I recently found myself at a coffee shop for a few moments of personal time in the midst of a very busy season. I scored a lovely table outside in a sunny corner and sat down to enjoy a book and a little quiet when I realized that I was seated just within earshot of a group of college students who were lingering after finishing Sunday brunch. While trying my best to stay focused on my book, I inadvertently found my attention floating in and out of their conversation.
These girls were talking about all the regular college things: professors and administrators who clearly didn’t understand them or their academic need and preferences, roommates, their way uncool moms who apparently don’t use Instagram correctly – and then it struck me: I related more to the uncool moms than I did to these girls.
For years I’ve thought of myself as being in that in-between of fresh out of college/young professional and fully established adult. I guess the past nine years of childbearing and child-rearing were a complete blur. Before kids, I was, in fact, a young professional starting to establish myself in the world. I guess it is time to accept the fact that I’m no longer a young’un. I just hit the mid-thirties, but the forties seem to be barreling towards me.
These years of motherhood and life between young and approaching middle age have changed me. Yes, they’ve made me older and more tired, but they’ve also brought such joy and even peace with myself. I couldn’t help but think that maybe just maybe, this whole aging thing might not be so bad. In fact, there’s a lot to celebrate!
Three Things I’m Loving About Getting Older
My focus is more outward
The teenage and college years are such a self-centered time. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Learning who you are and learning how to be that person is vital to creating a meaningful life, and later adulthood would be much more challenging if we didn’t spend time deciding who we are and what we care about, but all that inward focus can be exhausting. I’m grateful that as I’m getting older, I feel freer to focus outward – on those I love, on caring for and serving, on finding beauty in the world instead of constantly judging or critiquing or comparing myself. I’m not overcome with fear that I’m missing out on the big purpose for my life. I know the world doesn’t revolve around me, but I’m happy to play my small part in (hopefully) making the world a little better and brighter.
I’m more gracious and grateful
I can remember being in college, taking a full load of classes, being involved in clubs and extracurriculars, and having an internship. I felt overwhelmed and exhausted and constantly behind. As I’ve gotten older, I still have a lot to manage (husband, job, kids, friends, community involvement), but I feel more at peace with my expectations of myself and of others. I give my best effort to all the areas I am engaged in (my family, my work, my friends, my community), but I recognize that sometimes I won’t accomplish or measure up to a standard I’d like to…and that’s okay. I’ve had enough experience to realize that the world doesn’t end when I don’t do everything perfectly.
I’m also more grateful now in my “old age”. I appreciate an excellent cup of coffee more than I did in college. I don’t expect things to be given to me that I don’t deserve, but I do notice and appreciate evidences of grace in big and small ways: the angle of the sun in October and April, for example; or the perfect snoball on a hot summer day. Sometimes even the smallest things can feel like the greatest gifts if you are looking for them. And as the years go by, I’m realizing I look more.
I am more confident
I might not be as physically fit or well-rested as I was in my late teens or early twenties, and my body certainly shows the impact of three pregnancies, but I feel more comfortable in my own skin now than I did 15 years ago. I am content with my flaws. I don’t obsess over my imperfections as I did years ago. I can see the wrinkles starting to form, and I don’t mind. My husband found my first gray hair this weekend. I chuckled. I’ve always felt like an old soul, so in some ways I guess my body is just catching up. But even beyond my appearance, I’m more confident and grounded in who I am, what matters to me, what I am doing with my life. I am proud of the work I’ve done over the years to become the person I am today and don’t worry as much about what others think of me as I once did. It is freeing to be able to grow in ways that matter to me without the peanut gallery getting to chime in.
I mean no disrespect to my friends at the coffee shop. I loved being their age. College was a blast. Youth is a gift. But so is age and life and wisdom. Cheers to getting older! As we age, may it be with grace.
What about you? Is there anything you are loving about getting older?