I don't like getting older. I even obsessed about it as a child. When I was around 7, I remember asking my dad if you get to choose your age when you go to heaven, and he said yes. Every year I would choose my current age, because I was sure that the next year would be worse.
I had a plan for what I would do when I got old: I would use Oil of Olay to prevent wrinkles, Clairol to dye my hair, and Coast soap to bring me back to life--because that was their slogan, which I took literally. That shows you the power of advertising.
I didn't consider myself middle-aged until I turned 43. I'm immature for my age in a lot of ways because I still live the life of a college student--a night owl with no children and no spouse whose work revolves around the academic calendar.
Although my mind is still somewhere in my 20's, my body has proceeded at a normal developmental pace. Once I hit 43, I became far-sighted. My knees hurt all the time--not just after playing tennis 5-6 times in a row. I started dying my hair.
I don't want other people to get older, either. Every year I tell my niece that she has to stay the same age. Whenever I leave my parents' house, I feel anxious at the thought of seeing them sick or debilitated someday. I am terrified of losing them. I got a glimpse of what it would be like when my dad was depressed, and I did not handle it well.
I try to practice gratitude, self-compassion, and mindfulness to accept the aging process. I try to remember what I have to be thankful for in this moment, try to enjoy my blessings while I have them. I tell myself that lots of people have these fears--it doesn't make me crazy. It doesn't mean I'm a bad person.
It helps some. But I'm still afraid.
There are only two things that I look forward to about getting older. One is that I will continue to become a better therapist because I will have seen more clients, had more life experience, and will possess more wisdom.
The other thing is that my writing will improve for the same reasons. I have wanted to write a book since high school. In the 10th grade we had a writing assignment where we had to project what we would be doing in the future. I wrote a mock interview where I was 45, answering questions about my book.
So it's no coincidence that I made my first effort to publish my writing through blogging at the age of 44. I realized that if I wanted to make something happen for myself, I had to start now.
So I guess that's one good thing about being middle-aged: as you reflect on the first half of your life, you realize what you have to do to make the most out of the second half.