photo of my grandma
…except my grandma. I don’t think she ever thought about it. She was too busy living.

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.

me, my sister and my other grandma
I’m the taller one. Wasn’t worried about getting old then.

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!).

me and my mom
Me and my mom. Trying to remember how I old I was when I had that sweater. (They say the memory…)

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.”

me and my dad
Yeah, we both looked young and now we don’t.

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?

I love comments so much that I pick a favorite to receive my monthly AnaBanana gift basket ($25 value).  Recipient is announced the first blog post of the new month.

Perilously yours,

Pauline

P.S. In between figuring out this aging thing, I worked with AnaBanana to get One Two Punch into print!

cover for one two punch

Oh, This Getting Old…
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13 thoughts on “Oh, This Getting Old…

  • March 1, 2016 at 5:38 pm
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    Perfectly said….or, rather, written, Pauline. I feel the same way. I didn’t have any issues with the big 0 birthdays–3-0h, 4-0h, 5-0h. But 6-0h nearly two years ago was a huge shock. As is the mirror in the morning. I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around it all.

    I’m surprised by changes that come with age–aches & pains, sagging skin (everywhere!), “sun spots”, worn-out joints. But I try to channel my amazing mother-in-law who adamantly refused to acknowledge her age — or anyone else’s– beyond 21. (Seriously!) It certainly worked for her. She had an amazing positive attitude toward life. She showed my grandkids how to do a cartwheel when she was in her 60s!

    As a writer, I am more concerned about keeping my writing fresh and ageless. I have become acutely aware of an author’s age in the subtle “tells” in his/her writing.

    • March 1, 2016 at 9:10 pm
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      Oh my heck yes, the sagging everything! I am impressed your mom could do cartwheels! I would dare put my sagging stuff in motion like that. Hahaha! And yes, that is my goal, too: keeping the writing fresh and moving forward. So glad you stopped by!

  • March 1, 2016 at 2:48 pm
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    This has cleared up something I have wondered about all my life. It is, “Why do old people refer to people older than themselves as old and never apply it to themselves”? And of course all these people are older than me! Hah!
    Just turned 56 and it is a jolt. There is just no ignoring this aging thing any longer. The old guy in the mirror freaks me out. The kids around here act as though I am old. This roller coaster ride is just going way too damn fast! Dang!
    Not sure when I got the adult thing, not very long ago, probably. It has been a long drawn out process and I have worked hard at it. It has been incremental… really.
    As you know, children are pretty much self-centered, and that’s the way it is supposed to be. They out grow that eventually in a natural, seamless fashion. Mostly. I guess, I really wouldn’t know. I took up drinking as my main hobby and it turns out I am allergic to grog. When you are allergic and continue partake it produces an addiction. And addictions are addictions and they are not pretty and one of the main side effects is it has stopped emotional growth dead in its tracks. A couple of years after stopping(30) I know I am back where I started at 14. Humbling!
    In many ways the kids and I have grown up together. And I have associated with many others, there is a whole clan of us. It is a giant extended family. We have learned to love and to be loved. It has been a mind blowing trip. Certainly crazier than anything I could have dreamed up in my imagination.
    I guess my life has been about holding it together and getting us grown up while trying to accept and deal with my illnesses. And that has pretty much been accomplished. Now I take a breath and look around see this old old creature looking back at me from my mirror! Gawd, what a trip.
    No regrets really, didn’t do a very good job but it was the best I could do.

    • March 1, 2016 at 9:08 pm
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      Life is full of ups and downs and learning. Thankfully you’ve lived long enough to learn stuff. LOL And that mirror is brutal! LOL Thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂

  • March 1, 2016 at 7:23 am
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    Saw that meme on FB and thought the same thing. The days are going by too quickly and I still have lots to do. I guess the only thing we can do is live life to its fullest. Not putting off things. Yeah, the mirror thing can really get you. I see my mom or grandmother looking back at me and wonder what happened. LOL

    • March 1, 2016 at 8:55 am
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      Yeah, I sometimes think vampires have a sweet deal, not being able to see themselves in mirrors. LOL And yes, all we can do is go forward and do the best we can with the life we have left. A wise man recently said that as we age, we need to focus on doing less, but do it better. So trying to find the sweet spot between what I still want to do and what I am physically able to do. And of course, being a writer I think about it WAY too much. LOL

  • February 29, 2016 at 7:19 pm
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    not sure

  • February 29, 2016 at 4:29 pm
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    Thoughtful, and good for me to learn. I started thinking of myself as a “real adult” in my mid-twenties. Thankfully I also had an inkling that I was twenty-stupid.
    I am looking forward to old age because it means I get there! That means so many more books read, people talked to, songs enjoyed along the way…I think what will make me feel “old” will not be my age, but when my mother dies. She says she’s old since she’s sixty-nine and has arthritis, but it’s hard to believe anyone who runs that fast could be old.

    • February 29, 2016 at 9:04 pm
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      Yeah, it is good to age knowing you have lived. I don’t have a bucket list. I have done the things I truly wanted to do. So I am happy. I will say, it is one of those challenges to see our parents age. We want them to be strong forever. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  • February 29, 2016 at 11:28 am
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    I’ve felt grownup for a long time. Since my teenage years. I may have been born that way. Or maybe it was because I was the oldest child. But grownup does not mean old! Just mature.

    • February 29, 2016 at 1:17 pm
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      That is so interesting. I am a middle child. Hmmm, I wonder if that plays a part in how old you feel? I know there was a point where I felt “grown up.” But at the same time, it doesn’t feel like I thought it would. LOL So there is no pleasing me, I guess. haha So glad you stopped by!

  • February 29, 2016 at 8:03 am
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    Oh, man, do I hear you, Pauline. I turned the big 60 last year as well. And people do look at me weird when I talk about what I want to do when I grow up!

    Seriously, my mother tried to tell me this secret when she turned 50. She said that she felt my age (20) on the inside, and it was a shock to look in the mirror at her 50-year-old self. I thought she was nuts! Surely she had to feel 50 on the inside, right?

    Um, well, you know the answer to that! But, you know, Pauline, I am happy to feel young on the inside. I think it makes me feel younger, except perhaps when I wake up on those cold, humid mornings and no muscles move like they should! I look forward to continuing to learn for as long as I am able.

    Great post–I’m glad to know I’m not alone!

    • February 29, 2016 at 1:15 pm
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      Oh, thanks, Elizabeth! Yeah, my grandmother used to say she was surprised to see her old face and I used to be just like you! I’d wonder, whaaat?? How can you forget that? haha Oh well, I’m learning now. It’s a way weird feeling, this old/young feeling. And the surprise when you realize other people don’t see you the way you feel you are. Thanks for coming by!

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