“What does “getting older” mean to you?” The question surprised me. Not only because it was coming from a complete stranger, but because I had been thinking about this very sentiment just a few weeks prior. To me, it felt like fate. It’s as if the universe put this human in front of me to ask that question again, and instead of the thoughts dancing around in my head over morning coffee, I had to vocalize an answer.
I think for a lot of us, growing older scares us. Our shoulders curl inward when we talk about age and we nervously giggle at the relatability of a cute bulldog spread out on all fours complaining about adulthood’s exhausting responsibilities.
Furthermore, getting older can make us anxious about the past. Did I do all the things I was supposed to do at that age? Should I have travelled more? Why didn’t I do that sooner? Did I miss my chance? Should I have been more free-spirited? Not worried so much? I’ll never be this young again.
And then there is the race against the clock. The realization that sweeps in when its most inconvenient to remind you that, with no sugar coating, you are in fact going to die. Man, mortality, am I right?
Yet, when I was asked this question, I wasn’t met with fear or anxiety or a mourning of youth lost. In fact, I surprised myself.
It’s a becoming. An evolution. We are not declining as we age, but growing. Shaping. Blooming. I told him that I’m more confident in who I am than ever before, and that continues with each passing day. I’m more sure of myself, more willing to take risks, and most importantly, more comfortable in my own skin.
Sure, getting older usually means more financial security, maybe a partner to walk through the weeds with, but I think the biggest reason ageing is so freeing is that we are finally introducing ourselves, to ourselves. The real us. Not the too cool for school, influenced by every billboard, text message and self-help book self.
Getting older is a privilege, something to be appreciated and never taken for granted. You are a culmination of everything you’ve learned and each day is an opportunity to apply it and share it with the world. How freaking cool and exciting is that?