Fear Of Aging

“I think aging is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person you always should have been” – David Bowie

Somewhat of a self explanatory title, but nevertheless it’s something think about from time to time, as anyone would I suppose. I don’t feel as though I am a perfect human being in any way, I definitely accept my flaws and restrictions. That being said, I certainly do acknowledge that I have struggles as well. To solve some issues I’ve had, I’ve sought out solutions such as medications, therapy, keeping a journal, and venting to friends and family. I know sometimes I can be a little distant when I’m under a lot of stress but I try to keep people in the loop if there’s something stressful going on with me (or even anything positive for that matter as well). Everyone has their own way of coping with struggles and reducing stress, and for me I find it useful to calm myself down by lighting a candle, playing my guitar for a while, making some hot tea, and writing down everything that’s on my mind. Just turning thoughts into words sometimes seems to be helpful and helps me straighten out my mind, which is in part why I’ve even started a blog to begin with. Something that’s been on my mind a lot lately is conceptualizing that I’m getting older, I’ll never be a teenager again, and from this point in my life forward, I’ll only be getting older. I know it sounds odd coming from someone in their early 20s, but honestly the idea of aging is truly stressful for me to think about.

I don’t know about anyone else or how they think about aging, but every now and then I look in the mirror and I see a few things. I notice how different I look than I did when I was in my younger teen years, and at the same time I try to wonder what I’ll look like when I age further. I feel like sometimes I’m wasting my youth, in the sense that maybe I’m not doing the things that I will later wish I had done right now. It’s hard to predict something like that, and it’s a bit unsettling at the same time.

I went to Southern California back in June, and I had an interesting conversation about aging with a woman at the airport while I was waiting for my flight. I can’t remember her name or how we got started talking, but I remember being astonished at the facets of life she was chatting with me about, being a complete stranger. At first we spoke about where we were going, where we were from, normal small talk. She talked to me about all of her kids and what they all grew up to be, and where they were in the world. The bit of the conversation that resonated with me was when she told me that she was going to visit her father for the 4th of July. She expressed to me that she was feeling saddened that this may be the last time she would see him, as he was climbing up in age and had just reached somewhere in his 90s. She then talked to me about concern for herself, as a woman in her 40s, she was fearful of aging. I remember explicitly she told me that she would hate to grow old simply because the quality of life would be unbearable. It seemed almost like she was venting to a therapist in some ways, and it made me wonder if she had anyone else in her life that would listen or even understand the fear she was talking to me about.

Maybe it’s just as well, I can understand the comfort in talking to strangers about unusually personal topics for multiple reasons. In some ways, there’s comfort in knowing the other person has no previous knowledge or opinions of you, and may never even see you again, which in itself seems like an opportunity for some to just open up about whatever may be on their minds. Another reason I feel like there might be comfort in talking to strangers about personal topics is just the empathetic sense of humanity many share. I almost wish it was so easy to just be in a room of people who have never met each other, or even just a person, it’s truly astonishing to consider that you don’t really even need to know someone to feel safe enough to have an intimate conversation with them. It’s okay to be real and to be vulnerable to someone, but on the contrast, not everyone will perceive or welcome that sort of interaction, so definitely try to make proper judgement on that.

The human condition is a perpetually changing experience. Unfortunately, as it goes on, problems seem to arise. Humans, like any other creature, seem to slow down the older they get, and evolving into that state truly frightens me, but at the same time motivates me not to waste my youth while I’m able to be active and energetic. While the process occurs at different times and speeds for everyone, I still fear for the day when I start to realize I’m unable to do the things I was able to do before.

1 Comment

  1. I love the Bowie quote.

    This is a really thought-provoking article and as someone who was raised by their grandparents & great-grandmother, it resonated with me.

    I was speaking to my grandparents’ friends and something one of them said struck me… I’ve actually heard it several times now, all from different people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s.

    “I don’t feel any different to when I was . I’m still the same, but then I go and do something and I realise I can’t do that anymore.”

    It was the sense of sad, wondering surprise in the last part, the sense of being caught out each time by a body that no longer matches the mentality. Then a few of them joined Aqua Aerobics, and there are cycling clubs for over 60s, and I see people – couples, widows, people who have grown old as single people – living full, rich lives. And I wonder if there were more positive examples of aging, if we routinely made older friends and normalised the aging process and learned ways to accept and cope with our own mortality, would it still be *as* frightening?

    Liked by 1 person

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