Turning 20 was an exciting day. I was out of my teens, which were challenging years, and I was in the infancy of a new decade – one that I was told would probably be the best in my life. When I approached 25, I had something of a quarter life crisis as so many do. But I was still only in my mid-twenties with lots of time to figure these years out. Perhaps what seemed most important, I was still considered young – not quite a full-blown adult yet. But because our society puts more value on youth, I worried how I would handle each passing year, knowing that approaching my thirties and beyond was inevitable.
Last week I turned 28, and a strange thing happened. I didn’t get the usual birthday anxiety I felt in recent years as I said goodbye to another year of youth. Instead, I felt a sense of relief as the day approached. I used to joke, “Eek, I’m getting old!” but I decided not to this year. I spent a good portion of my special day reflecting on my life and the past year. It gave me a chance to think about the positives of “growing old”. After all, we’re all headed that way. Here are four awesome things that come along with it.
1. Finally, FINALLY, you aren’t in that awkward place of being too “inexperienced”. You’ve been there: when a job you really want says “seeking 5-7 year’s experience” and you’ve only been in the working world for three years. While you know you’re qualified, it’s nearly impossible to convince others. Or you decide to go for it, only to hear “we decided to go with a candidate who had a few more years of experience.” With each passing year, you actually have enough experience to qualify. That’s reason to celebrate!
2. As you turn another year older you start to realize that there is truth to the expression, “another year older and wiser.” You begin to actually believe that something special really does come with age; wisdom, grace, whatever it may be. You have something to offer others. You don’t sound like just a know-it-all when you share life/career/relationship advice to someone 10 years your junior. She will actually listen to what you say and respect your two cents because you’ve been there.
3. You begin to see yourself in a new light. Slowly you accept yourself more and more because years of trying and failing have taught you that there’s no such thing as perfect and you can’t do everything and be everything. You can only give your best shot, every day, and that alone becomes good enough. Better yet, by now you know what you’re good at, and you know your strengths. You know what you like and you know what makes you happy. You may not realize it, but you do.
4. Your collection of stories and memories grows larger and larger, and there’s a sense of peace and contentment that comes with having a few years under your belt. You can let things roll off your shoulders a little more because you’ve come to expect that there’s disappointment around every turn; in your younger years this reality would have rattled your world. Above all, you’re alive, dammit! You’ve made it another 365 days in the heat and sun, wind and cold, crime and violence, and all other hardships out there. You’ve trudged through adversity and stress, bills and taxes, in-laws and traffic jams. Each day made you stronger and built character. How is that not cause for a joyous celebration?
Sadly, some people don’t wake to see tomorrow, their lives are cut too short. And those who live to see 100 probably say they still didn’t have enough time. How about we stop wasting another moment fretting over age and growing older. There are many more reasons to be grateful and excited about getting older. Realize you can’t change it, just like no one else. But why would you want to anyway?