I’m feeling old this week. Whenever I get up, there are a few moments where I feel stiff all over. I’m having tendonitis in my shoulder, and so I have limited range of motion. I’ve had some dental work recently and don’t like how that feels in my mouth. And I’m just a bit tired and physically slow so it’s tough to keep pace with my exercise class.
As they say, aging is not for the weak-hearted, but it sure beats the alternative.
It’s also hard to believe that I’m at this mid-life stage. You know, it seems like almost yesterday…
It’s tempting sometimes to long for my younger self, especially when I look at the gorgeous and strong young people around me. But I’m never one to want to go back. So far, I have always liked the Older Susanna better than the younger. I was once as cute and strong as these amazing young people around me, but I didn’t appreciate it then. I might as well have had the body of a 50-year old given how I felt about my appearance.
The same trend continues when I look across my life domains. I’m kind of jealous of the young people that have the stamina to entertain, go out with their friends, and to volunteer/work till all hours and their mental acuity. Yet I also like feeling like I don’t have to do everything, and be everything to all people, at work and at home and that I can turn the ticker tape in my head to off or mute. I also like the feeling that I am secure in my relationships with my friends and family. I can let those relationships be what they are and just enjoy them.
In summary, I enjoy my life so much more given that I take so much less for granted. I’m also much better at being present, so I’m less worried, stressed or upset about the past or future.
I think the hardest part for me professionally is feeling a lack of mentors. I have always actively developed and valued relationships with those more experienced and wise than me, and had several that I could go to when I needed advice or an ear. My mentors are all, well, retired or I’ve moved to different areas of interest. I AM the mentor now for a number of people. But who advises me now?
On the personal side the hardest part is missing the daily interaction of the larger family. I understand that as we age we tend to become increasingly isolated, especially as our friends and family start to pass. Isolation is a potential threat to our wellbeing. Yet I also enjoy having a quieter house and that time to myself that an empty nest provides.
In the end, life is full of trade offs. I don’t envy young people. They have their struggles, most of which I do not want to return to. I don’t envy those older than me either, even if they are retired. I’m sure that comes with its own opportunities and challenges. I guess I’ll just enjoy where I am now, for one day it will feel as fleeting as my youth.
Susanna’s Comparative Life Table
|Youth – Assets||Physical peak, form and function||Education fresh, mind alert and active. Plenty of mentors||Energy for socializing and entertaining||All potential, yet still able to enjoy all those great moments||Relatively more idealistic|
|Challenges||May over rely on strength and stamina
Relatively low body image
|Relatively poor at prioritization; tries to do it all||Relational skills still in development||Daily challenges of raising children; still having conflict with siblings||Relatively low self-confidence and fewer emotional resources|
|Mid-Life – Assets||Efficiency, strategy. Better appreciation for assets||Experience, patience, better able to prioritize. Giving back as mentor||Skills well developed; perspective on what’s important||Enjoy fruits of child-rearing||Self-confidence and self-awareness|
|Challenges||Beginning loss of function||Must prioritize. Mentors harder to find.||Meet relatively fewer people, less opportunity for “hanging out”||Daily challenges of managing parental care||May be less apt to change, beginning loss of function|