I’ve been thinking a lot about getting older lately. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was Abe’s long awaited graduation. Or maybe it is the realization that my LITTLE sister is having a baby, or thinking about my upcoming birthday next month.
I remember when 21 sounded “so old.” Each year after that has also sounded old. Older than ME, at least. I’m slowly getting more used to these upper 20’s and I realize that while I’m not OLD, I am getting old-er. And it is a strange feeling. I am about to hit that timeless age of 29 that no one wants to pass. Is it because it is a great age, or is it the last “young” age before jumping off to 30? When I think of other people being 30, they seem young, but for me it still sounds a little strange. I guess I never thought it would be me.
When I was younger, say high school and college, people would talk about how YOUNG I was. I think I took it as a compliment, as if it was a wonderful character trait I possessed. They would tell me of the time when they were young like me. I’m not sure I quite believed it. When you are young, it is hard to realize that those who are not young were once young like you, and that if you are lucky enough to get older, you will one day be like them. It is hard to imagine when you are in wonderful shape that one day you will have wrinkles. And maybe high blood pressure, heart disease, or dementia.
Here are some pics of the last almost-decade. Can you see any changes from year to year?
(After college graduation, age 21)
(First year of dental school, age 22)
(wedding, age 24)
(Graduation, age 26)
(birthday, age 27)
(Recent picture, age 28)
Luckily, I know I still am young and look even younger (my patient’s remind me of this quite frequently, usually with an air of distrust). But I’ve had some thoughts as I reach the last year of my twenties.
-I thought that this was supposed to be “my prime.” I wonder if mine somehow passed me by. I am more out of shape than ever. Simple things like running a single mile can kick my butt. And suddenly I can’t eat whatever I want without noticing. For the first time in my life, I am limiting myself in what I eat, and having a harder time than ever keeping my weight stable. My doctor told me I am now “middle aged.” I thought I had another 10 years or so before I got there but he assured me that I am there already. Depressing. I guess what he meant was that at this age things are getting harder and I will have to work harder to stay in the same condition I was in before. Add in the stress of residency, bad cafeteria food, late nights and early mornings, and a little hormone called cortisol for an extra challenge. Ugh.
(A few years before turning middle aged, probably about 25. I’m the really cool looking one on the far right)
-I am also starting to wonder when I need to leave the “junior’s” section at the department stores. It is starting to feel a little silly shopping next to the 13 year old girls, but it feels a little more awkward shopping next to older (I almost said middle-aged) moms, business women, and grandmas. Besides, most of the clothes in the “women’s” section seem not quite me (particularly the jeans!). I can’t help but wonder if it is like being tan. Does anyone ever decide they are “too tan?” There are certainly people who get there (as seen very obviously in the recent news), but it happens so gradually it must be hard to realize because people often don’t seem to know when to stop. I have been thinking of the junior’s section in the same way. Do you suddenly wake up one day and think, “Nope, today I am a woman!” and turn down the other aisle towards high waisted pants and shoulder pads? I kind of doubt it. But I also don’t want to be one of those creepy moms who dresses like her teenage daughter and can’t give up that she is way too old for some of the latest styles. If anyone knows the magic age, please let me know.
-I find myself wishing for my 21 year old body (or even my 25 year old body). The good ole’ days when I ran miles, played lacrosse about 20 hours per week, still felt guilty when I didn’t go to the gym to lift weights and do more cardio on top of that, and was thin while eating as much as the guys I hung out with.
And then I remember, I wasn’t completely happy with myself then, either. My biggest insecurity since college has been my stomach after a roommate and boy I dated told me it was “funny.” Before that I don’t remember thinking about my body too much. I guess I am pretty impressionable. And have a long memory.
Now I’d like to go back (to my less funny stomach). It doesn’t seem to suck in quite like it used to.
I guess with age I am also realizing that I need to be happy with myself and not focus so much on looks or being perfect. Look how happy I was (about age 2), chubby cheeks, tummy, and all!
I hope to get in better shape, maybe tighten up my tummy some more, and get healthier, but I also hope to worry less and enjoy what life has to offer in the years to come.