Why I’m Falling In Love With Getting Older
The earth has circled the sun again for the one who types these words. It has a way of doing that this time of year — an act for which I’m supremely grateful.
In the days leading up to the closing of my sun circle, I feel compelled to take stock. Where am I? Who am I? What have I learned? How have I grown? What mistakes have I made?
…Am I doing this right?
And as I get older, I notice this stock-taking process becomes less painful. Sure, I’m nowhere near perfect — but I’m better than I was in decades past. And ain’t that the point of this whole thing?
When my mind jumps back through the years, I often want to pull it forward.
I’m not proud of everything I’ve done, or happy with every version of myself I’ve been. I still cringe at who I tried to be in my teenage years — perhaps more so that I tried at all. There are moments so embarrassing I wish I could erase them forever. Times I was cruel to people I love. Decisions made for all the wrong reasons. Nights spent agonizing about things that don’t mater at all.
They make me wince and I try to push them out of my mind because they don’t even feel like me… but they are. Of course they are. We all come from somewhere.
But as I get older, I feel peace. Because with age comes the wisdom and confidence to be a better, more authentic you. And once you feel that, it’s the greatest sigh of relief.
I realized all this a year ago, when I was approaching my 30th birthday.
Approaching a ‘milestone’ birthday is a funny thing.
As much as you want to say “it’s just another year” — it does feel different. So people react.
Many seem shaken. Perhaps they’re not quite where they imagined they would be, certain life events still unchecked on whatever wish list they formed when they had no idea about life.
Others lament over aging, distraught about new grey hairs, deepening lines, and slowing metabolisms. They dye their hair and buy fancy creams, stress about missed workouts and deprive themselves of delicious.
And then there are those who just keep celebrating their 29th or 49th or 69th birthday forever, giggling as they refuse to say The Great Number Which Ends In Zero.
Then those who pretend it’s not happening at all, as if acknowledging it is what makes it real.
But the flaw in this approach is that the I’m-Not-Aging game is one you can only lose.
The other reaction? Own it.
So instead of turning 30 overcome with denial and despair, I was excited. I chose to dance my way in with gratitude. To count my blessings and arrive as a more fully formed me — the good, the bad, and the I’m-still-not-sure. To recognize that even though responsibilities were piling on as the years went by, I’d become a conscious participant in my life… so I was free.
With three decades of experience under my belt, I had proof that it’s okay to zig when everyone else zags. That missteps are just part of the adventure. That being sincere to your spirit is the only way to find happiness.
You see the thing with spending more time being alive is that you’ve had more time to think. You’ve had more experiences which have morphed into perspective. You have memories to draw from and hope for the new ones you’ll form. You watch as bullshit subsides and the truth is revealed, and you can’t help but be better for it.
I started writing this piece a year ago, when I was turning 30.
This week, I turned 31. While I was digging through my year-old notes — deleting, re-writing, updating — I found myself amused. It had only been 365 days, yet I felt like present-me could do far better than past-me.
And maybe that’s the best analogy there is.
I have no doubt that 45-year-old me will read this piece and laugh, looking at my current opinions as ignorant, naive… adorable? But that’s what’s glorious about these loops around the sun. For those of us paying attention, the older we get, the better we get… especially if we try.
Every day, 19 million people on our green and blue mass have circled our bright star once again — each waking up to their birthday. All are a year older, wiser, and more experienced. And how lucky would we be if each one was also trying to be better.
So hello, 31.
I’m even more ‘me’ than I was when I started writing these words.
…Until next year.