Best Kept Secret: Getting Old is Okay
When I was in my twenties fresh out of college, for a few months I lived with my parents who’d left suburban Long Island when their last child, my youngest brother, went off to college.
I think it’s the first time I was conscious of their age. I was temporarily back home and meeting new people. I saw them through my friends’ eyes along with my own and I saw them as old. They were fifty.
I do remember how excited they were by all the things they could do, the opportunities that were now open to them living in the city. My father was still working, but after work he loved trying the restaurants that until now he’d only been able to read about. My mother, who hadn’t worked since I was born, immediately got a membership at the Metropolitan Museum, started volunteering at the local Red Cross and signed up for courses at the New York Botanical Garden. She especially took to the city like a duck to water. It was as if she had a new lease on life and I remember being proud of her, but I was also amused because she was “old.”
Now I’m older than they were then, but I don’t feel “old.” If I’m old, and by most definitions, I am, I’ve discovered that it’s not a bad place to be. From the time I was a child until I went away to college, I didn’t feel like I had control of anything, let alone my future. It wasn’t much better after that.
For as long as I can remember there were people to worry about, standards to measure up to, and of course, the competitions. I never figured out the rules to those competitions until it was too late, so I wasn’t very good at them, but I worried anyway.
For some reason, those competitions don’t matter so much anymore. Maybe I’ve been around so long that I can see a lot of them are silly and have finally figured out that comparisons don’t usually make any sense. I’m not sure. What I do know is that I’m finally at the age where I don’t worry so much about what other people think and I don’t spend a lot of time comparing myself to others.
There will always be people that are better looking, have more and by certain standards, are more successful. But I’ve pretty much stopped judging myself by others. I know I’m very lucky and have the life that I want to lead.