Youth may have its physical advantages, but I am finding the perspective gained from becoming older a reason I would not want to go back in time. In fact, I embrace the knowledge I am going to become older and wiser! Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net
In less than a month I will be 39. When I was 21, in many ways life was great. I had an abundance of energy, youthful hopes and dreams albeit a little unrealistic, but nonetheless intoxicating. After all, I felt my whole life was a head of me, and everything was possible. I felt I had all the time in the world to help my dreams eventuate.
Paradoxically however, this period of time up until about 30 was painfully difficult. I suffered the low self-esteem that can occur from insecurity. Doubts about how likeable I was to others, fears of disapproval, and had an unnecessary load of worries that stem from the inexperience of youth, like worrying about events unlikely to occur.
Now I am older I still do have concerns. I still suffer periods of sadness and low self-esteem that undulates in severity.
However, I am more comfortable in my own skin as I become older. Even though I probably would only be considered to be early in my middle age, I do have a greater sensibility that life indeed does not go on forever. An awareness of this has also been brought on by seeing my mother age, who at 74 cannot as easily do things as she used to and has recently just overcome breast cancer.
Also I have other middle-aged friends who also seem to realise the brevity of life, and, as such embrace this life with a greater sense of urgency.
However, being older is something I would not reverse for anything. Despite loss of whatever looks I had (not a lot), energy and youthful dreams, I feel a greater sense of balance and realistic perspective now that I am older that has improved my life.
I don’t care nearly as much what people think, not so much because I am not concerned with it, but I feel that I just don’t want to waste time dwelling on this, when there are so many other things I could spend my time doing.
I have learnt what is worth worrying about, and can distinguish them from my flippant concerns of youth – like appearance and popularity. Now I worry about loved ones' health, having quality relationships with those who mean a lot to me, spending time with people I really care about, and trying to make a worthwhile contribution to this world.
So, not for the world would I go back to being 21. (However, I would not mind the energy I had at this age!).
During university last semester, I remember being extremely surprised that, during one’s entire life, scientific studies supported the finding that we are maximally happy in our early seventies! This is great news for those of us who fear becoming older. I guess it would seem, as it does at nearly forty years of age for me, that though physically we may become less able to enjoy life, mentally and emotionally we enjoy far more satisfaction. Perhaps we are also more accepting of what is, instead of always wanting something more.
So, let each passing birthday be a reason to celebrate more and more, as evidence suggests our quality of life just becomes better!
Hope you have a great birthday! Like you I was surprised to hear people in the period of life called 'old age' are often happier than when they were younger. I wonder if they tend to live more in the moment rather than looking to the future.