Friday, April 5, 2013

Aging: Where am I? What's going on?

I've been contemplating the meaning of growing up and getting older for a while now (ok, like 28 years). I don't always delve too deeply into a subject, but I thought this one would make a great blog post.

It's strange getting to that place in life where you're not a kid anymore, but you're also not "old". I'm not quite sure what to make of it. When I was very young, 7 or 8, I couldn't imagine life after 18. Silly, since my parents were well past that age, but in a child's mind, adults have just always been adults. It didn't help that my dad had been bald since the age of 21, so I just figured once you got past 18 you were simply old.

Well, ten years have past, my high school reunion is coming up, and life keeps moving. The lyrics from Phoenix's song "Countdown" are making a whole lot of sense now. Do you remember when twenty one years was old? I'm at a place in my life, though, where it's just all confusing. The kids I take care of think I'm ancient and older people think I'm just a kid. My boss' friends & clients always tell me they thought I was much younger, whatever that means. And then there's the ever-increasing life expectancy of my generation; the scientific breakthroughs; the maturity-stalling chasms of the internet. Let's be honest, no one ever becomes wiser from looking at cat gifs all day.

I don't feel totally immersed in this thing called adulthood, but I also don't feel young either. It's a little terrifying, being on that cusp. You've been a kid your whole life and now you just aren't. There are fewer tutus available in your size and it's time to stop crying in public. It kind of feels like you're losing something that has always defined you; like your eyes have changed color or you're no longer French (or Greek, or Japanese, or whatever).

ranunculus, spring, flowers, bouquet, petals, peach, yellow

I recently ran into two of my high school English teachers while shopping downtown. They were coming out of Nordstrom and I was both excited to see them and surprised by how much younger they looked than I remembered. I introduced myself (I've changed a lot since high school, so I have to do that) and found myself explaining this. It was one of the few times I'm pretty sure I managed not to insult someone by bringing up their age. I explained, as a high schooler, everyone over the age of 45 may as well be 95. I told them they both looked amazing and not a day over 45. They chuckled and were polite, but I think they were still trying to figure out who I was. 

I'm not certain how old Mrs. Crommet & Mrs. Duffey really are, but when I get to whatever age that might be, I hope to be like them. Yes, I want to be a terrifying, beautiful, grammar Nazi, maybe because it's actually my job, maybe just because I like making people follow rules. Also, I want gleaming white hair, just like their's. 

Things I've learned since turning 28:

I can't tell what age anyone is anymore
 I don't know what old is anymore
I have a knack for insulting people when trying to guess their age (Stop making me guess!)
Teachers I thought were "like 80" when I was in high school now don't look a day over 45
I still feel like an idiot 15 year-old. When does that go away?
There's a lot of gray area; not just young or old
At 28, temper tantrums just as unacceptable as when you were 4
Adults are the creators of cool (suck on that, kids I nanny!)
Thanks to science, the awkwardness of puberty can extend well into your twenties

All these thoughts and ideas point to one conclusion: I'm probably still "young" and pretty much still clueless.

ranunculus, spring, flowers, bouquet, petals, peach, yellowranunculus, spring, flowers, bouquet, petals, peach, yellow

So how do you feel about age? As you've grown, what's your experience been? Do you feel old, young, or just you? Whether you're 16 or 65, I want to hear your take on things!


citizen rosebud said...

Thoughtful post, Catie. I think it was always that way (I remember as a kid anyone over 25 was OLD) but even trickier now- that 50 isn't old anymore! I've met so many amazing and vital 50 years old, who are in the peak of health, that it's hard to ID oneself right? I never wanted to grow up? So lived in the perpetual twilight (hello slacker Gen X girl) of teenaged-dom thinking I could outrun the growing up thing. Then I realized I was just growing old.

Who are you then?

I guess it's that part of yourself that is just you- regardless of body condition or age, just the "watcher" who takes life in. It def changed how I looked at "my elders" I now realize how their experience is relevant to my life- after all they've been where I am just exploring and have lived to stylishly tell the tale.

Content Director - Strong Female Leaders said...

I don't like aging a bit, but do feel that kids aged me faster. Oh well. I remember being 28 - yes, felt the same way, like I was standing at a cross road between young and old. Looking back, I should have had more fun in the last years of my 20's.

I do have to admit this though: my early 30's were the BEST. I felt a lot more confident as soon as I turned 30. It's mind was older (or wiser) but I was still physically strong.

