Perhaps this is an odd subject for a month of expressing gratitude. I completely understand that. But bear with me. At least the idea made sense in my head…
I generally find the concept of age very interesting, mostly because we tend to throw such a fit over it. The first assumption is the obsession so many have to prevent aging, to deny the years they’ve spent in this world like it’s a scab to try and cover up. Or, more appropriately, a wrinkle.
Or there’s young people longing to grow up as fast as possible. I’m still appalled by the stark difference between middle schoolers when I was one myself, to what that demographic is now, essentially a social media savvy group that knows how to apply makeup perfectly, wear clothes meant for those twice their age, posing on Instagram like full-time models.
We have a pressure to want to move forward to what comes next, when we can vote, when we can legally drink, until we get to the point where we want it all to stop. We regret wanting to rush through life until we’re left only with our nostalgia and efforts to revert back to the “glory days.”
I feel very awkward about this concept, mostly because I’ve never felt I resonated with the age attached to my existence. I’ve always had difficulties relating to peers in their priorities and interests. Even now, when I take the time to realize I’m only twenty years old, I’m outright appalled. Only my slow (very slow) transition to looking less awkward (as a disguise for always being awkward) would prove I’ve changed much. Most people who meet me even comment on the fact they wouldn’t guess I’m only twenty.
Although we don’t consider it, there are many different ages we possess: our physiological and emotional ages can be very separate from one another. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you aren’t mentally mature, and vice versa.
We will all face many struggles in our lives, but when those actually transpire and how we react to those experiences dictate how we grow and “age.” So maybe you’ve had a rough time but you hold grudges, you assume victimhood, and you keep falling into the same mistakes time and time again. You didn’t necessarily learn the lesson you needed to from that. Maybe it will take more time for you to reach a conclusion and move forward.
I do find a sense of comfort in calling myself an “old soul,” but I also see my mental age originating in my tumultuous personal journey I continue to walk every day. The emotional toil I’ve taken has aged me. Some might see that as a travesty that I never really got to experience the sense of feeling young and wild, but here is where my gratitude comes in.
I am grateful for every aspect measuring my existence. I’m grateful for the times that has passed in my short life and the promise that brings to what might come tomorrow and every day I’m granted. I’m also grateful for maturing emotionally, that I can view the world from a perspective that tends to see beyond the momentary circumstances, to find gratitude in unlikely places, to seek and understand like-minded souls that resonate with and support me.
My gratitude doesn’t overlook the challenges. The times I’ve felt isolated in a crowd of people who I should in all rights be able to connect with and enjoy exceed any digits. Or the existential crisis we all face trying to figure where the heck we’re supposed to be, what direction to go, a traveler whose map just blew away in a harsh breeze.
But I’m grateful for every bit of existence I can grasp. Rather than fearing the physical effects of aging, I want to celebrate every year that may pass, every moment that comes my way. Much easier said than done, but time has a way of rushing past the second we start thinking we’re stuck, that things are taking forever, that we’ll never move on from one stage and go onto the next. I’ve done that enough already.
My gratitude now will hopefully become a motivation to realize the simplicity of this exact moment, never being any younger, currently being the oldest you’ve ever been. What a strange illusion time is. Anxious tendencies have me worrying about fictional scenarios years in advance, but this age, this moment, is beautiful. I am grateful for the past and all it has taught me. I am grateful for the promise of the future and all the lessons it will continue teaching me.
But today, right now, I’m grateful for this moment. Typing on my computer. Listening to Regina Spektor. Wearing orange pants. A student among others sitting in the library with headphones in their ears. Preparing for a class in ten minutes. And just doing my best. Wanting to make a positive impact.
How do you feel about age? What role, if any, does it play in your mindset?
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie