Archive | May, 2012

Why Getting Older is the Best Worst Thing to Ever Happen to Me

14 May

It’s been a year since I’ve graduated from college, and I’ve realized that some of my memories from my four years there have started to fade. One memory that I’ll always remember, however, is something that one of my favorite philosophy professors told us: she was hunched over the gigantic philosophy book that she was reading from, and she paused, looked up at us and said, “You know what? So many people hate getting old, but I’m telling you…by the time you’re in your forties you’ll realize that you just don’t care what other people think anymore. It’s such a freeing feeling.” I think that I found those words more poignant than the various existentialist philosophers we discussed that semester.

I’ve had a lot of insecurity in my life–I’ll admit that. I think that a lot of women my age deal with similar insecurities just because we’ve been raised in a world where we are constantly taught to question our appearances and lifestyles. What I’ve noticed, however, is a small but significant shift in the way that I view myself and the world recently. This shift is something that I can only assume is related to getting older. I don’t view “getting older” through the traditional sense of how many years one has been alive, but instead through experiences. I think that we all get a little “older” when we find ourselves in situations that challenge our minds and spirits.

I have this extremely weird thing that I do: I try to always buy one item in a ridiculously large container (usually a shampoo bottle) just so that I can measure what my life was like before and after I finished the product. I don’t know when or why I started this habit, but it has become this nice little meditation on what I’m doing with my life, where I’ve come from and where I am now. Here is my almost-out shampoo bottle:

shampoo bottle, big sexy hair

Despite the label, my hair is neither big nor sexy.

When I first bought this, It was back in September. I was living with my grandparents, applying for jobs and had no idea what was going to happen to my life. Now, eight months later (I swear I wash my hair…I don’t know how I made this bottle last so long), good and bad things have happened: I have a job, I am living in a new city on my own, my grandmother has been at the Cleveland Clinic for a month after suffering a heart attack and I am still constantly searching for what my heart wants. Through all of this, I have grown and learned about myself through the experiences that I’ve had. Every time I empty out more of the contents of this bottle, I am reminded of the changes that can happen in such a small amount of time. Time is the measure by which we grow old, and it is also our greatest friend–anything can happen with time. As James Frey said in his novel A Million Little Pieces, “Be patient and wait. Your mud will settle. Your water will be clear.”

Let’s grow old together…let’s welcome the time before us instead of dreading it. Let’s embrace fear, put it in a bottle and watch how it changes over time.

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