What I Learned from Getting Old

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From the What I Learned Series

I don’t really think I’m old. Except when everything hurts for no apparent reason or I realize I go to bed now at the time I used to arrive at the bar. We are a culture obsessed with youth. We will do anything to retain taut skin and banish fine lines. But it’s not just our appearance. Being young is a state of mind: it’s about being active, decoding technology and using the current lingo and diction of the kids.

In many ways I’m holding on fiercely to my youth. I’ve been able to dismiss any signs of crow’s feet, not only due to my healthy skin regime but also slightly because of my resting bitch face. I’m pretty tech savvy and for the most part, I’m active. But I refuse to adopt the vernacular of youth. I don’t use the terms fleek, bae or YOLO. Not going to happen!

Yet I do “feel” old sometimes. It seems not that long ago that I was 16 and desperately wanted to be older. Well here I am, “older” and with age of course comes maturity and wisdom. Sometimes it also comes with regret. Regret for all the things you didn’t do when you had the chance. Even though my responsibilities as an adult don’t include children, there are still a lot of reasons I can’t just go do what I want: dogs, work, lack of funds, etc. The one great thing is I’m well aware of all the things left on my list to do. I may have less time to do them, although we have no guarantees no matter our age. So regret is not something that bothers me or nags at me. I accept that I’m no longer young but to me that doesn’t mean my options are any less.

So I wanted to write this list of reasons why I think I’m old and probably unhip (exhibit one – using the word unhip). I don’t think of this as a negative. Sometimes it’s better to be old and unhip.

1.    I don’t wear heels every day. For most of my 20s and early 30s, I wore heels every day. I was actually known for wearing inappropriate shoes. I love heels. They still make up the majority of my shoes. But I just can’t do it anymore. My feet hurt. I have to walk a lot. I usually wear sneakers or flip flops to work then change to my pumps. I opt for my cowboy boots over stilettos. My feet thank me for it.

2.    It’s very rare now that I seek out a fashion trend. Trends are typically meant for teens and 20-somethings. Trends are not likely to be universally flattering. They aren’t usually going to be pieces you can keep in a wardrobe over time. If I do try a trend then I don’t spend much on it. My taste is classic with a modern twist. At this point, I know what looks good on my body type so I gravitate toward that. It doesn’t mean I don’t love the look, I just know it won’t be a good fit for me.

3.    Social media is actually not really my thing. I spend a lot of time on social media, but the majority of this time is for professional reasons. It’s important for me to understand social media and how it impacts marketing. I need to know how to optimize the social media presence of brands I work for and my own brand. I use it a lot to promote my blog. But personally, I’d rather spend time with people in person. I’m glad it’s allowed me to reconnect with people and keep up with them, especially if we live far apart. But I’m fine to go days without checking it. It’s not an impulse for me. I could appreciate it more if it was a place of mutual respect and sharing of perspectives. These days it just seems like a negative, trolling environment. I don’t want to be part of that.

4.    My idea of a night out has changed dramatically. Social scenes were often awkward for me. Not really in high school, but college was hard. But I pushed myself to want to be part of the party. All through college and right after, I went out most every night: bars, clubs, house parties, whatever. From what I recall, I think I enjoyed it most of the time. After my divorce, I went through a party girl renaissance and lived it up in downtown Charlotte. I don’t know how much fun I had the second time around. But going out was just part of my life for many years. Now, I can’t imagine going to the club. We still go to bars or to see live music. My club days have long passed. Besides we have a rule, we won’t go anywhere that we could possibly run into Justin’s kids. What an embarrassment that would be. A great night out to me now is dinner with friends, possibly some live music or a nice walk. As long as home by 10.

5.    I don’t look forward or back as much as I did in my youth. In my youth, I was always waiting for something to happen or change so that my life could really start and I’d be happy. Or I’d look back at every little thing and wonder why I’d made such a mistake. Even though I had been through more than most at a young age, I still spend so much time second guessing everything. I still wonder what the heck I’m doing most of the time. I haven’t figured anything out completely. I just try really hard to stay in the present. Nothing needs to happen so I can be “happy.” I am some days; some days I’m not. I still look back but in a different way. Now I want to remember things as they were instead of trying to re-envision history. Time allows us lots of perspective. And that’s usually a good thing.

Youth is fleeting. We only get it for a little while, which is probably a good thing. When youth slips away, it leaves experience. Experience comes with a price; it will be written in wrinkles on our face but also in lessons on our hearts.

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