Photo: BigStock

Young and Aging: The Peculiar Feeling of Getting Older

Over the last year or so, I’ve noticed little changes. My back sometimes hurts when I wake up. My fingers feel stiff some days. A few gray hairs may have been found. My left knee tends to get sore from sitting cross-legged.

I haven’t mentioned any of this to anyone because I’m young. I finished college not too long ago. I just started my life. Or at least it feels that way.

I hesitate to bring it up in conversation because people who are older than me will balk at my observations, and say, “Oh, please, wait until you are my age.” So I keep quiet and think about it by myself.

There’s something peculiar about being on the cusp of seeing – and feeling – the effects of aging. I started noticing changes that were small enough for me to think they were anomalies. I could look in the mirror and think, “This is just for today. Tomorrow I will look how I normally do.” I could process this as a bad day rather than a side effect of getting older.

This morning I saw a picture of myself, and I thought, “This doesn’t look like me!” This person has laugh lines and her face looks like it’s drooping at the cheeks. Her skin isn’t glowing, and her smile looks, well, tired, in a way. Her eyes are more sunken than mine and she almost looks puffy.

However, when I saw this particular picture, my reaction was different. There was something about it that prevented me from thinking, “Tomorrow I will look how I normally do.” This time, I thought, “This is how things are now. This is what it is like.”

There is deep danger in the cultural conditioning we have around what it means to not look like we used to, to actually endure the effects of getting older. My immediate thought and reaction could almost be described as panic: “There is something wrong because I do not look how I did seven years ago.”

And my mind raced for answers: “Maybe I’m working out too much.” “All those years of not wearing sunscreen as a child have caught up with me.” Trying to find the thing – as if there was one thingthat was to blame for these changes I noticed since my early 20s. I couldn’t help but feel that “I need to fix this, this is not okay.”

A sort of fear arose: the realization that I am not excluded from the process of aging. I must have caused this in some way, missed a step or a special moisturizer or something. I’ve recently been eating M&Ms, and well, I knew that wasn’t the healthiest choice – but wow, I didn’t expect to see the effects so quickly!

“I need to change my hair,” I thought. “Clearly, this is where I’ve gone wrong.” A short moment of peace… “Okay, you’ll get your hair changed and it will all be okay again.”

It was fascinating to watch my mind process the realization that I was getting older, and how sad, as well. How quickly I punished myself for being human. How readily I felt a sense of loss. How compelled I was to make a change to try and recapture my youth.

This is a fascinating topic to me, particularly as a woman. My mind wasn’t my own in a way. It seemed to reflect the voice of advertising, of media, of how society values women. Even though I don’t subscribe to that newsletter, there it was as blatant as my new found wrinkles.

And as I write this, I think, “What’s the lesson here?” I can think of a few. I could name a few lines that would wrap up this post. But that’s not our nature. We are not a beginning and an end, or a problem and a solution. We are an ever-unfolding process. We are changing, always.  I’m keeping space open for that.

10 followers

I am an animal trainer and owner of Bark and Soul. I have guided hundreds of people to new, empowered and educated relationships with their pets through my science-based and heart-centered approach. I earned my degree in Biological Psychology with an emphasis in Animal Behavior from UC Davis and worked in veterinary clinics, shelters, farms and sanctuaries before opening my own practice. My unique approach integrates the latest research in the fields of psychology and mindfulness studies.

Want to start sharing your mind and have your voice heard?

Join our community of awesome contributing writers and start publishing now.

LEARN MORE


ENGAGE IN THE CONVERSATION

Young and Aging: The Peculiar Feeling of Getting Older

Over the last year or so, I’ve noticed little changes. My back sometimes hurts when I wake up. My fingers feel stiff some days. A few gray hairs may have been found. My left knee tends to get sore from sitting cross-legged.

I haven’t mentioned any of this to anyone because I’m young. I finished college not too long ago. I just started my life. Or at least it feels that way.

I hesitate to bring it up in conversation because people who are older than me will balk at my observations, and say, “Oh, please, wait until you are my age.” So I keep quiet and think about it by myself.

There’s something peculiar about being on the cusp of seeing – and feeling – the effects of aging. I started noticing changes that were small enough for me to think they were anomalies. I could look in the mirror and think, “This is just for today. Tomorrow I will look how I normally do.” I could process this as a bad day rather than a side effect of getting older.

This morning I saw a picture of myself, and I thought, “This doesn’t look like me!” This person has laugh lines and her face looks like it’s drooping at the cheeks. Her skin isn’t glowing, and her smile looks, well, tired, in a way. Her eyes are more sunken than mine and she almost looks puffy.

However, when I saw this particular picture, my reaction was different. There was something about it that prevented me from thinking, “Tomorrow I will look how I normally do.” This time, I thought, “This is how things are now. This is what it is like.”

There is deep danger in the cultural conditioning we have around what it means to not look like we used to, to actually endure the effects of getting older. My immediate thought and reaction could almost be described as panic: “There is something wrong because I do not look how I did seven years ago.”

And my mind raced for answers: “Maybe I’m working out too much.” “All those years of not wearing sunscreen as a child have caught up with me.” Trying to find the thing – as if there was one thingthat was to blame for these changes I noticed since my early 20s. I couldn’t help but feel that “I need to fix this, this is not okay.”

A sort of fear arose: the realization that I am not excluded from the process of aging. I must have caused this in some way, missed a step or a special moisturizer or something. I’ve recently been eating M&Ms, and well, I knew that wasn’t the healthiest choice – but wow, I didn’t expect to see the effects so quickly!

“I need to change my hair,” I thought. “Clearly, this is where I’ve gone wrong.” A short moment of peace… “Okay, you’ll get your hair changed and it will all be okay again.”

It was fascinating to watch my mind process the realization that I was getting older, and how sad, as well. How quickly I punished myself for being human. How readily I felt a sense of loss. How compelled I was to make a change to try and recapture my youth.

This is a fascinating topic to me, particularly as a woman. My mind wasn’t my own in a way. It seemed to reflect the voice of advertising, of media, of how society values women. Even though I don’t subscribe to that newsletter, there it was as blatant as my new found wrinkles.

And as I write this, I think, “What’s the lesson here?” I can think of a few. I could name a few lines that would wrap up this post. But that’s not our nature. We are not a beginning and an end, or a problem and a solution. We are an ever-unfolding process. We are changing, always.  I’m keeping space open for that.

Scroll to top

Follow Us on Facebook - Stay Engaged!

Send this to a friend