I turned 35 in January and this has been the first year that I have really started to feel the age thing setting in. I have noticed the start of wrinkles, changes in skin elasticity, changes in metabolism, and then there was the day that I heard a relatively newlywed girl at church describe me to another person as "the lady with the dark short hair".
Who would I call a lady? If it were someone around my same age I would call her a 'girl'. A lady would certainly be someone considerably older. It was then that I was forced to face the fact that to these younger 'adults', I was considerably older.
The thing is, I don't feel old - at all! In fact, sometimes I look at my life and think - what happened? I still feel like a twenty something person. How did I get from there to a Mom whose baby is starting Kindergarten, whose oldest child is starting middle school, and who has been married for thirteen years???? That is a longer period of time than I spent in the public school system! Why does it seem that time passes us by more and more quickly the older we get?
As I have been evaluating all of these things I came across a statement made by one of my neighbors (again, thank you Facebook) who is a few years older than me. She said "I firmly believe that my best years are ahead of me."
Her comment has made me think a lot because I have never considered this possibility. It is not that I sit around complaining that my best years have past - but so often I get sucked into the 'daily grind'. I go about doing the things that I am supposed to do. Usually I accomplish them in an acceptable range of 'the best of my ability' and then I go to bed, only to get up and do it again. What I often fail to appreciate is that with my daily struggles comes a lot of growth.
My grandmother, who is in her nineties frequently tells me "you learn how to live when you are ready to die". Though this is a bit dramatic, I absolutely agree. The more experience that we achieve in life, the greater our knowledge base becomes. The greater our knowledge base becomes, the more ability we have to fully understand situations that we have to face. With aging comes the invaluable knowledge of how to live.
I can clearly see the benefits of aging when I look back at my 25 year old self. I will admit - I was inexperienced, unaware, and often kind of dumb. I understand myself, my situations, and others so much more now - and it is only through growing older, and experiencing the trials that have accompanied this process that a better version of myself has been able to emerge.
My grandmother also tells me that one of her favorite decades was her 70's. She didn't worry about body image because she was 'supposed to look kind of lumpy'. Her hair was easy to do because she went with the 'old lady' curl and set, which was what worked best anyway. She quit worrying about make up because she 'was supposed to look like an old lady for crying out loud'. She didn't need to shop for new clothes because she had decades worth of things and the older stuff was back in style. Her health was still reasonably good so she started taking some college classes and she traveled.
So here I am at 35 - which my daughter so graciously pointed out is, in fact, half-way to seventy. Instead of making me feel old - I think this is kind of inspiring. I have plenty of time to make plans for some fun stuff in the year 2044, and until then - I will keep on learning how to live.