Special Note: These “getting old” examples aren’t true for everyone. They refer specifically to my own changes in life. However, if you find some similarities in your own thinking, even just one, be aware… you may be getting old, too!
You see, I’m nearing one of those pivotal ages. Granted, I may be the only one absolutely refusing to turn 30, but maybe not. Despite my refusal to admit to my actual numerical age, I can see the signs of me leaving the warming and comforting arms of “youth” and stepping into “adulthood”. And no, I don’t mean wrinkles and gray hair. This has nothing to do with visible physical signs. It has to do my body slowing down and telling me I’m old. It’s the worst when it’s my BODY telling me I’m old. Ugh.
(Yes, I do realize this actually happened YEARS ago, but let’s face the reality – it’s harder to admit it than it is to just live it and pretend to ignore it!)
So, now to get down and dirty with the admissions – yes, I’m getting older. Here’s how I can tell:
1. I have lost my fearlessness.
I remember a time when I would watch a kid ride by and pop a wheelie on their bike. Or maybe stand up on the seat and just barely keep their balance as they zoom by, teetering one way and the next. I just thought that was so neat! The thoughts that went through my head were more around the lines of, “Wow! That kid is so cool!” or, “I wish I could do that!” So I’d practice, fall over, scrape myself all up, then go crying home to my mother. I’d get all bandaged, and then I’d go out the next day, and try it again. I didn’t pay any attention to the fact that I’d get scraped up again – didn’t care one bit.
Now my thought is, “Well, it’ll serve them good when they fall over and crack open their head for doing such stupid things!” or, “If my child was doing that, I’d be dragging them inside right now!” I cringe, instead of staring in awe. And I certainly don’t try it!
Now, I also admit that I realize the “why” of all this. As we get older, we realize things hurt, and we don’t want to get hurt. I think some of the fearlessness of being a child is the whole it-won’t-happen-to-me sort of pseudo-reality. Sure, my friend broke their arm doing that, but it won’t happen to me!
Some adults carry this into their later years, and often, you can tell which ones they are. It’s not a bad thing, but some adults attempt or say things that I would never have the bravery for in a million years! Sometimes it gets them what they want, and sometimes it gets them fired or in trouble. It can still be entertaining as an adult, I admit, but my natural reaction is still to cringe.
2. I am no longer the college student that can survive on three hours of sleep a night, every night.
In fact, if I get less than about six or seven hours of sleep, I feel like I’m dying the next day. I just don’t want to do anything! As a school teacher who is responsible for a bunch of 11, 12, and 13 year olds all day long, this can be a bit of an issue when I can’t keep up with them.
I remember the time when I could stay up late watching a movie, doing my homework, or poking my husband in the side and then dodging away before he could get me back until however late I wanted to. As long as I got two or three hours of sleep, I was good! I’d hop out of bed, throw on something halfway decent (but very wrinkled), drag my hair into a ponytail, and then bound out of the house on my way to my college courses. Yes, I was the no-makeup kind, so it didn’t really matter how I looked. I was also a math major, so no one was looking, anyway.
Sometimes, I miss those days. But then I realize how much I really love to sleep, and I decide I’m rather satisfied with how I am now – sleepy and all. The only thing that interrupts it, anymore, is my alarm telling me it’s time to get up to go to work, and my children pouncing me on weekends telling me, “The sun is up! Time to get up!” when it’s barely peeking over the horizon.
3. I actually care about what I look like.
I used to only wear dress clothes when I absolutely had to. I’d find every way possible of getting out of it, even then. Most of my wardrobe consisted of jeans, t-shirts, and Eeyore sweatshirts. It used to not bother me one bit when my clothes were wrinkled, my hair was back in a ponytail, and I was makeup-less.
Now, I’m required to wear them every day. (With the exception of Fridays, when I can wear jeans. I LOVE Fridays!) I can still do the makeup-less thing, as long as my hair and clothes are alright. I do prefer my makeup on, though. The hair only goes into the ponytail on weekends, when it is being really stubborn in the morning, and when I’m tired of pushing it out of my face during the day. My clothes are unwrinkled, and I’ve even taken to wearing blazers and such – something I thought I’d never do, but now I quite like the three piece look.
I wouldn’t dream of leaving the house in my pajama pants (even though they are quite cute), though that is how I attended my Calculus class every morning in college. I still blame it on the class being at 8 a.m., and all of my other classes not starting until after noon. I’d literally hop out of bed, throw my hair in a ponytail, and go to class without looking at anything else, then come back after class and take my shower, etc. I wonder, now, how many mornings I went to class with drool stains on my shoulder – then, I didn’t care.
4. I no longer dream of being a rockstar.
Everyone has these dreams when they’re a child. They want to be a famous rockstar, or a mysterious superhero with super powers, or the first human to build a home in space… well, mine was the rockstar thing. I can sing, I took lessons, all that jazz. I always wondered if some famous producer would be at one of my productions, or even one of the talent shows I competed in, just looking for fresh new talent. My dreams were dashed when I got married, then resurfaced with the beginning of the “American Idol” show. Dashed again when I aged out of that, then resurfaced again when they raised the age limit to 28! By the time I aged out of it, yet again, I decided I didn’t really care anymore. Maybe I didn’t want it enough, but sitting outside for 3-5 days and nights standing in line, just to have ten seconds in front of judges that still might tell you “no” no longer appealed to me.
I’m happy being the crazy middle school math teacher with twins to raise and a wacky band-director husband. In fact, I quite like my life, and will continue to remain in education, a mom, and the wife of a loving husband for quite some years to come – hopefully forever.
5. I can no longer eat pure grease or sugar for breakfast.
My breakfast in high school every morning consisted of orange juice and two hash browns from McDonald’s. In college, it was whatever I could get my hands on. Often, the cookies from the cupboard and a cold coke from the fridge as I ran out the door. It was a fine start to my day, and I was just fine going until lunch.
If I try that now, it makes me nauseous. I feel bleh, turn green, and have to down something with real substance before my stomach will calm down. It’s a good thing I really like food, because it usually takes quite a bit of it to fix this problem.
All of these realizations, naturally, make me feel old! I’m nearing 30 (though you’ll never see me admit it again), and my body just can’t handle the things it used to. However, I find that I am content in life, and that makes me happier than ever. Watching soap operas as a child made me worry that I’d grow up to be like all of those people that hate their life. I love mine, and that is enough for me, even if I am losing my youth.