I’m not sure exactly when it happened. Perhaps a short time after my 26th birthday it dawned on me: I’m going to get old.
It’s crazy to think that someone could not realise that they too are going to get old, like every other single human being on the planet. I don’t know if I was alone in this thinking, that I was going to be ‘young’ forever. Actually, I know I’m not.
I was talking to my mum the other day and she spoke about a performance she did when she was in primary school. What? My mum, in primary school? It’s extremely odd to think of her as a child. I don’t know if it’s because if you have always viewed someone as much older than you, you can’t imagine them any differently. Or imagine how they existed before you.
I’m 26 years old and I’m starting to notice lines on my forehead. I’m in two minds about them, I don’t know if they are necessarily a bad thing. They tell stories. Stories of good and hard times. Stories of things that I’ve learned. As they start to become more defined I may begin to feel differently about them.
What will it be like to be an ‘old person’?
It’s strange to think that I will one day be viewed as an ‘old person’. It’s scary to think that there will come a time when I will know that I have lived more years than I have years to live. I think that what makes this harder is the way that society views older people, especially older women.
Women are valued for their youth and beauty, once that’s gone, it seems society forgets about them.
The people that love them don’t, but society and the media in general doesn’t value the old, despite the fact that ageing is one of the things people all have in common.
My sister Rachel met a buddhist nun who said that when she turned 50 it was like she became invisible. A part of me fears this. That there will come a time when my youth has run out and I won’t be as valuable to society. I think the fact that women are made to feel this way shows that there is something seriously wrong with our world.
Despite getting older, I still feel much the same on the inside.
Yes, I’m learning a lot and I know more of who I am now than I did when I was 18, I like myself more, but I still feel much the same.
A part of me still feels like the shy 15 year old girl who just wanted to be ‘normal’ and who was afraid of being judged.
A part of me still feels like the 17 year old girl who was running away from her problems.
A part of me still feels like the 21 year old girl who wanted nothing more than to be ‘successful’, whatever that means.
They are all still there, a part of who I am, a part of my story.
How much time is enough?
“We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.”
― Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
I don’t know where my 26 years have gone. People say that as you get older the years go faster. I feel that.
Will we ever feel that we’ve had enough time? I’m not sure. I guess it’s not necessarily the amount of time that’s important, it’s what we do with it.
Shouldn’t the ‘old’ be valued as much as the ‘young’, if not more? For they know more, they are wiser, they have seen more, faced more challenges, overcome more struggles.
I am as guilty as the next person of worshipping youth, of neglecting the ‘old’. Is this human nature? Or have we been trained to think this way?
One thing is for sure, one day I too will be an ‘old person’. I hope I have one hell of a blinged-out zimmer frame. In fact, I will make sure of it. I also hope that we will have managed to change our view of ‘beauty’ and ‘ageing’ by the time I dominate bingo in my future rest home.