25 Jan 2018

Thoughts on Aging

Reddit users weigh in on the advice they wish their younger selves had known.

A friend forwarded this Reddit page which highlights what people wish they had known about aging.

Some particularly moving perspectives:

Time Starts to Move Quickly

My great grandma tried to warn me about this.. I didn’t understand at the time seeing as I was at my high school graduation party and time seemed endless. She said to me that when you’re young time seems endless you can think about your day in minutes that pass by. As you age you watch those minutes turn to what feel like seconds, hours will pass like minutes. In your adulthood you’ll see days pass like seconds on your wrist watch. I asked her how fast time passed for her, she told me how she would feel as if she felt like she lost months at a time as she day dreamed of her past.

The years are short, days are long.

53 here. Your body will decline, yes, and if you don’t use it you will DEFINTELY lose it. Do something every day, even if it’s just taking a walk. But in return you gain something very valuable: wisdom and chill. Wisdom isn’t intelligence–it’s not like I turned 50 and could suddenly do differential equations. Wisdom is meeting someone and knowing just what their agenda is. Wisdom is being able to tell when someone’s trying to manipulate you and turning it around on them. Wisdom is realizing that when someone shows you their true nature, you should believe them. And you do get chill. The little things that drove you absolutely bugfuck when you were 25 are not worth stressing about. You think to yourself, “Do I want to die on this hill?” The answer is usually no. And you stop giving fucks and that’s wonderful. You give zero fucks about what people think of you because you’ve learned that, for one thing, people are pretty much only thinking about themselves, and two, you’ve lived your life as you’ve lived it and other people’s opinions haven’t affected it or you. They don’t have to live your life or live with your choices. You do. So do what you want with your life and what is right for you. I know people my age who did what was expected of them and now they are bitter and miserable and hateful. And they know (but won’t admit) that it’s their own damn fault and that they are stuck living the rest of their lives with the results of their choices.

The fact that I don’t feel older, it’s just that younger people seem even younger.

On Parents

That try as you may, you’re never fully prepared for your parents to get older. Somehow I still half expect my mom to be able to do certain things and it’s disheartening that she can’t. Even more so that she lacks the ambition and drive to do much.

My parents recently took me to where they have reserved their burial plots. The area is stunningly gorgeous, in the Colorado mountains, but the whole thing made me sad. Dad joked about him and Mom spending all of my inheritance money in the next 10-15 years. I looked at him and said, “Do it.” I want them to enjoy themselves, and that makes me happier than thinking about whatever money/stuff I’ll get when they pass on. Crap, their growing old still hits me in the gut.

One of my scarier moments was the time I realized I was now stronger than my dad. We were moving some furniture and he took the heavier end out of habit, couldn’t lift it all that well, we switched sides after a few yards and I found I could lift that end just fine. We both knew what happened, but we never spoke of it. The silent shame of age.

This is a real moment for a lot of guys. When you are little, you want to be bigger and stronger than your dad, but when you eventually are, you kinda wish you weren’t.

That try as you may, you’re never fully prepared for your parents to get older. Somehow I still half expect my mom to be able to do certain things and it’s disheartening that she can’t. Even more so that she lacks the ambition and drive to do much.

On Hearing

OH! And you know all of those metal concerts??? Tinnitus is a bitch!

I’m 58 and was in broadcasting for 35 years with the headphones CRANKED every day for a 4 hour show and a 2 hour production shift. My nickname at work is “What?”.

Losing your hearing. I guess I was warned about it, but I had a desk job after college, and I spent a decade with earbuds listening to music everyday while I worked. Now my hearing is fucked. I struggle discerning specific sounds in a crowded bar, to the point I don’t even try to converse with the people around me.

It will happen to all of you youngins - as you start into your 30’s, you will notice your hearing starts to get a bit more challenging (along with other weird aches and pains that you realize may never totally go away).

On Health

The part where hurting yourself as a kid can have long term negative side effects. I played football in highschool only, had 4 concussions at least and busted both of my shoulders. Now in my late 20s I get migraines and the doctors said I have the shoulders you would find on a 80-90 year old man.

By my mid to late 30s they said I will need a shoulder replacement on both arms ideally. If I knew that when I was 14 I would’ve done theatre or math club or anything that didn’t involve physical violence. I can barely sleep now because of the pain, I’d rather know how to act and sleep instead of saying I played football, it was a waste of time and now it negatively affect me every day. Every. Day.

I played a least one season of soccer from age 4 to 22 every year and then some small leagues once I hit 24. Now sitting at 40 my right knee sounds like a bowl of Rice Krispy’s if I bend it just right.

I occasionally get depressed (nothing serious) about it. I used to be an avid runner and beach vollyball player. Now my body refuses to let me do either of them.

The part where all those broken bones, torn ligaments, injuries that never healed correctly, imperfect posture, terrible lift form… all build up and then eventually explode as you get older. It sucks.

You can often prevent, but rarely go back. It applies to skin, joints, and many other issues.

Do this. My aunt lived in the sun/tanning beds and now looks like a leather handbag at 50. But like, a really shitty old one.