Anywho. Liking this thought-provoking post. And the flowers are so pretty.

The Photogramps said...

Woman. This is an amazing post. I've been thinking about the same thing lately. My birthday was on the 3rd. It's so funny you mention that Phoenix song. I think the EXACT same thing every time I hear it. I feel you on the always feeling like a ridiculous 15 year old too. Something that brings me comfort: my husband is older than I am by 6 years. :) one thing is for sure: I never want to stop being a weirdo as I age...thanks for makin me feel like I'm not alone!!!

Anonymous said...

To me, I think age is only relevant to those who share your same generation. Otherwise, like you said, you will always be old to your kids and young to your parents.

For me, the age factor clears itself up a little bit after you have kids. Caring for a child can make a person "age" (in a good way) in all areas of their lives and in that sense can make a person appear older to everyone.

But I will say, that when we have family get togethers, I still like to sit at the "kid's table". I don't think that ever gets old! LOL


Unknown said...

"I still feel like an idiot 15 year-old." You're not alone! I will be turning 23 this summer and have started experiencing this same thing. The past year I graduated college, started working in the real world (with real adults, ah!) and started grad school. The between phase of girl-woman is very confusing and frustrating; I'm expected to act like an adult with responsibilities, but most adults treat me like I'm a little girl still ("You're only 22? You're still a baby/child/so young/little girl!" I hear that too much..).

Back to your quote.. I have always hoped this awkwardness would fade but have realized it's more of learning to handle situations vs. losing the awkward "OMG he just looked at me, what do I do?" situations. Those are always funny when looking back anyway :)

<3 Casey

MILEX said...

You are the one I like

ktothet said...

Aw! Mrs. Crommet and Duffey scared the bajeesus out of me when I was in high school but they were seriously the most influential teachers.

Great post, Catie. I can't tell what age anyone is anymore either.

Francesca Giusti said...

love this flowers and also your blog! It's so nice!!! I follow you!
Pass to my blog and if it likes you follow me too, I will be so glad :D

Marion said...

Great post~ it's difficult to imagine someone as young as you thinking of aging--being I'm in the over-50 category. Reading your post helped me to see it from a different perspective, that the experience of aging is as relative as age itself. Two very different experiences come to mind--when I turned 35 and 50. Two thresholds that brought life-changing events.

Unknown said...

WOW! This is an incredible post! I couldn't help but agree with the statement about still being or feeling like the idiotic 15-yr old. SAME HERE! I mean, there are a couple things that have changed....I think!

My take is, appreciate every day- don't sweat it or over think the age thing! I feel the more I stress about it, the older I get. I will always be the nerd and goof I am...and I hope that doesn't change! Everything else is a "deal with it as it comes" type basis. It may be the worst advice ever...but it works for me! :) XOXO!


Katherine said...

I have felt the same age for so long - I joke that I've been 40 forever - and have a lot of these feelings. I cannot guess age. I do not comprehend it. Most people think I'm much older than I am (opposite of you) and are surprised to learn I graduated high school after 2000 (apparently I hang out with people who graduated before then) and then compare me to their 22-25 year old brother or friend's brother and how I seem world's older than them. I don't really get age. I don't think a number has to do much with it - I have always related to more people who were technically older than me than people my age. Then again, theere are people much older than me I can't relate to at all! Location has so much to do with all of this too and I don't think people ever think of that. Age seems relative - as in how we relate to people - so it makes sense in high school that teachers seem 90 because relative to you, they kind of are? I hope that makes sense!

Cee said...

Where to begin on this subject! I've always been old for my age, as they say... growing up most of my friends were two years older than me. When I was high school, I related more to some of my teachers in their mid-50s than I did to my classmates, many of whom still seemed like seven-year-olds to me. Now that I'm about six months away from turning 28 myself, I feel like I'm regressing a bit and going through that youthful period of irresponsability that most people experienced ten years ago... while my friends are worried about getting married and starting families, I'm thinking about what country I want to move to next and if we should bother to keep the property we own in Canada. What I've gleaned from this is how little age actually means; my friends ages now are all over the map, because who I have things in common with has much more to do with how people have chosen to spend their lives than how old they are. Three of my closest friends are my age; the other two are 37 and 40, respectively. I'm not sure if it's that I can't tell how old people are anymore, of if I've just stopped wondering/judging people based on how old they are. I think this comment is getting a bit rambly, but basically the point I'm trying to make is age is just a number :) Great post, Catie - you really got us all talking!

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