I turned 30 this weekend.
I’ve always been kind of weird about aging. When I was very little, I was certain that I would not survive until adulthood, or even high school. I honestly believed that most children died before they had the chance to grow up, and what were the chances I’d be one of the lucky ones? Weirdly, I was at peace with this.
As I got older, and started to understand that childhood death was not as common as I had once believed, I decided that I did not, under any circumstances, want to grow up. Grown ups were miserable most of the time and frequently boring and I wanted no part of that. Unfortunately there was no stopping the march of time, and I knew it.
When I was seventeen I had this freak out moment when I realized that it was my last year of childhood. It was probably a good thing, it inspired me to pull my shit together and stop being the dumb, rebellious teenager I was. But it was frightening and saddening, and it was a long time before I stopped missing my childhood, and feeling like I didn’t appreciate it enough.
But as I’ve moved through my twenties, my views on aging have changed. Maybe it comes from having watched my kids grow, or maybe it’s from looking at the reality of my own aging in comparison to what the patriarchy has told me about what aging means all these years, but I don’t want to be negative about aging. I feel a little sad whenever I hear an older person say something like “This getting old thing is for the birds” or “Aging is no fun”. I get angry when I see ads for anti aging products, or hear women say things like “I stopped having birthdays at 29”,or the constant messages from culture telling us we have to be young. What’s wrong with aging? We all have to do it, there’s no escaping it. You can do it gracefully, or you can do it miserably. Accept it, or resign yourself to it. Either way, it’s going to happen and there’s not much you can do about it. In fact, it’s my opinion that too many products and procedures in the attempt to avoid it just end up making you look (and probably feel) worse than just aging would have. Why do we loathe and fear aging so?
Ageism is the weirdest prejudice. It’s something we all perpetuate knowing full well that we all will have to face the same fate. Are we really that short sighted? It’s bizarre. Why? And I can’t believe how many people do it to themselves as they age. Have we been trained to hate aging and ourselves that much?
I don’t want to hate aging.
I don’t want to be ashamed of my age, or go around fussing about how getting old sucks. I don’t want to talk about my youth as if it was some better time and the time I’m in now is worthless. I don’t want to have multiple 29th birthdays, or say things like “40 is the new 30”. I don’t know what kind of shape my body will keep, if I’ll get arthritis, or when my hair will turn grey, and I don’t care. I want to enjoy my life to the best of my ability right now, forever, no matter what my age is or what state my body is in. I want to be grateful that I didn’t die in childhood, that I have had the privilege to turn 13, 16, 18, 21, 25, and 30. I want to celebrate and be grateful for 40, 50, 60, and beyond. I want to cherish every birthday as the privilege it is, and my 30’s are going to be my 30’s, not my new 20’s, and my 40’s will be my 40’s, and so on. I want to get old. Very, very old. Old enough to see my great grand children graduate from high school old. And I want to love it, even if my body craps out on me, even if I go grey tomorrow and wrinkle up like a prune. I don’t want to fear aging. And I’m not going to.
That is my pledge for starting a new decade.