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Getting Older Doesn’t Suck

I am a huge fan of cracked.com, because they serve up a tasty blend of both knowledge and serious funny.  I respect this business model.  Recently, they offered up a piece called 5 Reasons Life Gets Better After 30, by a sassy fella named Gladstone.  Inspired, I thought I’d take a spin at a similar article, aimed at the ladies.

There’s a phrase that can send icicles of fear into a woman’s heart around the time she starts the final lap towards 40.  That phrase is “invisible woman.”  It’s mostly a load of fear induced bullshit designed to make us buy things like Botox, lady skin potions and Spanx, because apparently nobody ever went broke making women feel like shit.  Which leads us to point number one.

1. When you get older, it’s easier to spot bullshit.

All that life experience you’re banking is doing several things.  It’s not only filling your brain with trivia for parties and slowly honing your bullshit detector.  Some folks are lucky enough to be born with a fully functioning bullshit detector, but most of us have to learn the hard way.  The good news is, by the time you’re in your mid-to-late thirties, you’ve been a first-hand spectator to so much bullshit, you’re practically a BS divining rod. This can serve so many useful purposes in your day-to-day, from identifying your teenaged child’s fibs just by looking at them to seeing through the latest bizspeak your boss embraces when he’s about to start firing people. It also makes you less susceptible to the advertising that convinces you you’ll find happiness once you drop a dress size, try this new lip gloss or learn the trick that will drive your man (or woman!) crazy in bed.

2. When you get older it’s easier to be content.

I think there’s an important distinction between happiness, the elusive state of being we’re told is the key to everything, and contentment. Contentment, in my view, is a general satisfaction with the big picture, happiness is an emotion you feel during the really good parts of the trip.  I won’t lie, chances are pretty good life is going to serve you up more than one heaping platter of shit sandwiches.  Shit sandwiches taste the same if you’re 19 or 39, but when you’re 39, it’s easier to realize that good times and bad times come and go, and neither situation is permanent.  This realization makes it easier to appreciate the good moments and easier to hold it together during the bad ones.  Contentment comes from realizing you’re tough enough to handle to rotten times and worthy of the good ones.

3. When you get older, you realize time is a great equalizer.

I’ve struggled with body image my entire life.  From the moment I grew boobs in the sixth grade until more recently than I’d like to admit, it’s been a challenge to live in the skin I was dealt.  I thought getting older would make it worse, but it’s had the opposite effect.  Perhaps I’m just too tired/distracted/busy to worry about it anymore, perhaps I’ve just finally learned that my body can do amazing things in spite of or because of the parts I’ve always considered unsatisfactory, but either way, it’s a lot easier to take myself as I am, warts and all, than it was even a few years ago.

4. When you get older, it’s easier to laugh at everything, including yourself.

Again, this may be filed under “too tired to get worked up,” but it’s easier to find the humor in the things, the more things you have to compare them to.  By the time you’re my age (39) you’ve seen a lot of things.  Big things, little things, shocking things, terrible things, wonderful things and bizarre things.  All those things add up to perspective, and the ability to learn what can be railed against, what can be fixed and what can be laughed at.  Sometimes all three at the same time.

5. When you get older, you give great advice.

I know, I know.  Nobody likes to get advice from an Old.  We all like to forge our own path and make our own mistakes, and busybody Olds get in the way of that.  When you’re old, you won’t give a shit and you’ll give advice anyway.  Why? Because you’ve walked this world a long goddamned time and you couldn’t help but pick some valuable stuff up along the way.  Youngs don’t have to listen to it, but that doesn’t mean we have to keep our mouths closed, either.

Sure, there’s gray hair, gravity, creaky bits and wrinkles, none of which are a laugh riot.  Underneath the superficial bits, however, you’re getting smarter, wiser and more awesome, each and every day.  I think it might be a fair trade.

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

8 replies on “Getting Older Doesn’t Suck”

I’m not going to say getting older doesn’t have its own special brand of demons, but the beauty of those ‘old’ demons is that they tend to be ones that are there because you’re trying to please yourself, NOT other people. They’re kind of your way of negative reinforcement to push you towards your goals and dreams.

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but I’ve been much more content with the person I am–the person who has a really boisterous laugh, talks too loud when she has a few too many, talks too much all the time, is no longer a size 8, knows what she wants to do with her life, greatly appreciates the people she should have been appreciating all along, and lives her life for herself.

Being able to do those things without apology or guilt is one of the most freeing things I could ever think of.

Cannot wait to get out of my twenties. Its getting closer, thank yeezus. No one ever tells you that your twenties are awful, chock full of indecisiveness, insecurity, arrogance, shit jobs and scraping by for the special snowflake dreams.

Not that I think the thirties are magical, but there is something deeply comforting to know that you just stop. caring. after a while. My mother, who was in her early twenties when she had me, said that when she turned 30, it was like a light switched on in her brain that just told her, yea…this is it. Enjoy.

I’m cracking open a Metamucil and toasting to all the Persephone folks who are almost there and to the amazing ladies who have been there and done that.

Agreed. And after 40 you really don’t give a flying f*ck about those other voices. It gets better because you many life experiences under your belt. Yes there are trade offs about the physical aging process, but you come into your own, have established who you are as a person, what your talents and foibles are. It’s still not a smooth ride, but you’re used to the bumps and turns and know how better to navigate them.

I was thinking about how my middle-aged weight gain has affected me. And this is what I had recently realized:

My body has changed dramatically in the past couple years, especially since a year ago. The numbers have doubled for my dress and pant sizes I’ve noted.

It’s okay, I’ve come to terms with what this all means and why it’s happened. It’s sanity before vanity, side effects of the supplements, meds, after effects of a partial hysterectomy, blah blah boring medical stuff.

What has surprised me most is I am no longer an invisible petite East Asian woman. I am still quite short at 5′ 0”, but people notice me now. I can do the walk, where I move through a crowd, refusing to move aside when coming in close proximity of people, and instead wait for them to move out of my way. My added weight gives me more authority when I speak to people in person, from sales to service people. It’s not just self-confidence. There’s a marked change in attitudes.

It’s amazing. I have power when I’m in a crowd.

Still the lunch counter lady only sees the top of my head. Ah reality check.

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