The Harsh Realities of Getting Older
Things that have recently come to my attention upon entering my “late twenties”
When you’re young, you look forward to all of the seemingly “cool” things that you get to do when you’re older — Being old enough to drive, old enough to buy a lottery ticket, old enough to vote, to legally drink alcohol, to live on your own, etc.
We look forward to the day when our parents are no longer in control of our lives; where we can be our own person and do whatever we want to do. But, the funny thing is, once we’re actually allowed to do all of that stuff, it’s suddenly not as exciting anymore. It loses its appeal because all of those things sort of just become a part of our lives.
And though we had long-awaited the day when we were finally old enough, we finally realize that not all of the other things that go along with getting older are so nice and shiny.
In fact, life doesn’t get easier just because we’re old enough to do certain things — It gets harder. Much, much harder.
I recently turned 28 this past November, and to those of you reading who think that’s still young, please be aware that I understand that I’m not “that old” in the grand scheme of life.
However, I did notice that a lot of things have changed within me in recent years, both mentally and physically. I’ve also come to understand certain harsh realities that I never thought about back when I was younger and much more carefree.
I realized that priorities change and sometimes, you have to find a way to make things work…because when you’re older, you’re accountable for your own life as well as the choices you make.
Your body doesn’t react the same way that it used to.
I wouldn’t say that I necessarily feel weaker than I did when I was younger. Instead, I’d say that I just have to be a little more mindful of how I use my body and what I put into it.
I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older, I’m not necessarily less capable, but instead, I’m a little more fearful of the long-term consequences of what would happen if I damage my body. I’ve noticed that my body doesn’t quite heal the same way that it used to.
Consuming large quantities of alcohol has become much less appealing. Consuming food that I know has poor nutritional value has become much less appealing. Neglecting myself of sleep has become much less appealing. Getting injured has become much less appealing (not that it ever was in the first place).
The point being, I have to be more cognizant of what I do to my body now because I don’t want to have to pay for it later.
Not everyone makes it to your future.
The amount of friends that I’ve gained and lost over the years is an overwhelming number to count —I’ve lived in seven different apartments with quite a large number of roommates since 2009. Since 2012, I’ve worked at six different companies outside of college alone. Prior to my boyfriend, I’ve attempted and failed at dating more times than I’m willing to admit.
Through all of this, and this is only factoring in college to present day, hundreds upon hundreds of people have come in and out of my life. Yet, out of all of them, maybe less than a dozen have actually stuck with me.
I realized that, as harsh as it sounds, not everyone will stay your friend. Not everyone will keep checking in with you. Not everyone will continue to care about you. And though I have taken it personally in the past, I understand now that it’s just a part of growing up and a part of life.
You’re going to fail many more times than you actually succeed.
The number of times that I’ve failed in work, in relationships, in personal goals, and in life in general is almost too depressing of a number to say aloud — And frankly, I don’t even want to try to count them.
I don’t want to count my failures nor do I want to dwell on them because they’re in the past. I’ve learned from my them, I’ve overcome them, and I’ve come out so much stronger because of them.
I never realized how big of a role failure played in life. And though it’s not a great feeling, it is a necessary feeling. Without failure, we’d never learn resilience, humility, or strength. Ultimately, failure can and will happen.
Only recently have I come to terms with no longer fearing it.
You have to love yourself FIRST.
For a while, I really struggled with self-love. I sought after it through the validation of work, friends, relationships, even running. I measured my worth based on all of these things, but what I never realized was that it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks of you — What matters is what you think of yourself.
I used to care so much about people’s perception of me. I cared so much about upholding a certain image or making sure that I didn’t rub people the wrong way. And if ever I felt that there was a negative thought about me from a co-worker, a friend, or some guy I was dating, I’d crawl into fetal position and believe every word of it.
I never realized how important it was to love yourself first before you can ever truly allow anyone else to love you— And furthermore, if whoever it is ends up not loving you back, then love yourself enough to walk away.
“We accept the love we think we deserve.” — Stephen Chbosky
Probably the harshest reality of them all — Knowing my parents are getting older too.
My mortality is still something that I have yet to fully grasp. However, what I have become fully aware of is the mortality of my family members and how much that scares the complete shit out of me.
I mentioned that I celebrated my 28th birthday this past November. Well, the way that I celebrated it was the same exact way that I always celebrate it every single year — with my family.
Coincidentally, I share a birthday with my sister and our birthdays happen to fall around Thanksgiving, therefore my parents invite our extended family to our house every single year to celebrate me and my sister’s birthday along with Thanksgiving.
Only recently, I’ve started to slowly notice that not I’m not the only one getting older every year — So are my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, and more importantly, my parents. And this has become the harshest reality that I’ve struggled to come to terms with.
I know friends and colleagues who’ve had parents pass away at too young of an age and I truly can’t image how that must feel. It recently dawned on me that this isn’t just something that happens to other people…it happens to all people. And since then, I’ve come to terms with understanding that our days are numbered and that we just need to choose where we spend our time wisely.
I’ve come to terms with understanding that my parents, my friends, my boyfriend, all of the people whom I’m close to won’t be around forever and that I need to take advantage of the time I have with them.
I’ve come to understand the importance of being more self-aware, more kind, more loving, and more grateful.
Growing up is not an easy thing. I know that these are not the last of the harsh realities or lessons that I’ll learn in life. I know that things will continue to get harder and I’ll continue to fail and struggle. But, at the same time, I do have hope that I’ll make it through. That’s the thing that keeps me going.
“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.” — Herman Melville
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article, check out, “The Peculiarity of Making Friends at Work”