It is strange when you realize you have reached the age you actually are.
So many times when we are young, we want to be looked at as older, and when we are older, we want to be looked at as younger. I feel very young at heart, but if I could look back at myself from my own eyes as a youngster, I’d appear to be older than dirt. I remember seeing friends of my parents who appeared to be in their 60s, when they were the age I am now (which is younger than that). This wasn’t because they prematurely aged or looked worn out like a roadhouse bartender; it was because my perspective of age was horribly wrong.
I see those same friends and they look just as they did 20 or 30 years ago. They have existed in a vacuum. They are in their golden 60s now. There’s hope for me yet, because my 40s has been an interesting decade.
My 20s were a time of weddings and parties. It was a time for keeping up ties with college friends and traveling. My 30s brought more weddings, a slew of baby showers, and settling into family life. It is when the carefree days of yore left and adulthood showed up at the door. Tequila shots and 2 a.m. cab rides were replaced with Family Game Night, a bowl of popcorn and 2 a.m. diaper changes. This is where you think you grab life by the scruff of the neck and become its overlord.
The 40s come and your grip strength is gone.
Weddings have been replaced with divorces. Baby showers share equal time with funerals of elderly family or, tragically, friends your age. Gym time no longer makes you buff, it simply wards off the ravages of time. Hair disappears or changes color like aging leaves. Doctor visits are no longer a hassle – they are a necessity that is followed up by worries of what the blood work will uncover. Aches and pains last longer, while eyesight requires increasingly thicker corrective lenses or surgery.
Worse yet, a simple mathematical calculation shows you have likely lived half of your life or more. Life has performed a reverse move on you and now has your gray, wrinkling neck scruff firmly in its hold.
From here on out it becomes a wrestling match. You try to get a takedown by eating right and exercising and you try to avoid getting swept off your feet by a teen pregnancy or a massive tuition bill. You are too weak to throw haymakers anymore, so everything becomes a defensive reaction. You try to balance family commitments with friendships, and both become tougher to navigate.
The kids are young adults who need you less, and friends may have come and gone due to moving, divorce, or even due to sickness or death. But you know, that mathematical calculation says I still have half my life to live. That’s what I plan to do.
Reach Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org to swap Depends stories.