I was one of those children who spent her childhood wishing she was an adult. I would stare longingly at the “grown ups” at family functions, aching to be old enough to join them. I imagined myself as an adult – a sophisticated blonde with long red nails and a BMW (no joke). All I wanted was to be 21. And oh, how I regret that now. I spent so much of my young life with the desire to be older, and now that I’m older I long to be a child. Wouldn’t it be amazing to go back? To have an hour a day designated just for naps. To run around without the goal of getting fit or thin. To go to a party dressed as a princess and spend the afternoon eating marshmallows. Wouldn’t that be the life!
In all honesty I feel grossly unprepared for adulthood. No one tells you how difficult it really is to be a grown up! As children we watched the older people around us make things happen. Lunch appeared on the table with no thought as to who made it, who bought the ingredients for it, and how the money was made for us to eat. It was simple. As one grows older, so does one’s responsibilities. Now you’re the one at Woolies every Sunday buying groceries, and drawing up a budget, and considering which life insurance to go for. This shit is hard man!
Of course, I’m being facetious (although no doubt about it, if I could spend a day as a child again I would do it in a heart beat). But this constant longing for adulthood has left me with a lot of regret – I wish I had just enjoyed being a child while I could. However it has also taught me not to do the same now. Wishing away your current life for something in the future (or past) stops you from enjoying what you have now.
We live in a society where youth equates to beauty. Women (and men) are terrified of getting old. People spend a small fortune on lotions, potions, supplements and vitamins, all in the pursuit of the elusive ‘elixir of youth’. It seems our worst fear is that we reach the age of 40 and we actually look 40. We don’t even stop to think that getting older is a privilege. Longevity is a gift denied to so many. As it stands, the average life expectancy in Africa is 52 years. Botox and face lifts aren’t going to change that fact.
It is my 26th birthday next month and that makes me rather uncomfortable. I’m closer to 30 than I am to 20, and, despite what I said in the previous paragraph I AM scared of getting old. I’m scared of the responsibilities and expectations, I’m scared of creaky knees and babies. But fear, no matter how much, does not stop time, and certainly won’t keep me 21. It will just keep me living my life as an afraid individual, which is worse than aging.
I always joke that I would love to be 21 forever. Having said that though I am so much more confident in who I am and what I want now than I ever was at 18, or 21, or even 24. Each passing year is an opportunity for growth, to learn, to become the person you want to be. I don’t want to spend each birthday depressed, longing for a chance to turn back the clock. I want to embrace each birthday, and be grateful that I get more time to do the things I want to. Not easy, but I endeavour to try.
This post was inspired by something I saw on Facebook this morning – a status update by Lady Gaga. This is not the place to voice an opinion about her (although I’m just putting it out there that I’m a fan) but this is what she said:
“Thank you, 28. Every year I get a little tougher. A little stronger. Even if at first I feel weary, or weaker. Beautiful life always challenges us to see that we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of who we are. I’m just getting started. I gotta whole lotta fight left in me. Bring it, 29.”
I love her attitude to getting older, and no matter what you think of her I’m sure you can agree that this is a pretty great way to look at aging.
So from today I’m going to try something new. I’m not going to dread my birthday. I’m not going to fear getting older. And I’m not going to wish I could go back or forward in time. Let’s see how that goes.
Thanks for stopping by ❤