Get up to $45 in FREE Postage at Stamps.com use code COUPON1. expires 12/31/12

Reflections on Aging

agingThese 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

Travel

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.

Theatre

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

Working less

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.

12 Responses to Reflections on Aging

  1. As some one much older (66 years old), I am still excited about everything! I like my career (teaching) for the last 12 years. I am looking forward to retiring again and actually planned it out. You may want to check it out (posted yesterday).

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      There’s so much to be excited about! For me, theatre is my passion, but it’s also a real time sink since I do it on top of working a full time job. Once I’m financially independent, I won’t need to work full time, so I’ll be able to pursue my passion and still have free time to relax a bit. I can’t wait!

  2. I love posts like this (I just did a similar reflection on turning 30 ekk). I too would like to stay home with my kids when they’re young (until they can talk at least, I have irrational fears of my kids being abused and not being able to tell me, weird I know). I’m hoping all the hard work now will lead to some extra savings and ability to do the things I want to do later. Good luck with little women, one my all time favorite books!

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      I tend to worry about worst case scenarios as well. Mostly though, I want to be a stay at home mom because I want to be the one raising my kids. If my only option is to work full time and put my kids in day care, I’m not sure I’d really want to do it – I want to be there for my kids when they’re learning to crawl, walk, talk, read, and be the one who helps them achieve all those things. All the hard work and savings now will definitely be worth it!

      I’m doing the musical version of Little Women. I haven’t read the book since 7th grade, so I’ll have to go back and re-read it. There’s not a whole lot of character development built into the script, so the book will be crucial!

  3. TRAVEL TRAVEL TRAVEL. I’ve always looked at traveling as something to do before you have kids or when they move out.

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      My fiance really wants to rent an RV and drive across the country visiting as many states as we can. That trip probably won’t happen until after our kids move out, though. I don’t think we’ll be able to take that much time off from our lives in the next couple of years. Our next big trip will probably be our honeymoon, but we haven’t decided where to go yet. So far we’ve only talked about Hawaii.

  4. Definitely travel before you have kids! That is one thing that I wish I would have done a lot more of when I was younger. Unfortunately, I was a starving actor so it made it difficult. Definitely do any touring shows now too. It will be much harder as you age!

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      Unfortunately I don’t get paid to do theatre. I work full time and do theatre as a hobby, so touring shows aren’t really an option. But we definitely want to go on a few trips before we have kids!

  5. Good post! Travel and save as much money as you can now. Speaking as a father, travelling becomes much less enjoyable and more hectic when little ones enter the picture.

  6. Not everything that comes with age is necessarily bad. Whilst your body might start getting a bit more wrinkly, your experience and wisdom grow. I’ve found this leads to an unexpected clarity of thought and the ability to see problems much more clearly than I had when I was a youth, (I’m 40).
    It’s good that there’s at least one worthwhile compensation!

Leave a Reply to Gen Y Finance Journey Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>