My sister refused to listen to my parents telling her to walk properly when she was a kid, walked on the side of her feet all the time, sat cross legged. Wouldn’t do shoes up properly just trod the backs down and shuffled everywhere. Refused to wear sensible shoes in her teens and tottered everywhere in heels. Part of it is a family issue with bunions and rotated toe joints, but a lot of it was down to her laziness and refusal to put the effort in to correct the problem.

She now has chronic foot and knee pain, that is slowly spreading to her hips and back where everything is misaligned and just keeps getting worse.

She’s 22. I dread to think what it’ll be like when she is actually old.

I always overlooked prevention and maintenance because I had “good skin”, or “good metabolism”, or “strong bones”, or “healed quickly”.

Today I write this with two knee surgeries from playing sports with no care to strengthen or recover, a spine that requires a lot of maintenance to function properly because of years sitting in front of a computer with bad posture, a few chunks taken out of my back because of years of not wearing sunscreen, GI issues from a terrible diet growing up. It pays to eat well, rest and take care of yourself. It took me too long to realize I was my biggest investment.

I’m only 28 but I wish someone would have said how important it is to stay limber. Just bending over in the morning I am so tight and stiff. Thank god it doesn’t hurt badly, yet, but I know hat’s right around the corner. I’m trying to get into yoga and stretch every night before bed.

Teeth. Take care of your teeth because it’s painful and expensive work if you need you’re whole mouth worked on just because you didn’t brush you’re teeth twice a day.

I’m turning 70 next year and I am in great health. Two reasons:

I was a pussy when I was young. I didn’t do sports but I was in the Glee Club for 4 years (way before it was cool).

I was in the military at 19 and from that, worked out at a gym at least every few days. Did that for the rest of my life.

Now my BP is 120/80 +/- 2. My pulse is <80.

Not bragging here, but moderate exercise can prevent a bunch of problems. If you don’t have a workout routine with moderate weights and cardio, get going now. Even when my immune system went nuts for 3 years and I lost 50 lbs (from 210 to 160), I was able to workout and now that my immune system is back to normal I’m back up to 195 and healthy as a horse.

There are plenty of great workout routines on YouTube and other places. Don’t waste a minute thinking about it. Do it, make it part of your life. You will NOT regret it.

Get used to being tired, always.

Pay attention to ailments that run in your family. Particularly cancer. Get screened early and often. An early colonoscopy could have saved me three rounds of chemo and three major surgeries.

On Friendships

Finding friends as an adult is really hard.

You’re dumped into friends in your youth, because you spend so much time with this set of people in school, for several years.

I was never particularly good at it then, but I have a hundred times the social skills now, and it is really damn difficult. If your coworkers don’t end up doing friendly things with you, you have to somehow, in between work, sleep, eating, and managing all of the other problems in this thread, go out intentionally to activities, repeatedly, trying to find people that don’t suck that also think you don’t suck, and then hope that your trying to become friends isn’t off-putting for them. You used to have 8 hours a day at school to do this, now you have to cram it into 1 hour, twice a week.

If you made good, valuable friendships in high school or college, hold onto them the best that you damn well can. Because replacing them is a daunting task.

On Looks

This may be gender-specific (I’m a woman), but how the perception of your looks changes as you age. In other words, by the mere fact that I am visibly aging at all, past a certain age I become inherently less attractive.

I would say that, up until my mid-20s and maybe past that, every year I seemed to get more attractive. I didn’t really change (I’ve always been pretty trim, with a good body, nice face, nice hair, etc.), but somehow I “grew into my looks.” I went from being someone who got a lot of attention but mostly bad, to someone who got a lot more attention, good and bad. Then as I got past 30, then 35, then 40, things changed a lot.

I was still dating when I was in my 30s, but it became much much harder. Again, I didn’t gain weight, go grey, or even have any wrinkles, but I did look like I was in my 30s rather than my 20s. And the men who were interested in me would get older and older with the passing years. First mostly guys 5 years older would be interested, then 10. (I did meet some men who were my own age, one of whom I eventually married. He continues to think I am good looking – he’s also not too hard on the eyes).

This has also affected my work. I now work in the same place I did when I was in my 20s (left and came back about 15 years later), and it’s amazing to see how differently people, many of them the same people, treat me. When I was young, I often felt like I was the target of a lot of bad attention from the big men in charge. But I also didn’t realize that part of the reason they took me seriously (or acted like it) when they did was because they enjoyed having the attention and the approval of a young, pretty girl. As a woman in my early 40s now, it doesn’t matter that I wear the same dress size, have the same hair color and cut, almost the same face. I am still beautiful, but I’m old beautiful. I find these men take me less seriously than before, when I was a grad student, even with my big fancy PhD, publications, and grants now. Very odd.

TL;DR - Regardless of how objectively good looking a woman is and remains, many – if not most – women will just age out of the category of “pretty” or “beautiful.” They will not be considered ugly. They just won’t be considered at all.

All of the quotes above were directly quoted from the thread here.