Then I was young and unafraid
I remember singing the aforementioned lyrics/title in the shower when I was 24. Oh, how life had left me behind. If only I’d known then…
Ridiculous, clearly! Because, perspective.
But I find myself doing figuratively, if not literally, the same things as life goes on. And holy freaking cow, to my Facebook life, as all of my ’75 peers turn 39 this year! My guillotine comes in August.
And I know that is also a stupid thing to say. “Do no resent growing old, for many are denied the privilege” is a phrase framed in my apartment, and know all too well. I don’t mean to make light of the gift of life whatsoever – quite the opposite.
“This should occupy 1/40th of your energy,” my boyfriend said to me about a passion du jour. And he’s not wrong. I am for sure extremely compulsive.
But even as I knew he was right, what crossed through my mind is the idea that as we age in this society, there is increasingly little that we’re told we can find energy in, so IMO it gets harder to let things go that trigger our adrenaline.
Nine years ago almost to the date, I started writing my blog. As 30 reared its terrifying head, I refused to get older. Throughout the past decade, I’ve both embraced and written about anything and everything besides maturity, and now that I’m almost 40, I have absolutely no idea what that means.
The 30s are a deceptive era, in that you still roam around with other people that either are younger, look younger, or act younger. Sometimes all of the above.
I’ve been all of the above.
When I was 22, some of my favorite people were 40- or 50-somethings with whom I acted in plays. When I was 24, one of my best friends was 17.
“Age is just a number,” someone said to me yesterday and while I wholeheartedly agree, there is a .01 percentage of my heart that wonders. Age didn’t used to matter, but as “the” target demographic age becomes a more and more distant memory, it’s hard to embrace that theory without self consciously wondering about sour grapes. Even though the person who said it to me last night is older than I am, and eternally youthful both inside and out.
I loved “This Is 40.” I will say that I thought it was a tad too long, but am open to the idea that it needed to be that long, in order to convey the complicated nature of hitting the aforementioned undesirable demographic by society’s standards, as a Gen Xer.
We were the Toys ‘R’ Us kids that never wanted to grow up, yet here we all are. Loathe as I am to reference John Mayer, I really liked his song about wanting to run through the halls of his high school, screaming at the top of his lungs.
Recently, my friend Bobby has been posting pictures and memories of my own high school, and God, do they make me cry. Because to paraphrase Rory Gilmore, did I peak in high school?
Because then, I really was young and unafraid. One of my favorite teachers Mr. Phillips voted me “most likely to win an Oscar for sincerity.” I ran around as a teen like Anne of Green Gables, clutching flowers to my bosom and yearning for a better world, full of excitement.
Now that I’m pushing 40, not much has changed. Yet everything has changed, and is changing around me. My loved ones have suffered a lot, and there is no end in sight to that.
And I simply don’t have the same enthusiasm that I used to. My body hurts when I wake up, and overall I wonder where the heck did my youth go?
But I’ve been a whiny bastard about body pain and existentialism since I was a teen so again, perspective.
And as I look around at my peers and people of every other age, I really do believe that age IS just a number, after all.
I decided not to get old in spirit when I was 13 and felt that the pending high school uniforms were Too Serious. And while Nielsen might not care as much about my opinion nowadays, I see no reason to navigate from that sentiment at this point. Cheers to the hopefully second act of our lives!