Befriending our ageing selves
The inclination to grow up tracks the path of a parabola curve. As young children the idea of adulthood is seen as one full of possibilities. It is a time when we are overwhelmed with this confidence that we will go to that University, we will be in that NASA shuttle, we would be travelling the world, and we would have found the “love of our life.” Unfortunately for us, as we age, the definition of ‘mess’ goes beyond the confines of our room to include our very lives. Adulthood doesn’t seem as enchanting any more.
This is not to say that we don’t achieve goals or have something worthwhile going on. However, the idealistic childhood gets over and life feels daunting. Suddenly the pleasure of dreaming about plans has come to an end and putting everything to action is not the easiest task. The path of knowing oneself is a treacherous one. More often than not our ageing selves do not stick to the exciting trajectory the child in us had charted out. As we age it is not just wrinkles and crow’s feet around eyes we have to learn to make peace with. Olay can’t acquaint you with your older self. As we get caught in the rat race, we forget to take time out for ourselves. The struggle to make others like us is an outcome of the inner battle we face to contend with ourselves. Mostly there are two outcomes. Either we tend to latch on to our kid selves refusing to take the leap, or as we adult we let go entirely of our young selves causing emotional disarray. Gore Vidal aptly wrote, “...even to ourselves we are strange.” To embrace this strangeness is maybe all ageing is about. Becoming friends with ourselves can be an arduous task, but this reacquainting can also be extremely rewarding.
Don’t drown in reminiscing- All (at least most) of us have some of our fondest memories from childhood, teenage or those flamboyant early twenties. Unfortunately the bullet train of life does not do us the courtesy of halting at our preferred junctions. They were good times and now they are done. Also while one loses oneself in the wonderland of the “golden days,” we tend to forget that maybe the same things that we did then will not give us the same amount of happiness that they did then. The marginal utility curve of booze, all night conversations and meandering through campus lanes is a downward one. So make a collage, call those friends, read that journal but also understand you have become a different person over the years and you need to love and respect the new you.
Middle age can be fabulous-Entering your thirties or even forties does not mean that your best years are behind you. In fact your middle years can be the time when one truly comes of your own. The anxieties of peer and parental pressure have ebbed, and though there are other forms of societal and familial obligations lurking in the shadows, one is at liberty to be the decision maker. It is the time when you realise the person you are and will come to be. Engage with this mature you and appreciate the fruits that ageing has come to bear.
You will not stop ageing- Nope, no matter how much you may try there is no fountain of Elixir. We will age, we are bound to and we shall never stop growing up. Instead of running away from this inconvenient truth, it is better to face your insecurities and fears. We will constantly change from 20, 30, 40, 50, to flabby with dentures till the day we stop breathing. Shedding those inhibitions and becoming friends with your age is a beautiful experience. Add sufficient finance, decent health and a dozen or so people who make you smile and life seems very wonderful indeed.
Keep those passions intact-Yes we all have certain passions that we carry on from childhood. Animated movies, re-reading Lord of the Rings or Enid Blyton, collecting Hot wheels or just powering that Xbox and playing FIFA, these little pleasures of life may seem trivial but help one stay connected to who we were. Being a ‘kidult’ once in a while is needed and helps in not just ridding ourselves of stress but also have a fun friendship with our core self.
As we pass through various stages of life from running in diapers to school, through college, work and starting a family, a large chunk of our circle changes yet within this whirlwind there will be those rare jewels who stay by our side forever. Our own life is like that as well. We evolve through various phases and then there are certain things that stay constant through the stormy seas of life. Just as we give different parts of us to the different circles of friends-new and old, we realise the beauty of befriending both the transformed, ageing us as well as the wide eyed child that continues to reside in our inner recesses. Let us keeps both these friendships thriving.
Prerna Trehan (Author)
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