Why I Am No Longer Afraid Of Getting Old

I'm just getting started.

I'm just getting started.

As an only child, I spent most of my time with adults...which explains why my closest friends and the love of my life are all my mother’s age.

I have a completely common and certainly not surprising confession to make. Turning 30 freaked me out. I was no longer a 20-something. Although I’d been living and working as a grown-up — yes, that’s the term I used — since I was 21, had no clue about the club scene, and didn’t have any interest in some of the wild things people always seemed to do, I couldn’t imagine not being in my 20s anymore. It was as if all those things I didn’t want to do or hadn’t done would be out of reach once I hit 30.

For everyone over the age of 30, you can stop laughing now.

Hitting 35 messed me up a little too. I was now officially in my mid-30s. 36 wasn’t any better. One step closer to being in my late 30s.

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Because it is.

My best friends are 55 and 50. The oldest of the two is a week older than my mother. My boyfriend (I hate that term) is 54 — yes, that’s an 18-year age difference, and no I don’t care. My father was 38 when I was born, and I count him as one of the most influential people in my life. Most of memories of him are when he was in his late 40s to late 50s (he died when I was 22).

To say that I’ve been influenced by older people all my life is a massive understatement.

As an only child, I spent most of my time with adults. I related better to my teachers than my peers. These days, I still don’t understand people my age and younger. I try, but I feel like they’re speaking a foreign language.

Which explains why my closest friends and the love of my life are all my mother’s age.

Knowing all of that, I can’t explain why the idea of getting a little older ever freaked me out. But I got a wake-up call in the best possible way.

The man who keeps my hair at a manageable length and a pretty violet color every six weeks is 73. He says he can’t retire because he refuses to sit around and do nothing all day. But he also says that, at his age, he shouldn’t have to work Mondays anymore — so he doesn’t. Yep, he’s still doing hair at his age. Yes, when I go in, I’m the youngest person there, and I’m younger than most of his children.

He’s a cool old dude who never strikes me as whatever I think a 70-something should be. Thanks to him, my eyes have been opened to people even he considers old.

The couple who met in their 80s and moved in together within months. He converted to Catholicism for her. She was married 50-plus years before they met and (according to my guy) seems to be more in love with her new husband than her first. And there was no doubt about how much she loved him.

The 100-year-old woman who lives on her own, bakes cakes from scratch, and calls for help fixing the smallest things so she can have someone to feed and talk to.

The 104-year-old woman who doesn’t live on her own and wishes she could drive herself places, but her 80-year-old daughter won’t let her. Says it makes her nervous. (I’ve driven around the 80-year-old people — they make me nervous so I can’t imagine what a woman who’s over 100 must be like behind the wheel.)

Yes, there are those who get cancer, have heart attacks, go into nursing homes, and who are forgotten by their children. The sad stories can be found in any age.

But it’s these senior citizens, the oldest among us, who give me the most hope.

Between 30 and 36, I’ve done a lot I never thought possible — started a writing career, found a true love, and made a new life for myself and my children.

When I see what’s possible in my 70s, 80s, and beyond, what’s there to be scared about? Who cares?

I may still be working in my 70s — on my own terms.

I might find love again in my 80s.

I may scare the hell out of my kids and live to be 100.

Hitting 37 this year is a potential blip on the radar of life. I may have another 60 years ahead of me to do new things, meet new people, and freak out the kids a little. Screw freaking out about getting older. I’m just getting started. 

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