Hindsight really is 20/20, isn’t it? The older I get the more I realize this, and sometimes I think I may be a little bit off the grid in the fact that I actually like getting older! Weird, I know, but I find a lot of comfort in all of the good that comes with every new year added to my age. I’m currently just 29 (perhaps I should see how I feel at 59), but from my vantage point, getting older isn’t so bad.
The other day I had a long discussion with one of my girlfriends on the other side of the aging fence, and she asked me what exactly was so great about getting older. Well, Jessica (and all of you), here you go:
1. Things you regret now only seem part of the bigger picture.
When I was younger I was quite the little firecracker, social butterfly, wild child, call it what you will. I did well in school, was incredibly involved in sports and student government, but I was also a little out of control at times (bless my poor parents). I look back on most of my memories fondly; I had so much fun and no one could say I didn’t enjoy those years. But I also look back on some of those times and feel a little bummed out about the choices I made. I used to get legitimately upset thinking back to “mistakes,” some bad memories with not-so-good people, and it would eat me up inside. As the years have gone on though, I’ve come to realize that all of it is part of the story of me, just a different kind of chapter. Everything I’ve been through in my life has gotten me to where I am, and I love the place I’m at, so I’m thankful in a way. I’ve learned to appreciate all of it – the good, the bad, and for me, a part of getting older has been accepting and believing that my past doesn’t have to define me in any way, but that I am able to define it by the choices I make now. Positivity in the present can cause negativity in the past to become simply a bump in the road to where you end up.
2. Knowing who you are.
At 29, I still can’t say that I entirely know who I am, but I’m well on my way. In the past, I definitely didn’t even though I absolutely thought I did! I spent a good portion of my adolescent years like any other teenager- trying to figure out who I was, and from my experience, some never get that chance. I’m thankful I was able to make mistakes and grow, and now as I approach my thirties I’m beginning to see myself more for who I really am, and it’s pretty great. I’m not sure if anyone will ever have it all figured out, but being on the path to self-discovery, which leads to self-acceptance, is right where I want to be. Plus, the more you know about yourself, the more you can figure out what you want out of life, and then it’s easiest to follow your own heart and happiness to get to wherever you want to be.
3. Never having to do “that” again.
“That” is different for everyone. For some, it’s junior high. For others, it’s enduring living at home with parents, staying in the same town you grew up in, or maybe even dating. When you get to that point where you find whatever it is you’ve been looking for, it’s almost like the universe exhales right along with you. Perhaps you’ve finally found happiness in your career and you no longer have to job-hop, or maybe you finally live on your own, away from messy roommates, or even away from obsessively clean roommates. Maybe you’ve finally escaped high school and the thought of never, ever having to go back brings around a huge ticker tape parade in your mind. Whatever your “that” is, it’s a great feeling to have gotten a little older, a little wiser, and knowing you never have to do “that” again.
4. Understanding that nothing is forever, which in turn makes the “now” that much sweeter.
It’s morbid, but it’s true; we all die. And the older we get, the more we realize this. I’ve lost a lot of special people in my world, and it never gets easier, but it does bring waves of clarity to my own life. It’s scary when you have those moments of “I’m not invincible- nothing is forever,” and sometimes it’s enough to make me cry…but those moments are beyond important because they remind us to never, ever take a breath for granted.
5. Realizing that being too cool, is so not cool.
I feel like in my life I have wasted way too much time not doing this or that because of how it looked. Oh, my favorite song just came on? I have an urge to dance a little, but I won’t, because people may think I’m weird. UM HELLO younger self, who cares?! Really. The older I get the less I care, and now, I actually feel bad for all the too-cool people of the world. So what if I want to laugh loud, smile big, dance around to Bruce Springsteen, and find it way too boring to just quietly tap my foot at a show? I’m going to enjoy all these fun moments in life without regard for anyone who wants to rain on my parade. If only my junior high self would have learned this lesson, I could have had a lot more fun just being me than trying to be the cool kid. But at least I can be the coolest un-cool kid now, and to me, that’s pretty cool.