“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”
― Gabriel García Márquez
When we are young, we can´t wait to grow old and then we start getting older – beyond the “cute” bracket of older – and then we start doubting, start fearing, start wishing time would move a little slower, or that we would move a little faster. In both these spaces of existence, we are not at peace with where we are and who we are where we are. While in youth we can forgive ourselves for that since, hey, we just little babies – but at as we move through our twenties and on to thirties- if this uneasiness persists, we are setting ourselves up to a more miserable form of existence.
And then it is perhaps more important for us to stop analyzing our age and the passing of time and rather, steer the focus towards our unchanging mindset. You know, the one which has made each age feel wrong and ill-fitting.
I reckon that a lot of the peace we loose over aging can be linked to the way we are socialized in life. We are taught to live our lives in constant comparison to our peers and if that isn´t enough, to those younger than us, doing things beyond what we could imagine to ever dream of. We spend a short part of our life being forever too young – then instantaneously, we start constantly feeling like we are too late and too old for things we desire – or dream of.
While life itself isn´t always a choice, suffering from it or living in peace with it often are things we can not only choose but practice, at any age.
we choose this when we decide to put a lot of focus on the things in our lives that we can not control – other people´s actions, expectation towards us, wishes and desires- disappointments. A good way to manage this is by practicing more mindfulness:
How that would look like in this example could be:
– You are about to turn 28, graduated 7 months ago – been looking for a job but haven´t found any, not even an interview. Life isn´t turning out how it was supposed to even though you feel you did everything right.
What do you do in this example? You choose where to place your focus. You did go to school, you did do what you felt you were supposed to do – good on you! Now, you can´t force people to hire you but you can make the best of the free time you now finally have! You can choose to accept that this is what 28 is looking like for you, in your unique story and experience and that all this (if you choose you thinking/actions carefully) will enrich your life experience in some way.
“Things are not happening against me – they are happening for me”
See, a lot of our disappointment with aging has a lot do with societal and personal expectations rather than the actual process of aging. We need to constantly practice unlearning the ways in which society and external expectations have crept their way into our lives and perception of our lives. When we do so, we must make a commitment to only settle for the perception/mind-frame that sets us up for personal success and well-being.
“Is what I am thinking or how I am viewing things adding positively to my development and progress or is it blocking me and stunting my growth?”
If we are honest with ourselves – we will find that the thoughts that make us grow weary of aging are also often destructive rather than constructive in nature. Choose the frame that sets you up to thrive and grow positively. Find where your power is and play your cards accordingly.
“But I have goals and ambition and I need to get this and that done before this and that age!”
Well good for you! We can still pursue our goals and be ambitious while at the same time respecting the flow of our lives and the stages in which those things happen. You might decide you want to be married at 25 but not find someone who is ideal for you until you are 31. That´s okay. You might have wanted to be done with school at 23 but find yourself going back at 33 for something you are more passionate about – that´s learning and revising the plan as you learn. That´s okay.
“In nature, nothing is rushed, yet everything gets accomplished, in its own time”
So enjoy the ride – enjoy the beauty of each stage of your life as your own unique story develops. Stay in your lane and constantly apply your own context to your life when you are tempted to compare yourself to other age-mates.
“You are exactly where you are supposed to be”
The quicker we are able to make peace with that, the surprisingly better we start appreciating life and the paths it has taken us on, the lessons we have learned and the gifts it has honored us with.
Speaking of gifts, one thing I have really enjoyed adding to my life journey and the celebration of each passing year – is planning, with each new birthday, a gift I want to give future me. I do this by writing down a few things I would like to focus and work on before my next age – this can be a gift pertaining to emotional growth, physical strength, knowledge gain, financial resources, creative endeavors or relationship goals. Than I simply try as best as I can to work on said goals or project until my next Earth day.
By doing this, I ensure that I always have a beautiful personal gift waiting for me in the next chapter of my life. It makes aging more fun, intentional and exciting since I always have something to look forward to or explore for my next birthday.
I would like to end this by saying; we actually often forget how lucky we are, to still be here, with the privilege of complaining about the passing of time. I thought about my big brother and sister who unfortunately passed away before even turning 10 years, how lucky am I to have experienced a quarter-life-crisis? To be soon hitting 30 and to hopefully get to one day create a family and to live a full and well-explored life? Even at 29, I feel fortunate to have been here this long – It might not all have been a cruise or easy sailing, but I grateful for the person I have become because of all that. To still be here, growing, learning and creating.
While it often irks me when people use misfortunate as motivators for us to be more appreciative, sometimes I do see how it helps put our lives and worries into a broader perspective. And sometimes that´s perhaps what we need – a broader lens when it comes to examining our relationship with the passing of time and the opportunity to redefine for ourselves what that is supposed to mean to us personally.
Anyway, I wish you the best of luck on your journey through time – may each passing day help you discover more of the beauty within you and around you. May you find the strength and wisdom to turn your life into a beautiful gift that just keeps giving.