These past few weeks have been absolutely crazy. I’ve barely had time to stop and think let alone write much of anything. Work ramped up in the new year, I have a show opening this weekend, so my rehearsal schedule has been intense, and my parents were visiting for two weeks, so I spent what little free time I had with them. This isn’t really anything new, for as long as I can remember I’ve been involved in many different things and there are always periods when it gets a little overwhelming and all I want to do is hibernate for a week or two. But something has felt different lately: I’m starting to get tired.
Now I know I may cause some eyes to roll if I start complaining about feeling old at 26, but I’m starting to notice a perceptible shift. I’m aging, and I can feel it. Last night when I climbed into bed, I could feel every tired muscle in my body slowly begin to relax, making me acutely aware of just how tired my body was. When I look in the mirror now, I see an adult face, not the face of a teenager. A few small wrinkles appear next to my eyes when I smile. I can start to imagine what I might look like and how I might feel in 10 years, and I’m discovering that I’m ok with it.
When you’re a teenager, you think of adults as uncool, out of touch, and old. In college you learn to respect adults much more, as the reality that you soon will be entering the adult world starts to set in. But you still feel young, and your idea of adulthood combines your youthful beauty and energy with the wisdom you glean from your professors and bosses. You imagine yourself as a hip young professional who rents her own apartment and pays her bills, but goes out to parties and has a lust for life.
Maybe it happens at different times for everyone, and maybe it’s not determined by age, but rather by life events (such as getting married, having children) or physical changes (injuries, your first gray hair), but at some point you begin to realize that you’re getting older and youth won’t last forever.
I’m entering this realization stage now, and so far I’m excited by it. I’m excited to get married next year. I’m excited to start a family. I’m excited to buy a house. I’m excited to have a life that I’ve built for myself with my future husband. I’m less excited about the prospect of arthritis and a slowing metabolism, but I suppose I’ll have to take the good with the bad and just try to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
Since I’m just noticing the first hints of age, I thought it might be helpful to think about the things I want to accomplish while I’m still young, and also find things to look forward to as I continue the inevitable aging process.
Things to Do While I’m Still Young
I haven’t done much traveling in my life. I’ve been to about 15-18 states, Canada when I was very young, and in college I took a trip to Paris. When I say I want to travel, I don’t necessarily mean international travel. I don’t need to go to exotic lands and immerse myself in foreign cultures (though it certainly would be fun). What I do want to do is at least see more of my own country. I go on the occasional business trip, but they don’t often send me to very interesting places. It would be nice to see and experience some new things while I’m still young and before my life gets complicated with children.
Save a ton of money
As we all know, saving as much money as you can early in life is hugely important because that money will have a long time to grow. And since I want to be a stay at home mom at least while my children are very small, I need to save even more money to make up for lost income.
I will likely have to take a lengthy break from theatre when I’m raising children, and when I have the freedom to get back into it, I might not be as good a dancer, or as good a singer. I won’t be up for the same parts any more. If I want to play Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof, I’ve got to do it before I have kids. I’m starting rehearsals tonight for Little Women, so there’s a nice role I’ll probably never get a chance to play again!
Be happy with my body
With proper diet and exercise, I will hopefully be able to keep in pretty good shape as I get older, but never again will I have a young body, so I need to start appreciating it more. I may not be as skinny as I’d like, my nose may be bigger than I’d like, but it’s me, and that’s just fine. If I’m not happy with my body now, how can I ever expect to be happy with my body after I’ve had a couple kids, I get wrinkles and gray hairs and my skin loses its youthful glow?
Things I’m Looking Forward To
The whole point of saving a ton of money now is so I’ll be able to work less when I’m older. Once we’ve built up a comfortable nest egg, I’ll have more freedom to pick a job I truly enjoy rather than one that pays well, or I’ll be able to cut back my hours and spend more time pursuing my hobbies.
Getting adult roles
While the young roles I’m after now will be going away, a whole array of adult roles will open up to me. True, I’ve played plenty of adult roles in youth theatre, but somehow I’m pretty sure I couldn’t quite do them justice as a teenager. It’ll be fun to revisit adult roles I played when I was younger with a fresh perspective. I’ll probably have a lot more to bring to the Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music when I’m 60 than I did when I was 16.
Complaining about “kids these days”
Be honest: you love complaining about how kids have it so easy today and when you were a kid you had to walk uphill both ways through the snow to go to school. I can’t wait to bore my children with stories of how primitive my life was when I was their age. One day I hope to be that old lady on a rocking chair on the porch yelling at the neighborhood kids. Ah, dreams.