fight (good or bad), but we’ll all end up in the same place: old. And eventually dead. (Or you can call it “reaching our end date” if that makes you feel better.)
That end date doesn’t scare me like it used to. The trip there is a bit scary because I’m not in charge of the speed of the descent, or the bumpiness of the ride. All I can do is hang on and think, “Holy crap.”
My dad turned 89 this month. This photo reminds me that we all start in the same place and we all progress toward our “end date.” We can enjoy the journey and let ourselves experience all the stages in all their, um, glory.
I can’t say I’m over turning sixty. lol And I probably haven’t learned the “right” things from my journey through this life. Or maybe I have. (I’m pretty sure I think too much!) lol
What do you think? Where are you in your journey? Got any expectations? Still have illusions?
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