You are only as old as you let yourself be.
Growing up, we are always told that no matter what hardship or inconvenience we are going through, we are not alone because there is always someone else out there who is dealing with the same thing. But it seems that as we grow older and begin wondering how we are going to spend the rest of our lives with our children out of the house and our days getting “numbered”, we forget that we are not alone. Aging is a part of the human condition, for better or worse, but over time it seems that people have begun to associate aging with the maxim that people start using in their mid-thirties in foresight of gray hair, wrinkles and loss of vitality: “I’m getting old”. You can hear the lackluster in people’s voices when they say it these days. The negative outlook is tangible and you can almost visualize the doom that person lives on with, the black cloud pouring buckets of rain down and thrusting glorious thunderbolts to their right and left as they walk a restricted, lonely path to the light at the end of the tunnel.
The problem is common amongst many people: they harp on the losses that may come with older age but lack the mental plasticity to see that in those losses are gains, and that not all lifestyle changes that are associated with older age are negative. It seems that people forget that you are never alone, and that your experiences in old age, just as throughout the lifespan, are what you make of them; we just have to maintain the presence of mind to see the cup as half full as opposed to half empty, as it has always been.
Now, I am not here to lie to you, growing old is not all positive, trust me! Unlike wine, there are few people that grow more appealing with age, as wrinkles begin to set in and the body slowly but surely begins to change. They always tell you don’t smoke while you are young, eat well, drink alcohol in moderation, exercise daily, be diligent when it comes to saving and spending your money, and so forth and so on, but if your “young” looked anything like my “young”, you were too busy trying to live the good life to invest spiritually, monetarily and physically in your future. So most people view older age as that dreaded period in your life when the cost and repercussions of all that free-spirited, carefree, good living catches up to you. But even in old age, it is not too late to pick up habits for the betterment of your lifestyle and to adopt a positive outlook on the changes that are often stigmatized in this period of life.
I have been a mother for nineteen plus years – and I state the fact as if an employee with nice benefits and a solid 401k plan because being a mom is a job with its perks and its inconveniences – but now that my son has moved out the house for his first year of college, I retrospect on all those long nights when he was a baby crying for food, those long nights when he was just a child and still afraid of the zombies in his closet, and those long nights just a few months ago when I was up until two in the morning, furious and worried about why he was not home. And yet, I am amazed at how quickly time flew. When you devote nineteen years of your life to an intimate and loving relationship such as that, only, in the end, to have your child become independent enough to move out the house and forge their own glorious journey through life, you are proud, but you are also saddened, heartfelt, and unsure. Saddened by the realization that your child no longer depends on you the way they have been for nearly two decades, that they no longer need you for all that you are used to providing, and saddened by the loss of not having your child around. And the unsurety rises when you realize that you are not needed to the same extent you were before; unsurety at the free time that has just blessed – and yes I do mean blessed – your life; unsurety at all of the possibilities that can become realities.
My husband and I were heartfelt when our son first moved out, but we took the mid-life crisis that is often referred to as “empty nest syndrome” and we decided to turn it into a positive change in our lives: we were each other’s therapy and we decided that, in the end, we should feel nothing but pride in the fact that we have raised our son well and that he is now self sufficient. We even took it a step further: we realized that in how little free time we had to enjoy each other’s company in the past in nineteen years. So we decided that we would work to rekindle the intimacy that had been lacking and unattainable during our child-rearing days and to support each other in bettering our collective health through exercise, dance, and healthy eating habits.
The point here is that loss can be an opportunity for gain and great things can arise from situations if you simply choose to adopt a positive outlook. Growing up, my grandmother used to tell me, in her mid-seventies, that she was not old: she would joke “your grandmother’s not old, she’s just well-seasoned” because old, to her, was a mind state, not a physical state of being. You are as young as you act, was her point, and the moment you stop trying to live your life is the moment that you turn old: when you decide that you are simply going to sit around and wait for old age to hit you is when you have been sneak-attacked, not realizing that “old” is already upon you. Instead, you must realize that life is a trial and error process that you should dedicate toward your own self-progress and perfection, and age does not change that. Decreased responsibilities and an increase in free time should mean greater opportunities for you to learn more about yourself and to experience the parts of your life that you had been unable to explore previously.
So do not let “old” creep up on you! Seize your opportunities to live life, no matter you age because you are only as old as you let yourself be.
You can read this article and more in our July issue here: https://joom.ag/QwiL