As I quickly approach the other side of thirty, I’m met with phenomena I never thought would really happen to me. I suddenly understand the importance of a good high impact sports bra, my jawline is constantly invaded by an army of acne not even seen in my teen years, belly fat is getting harder and harder to fight off, and my backside is reminding me not to skip out on strength training. Physical terrors aside, I love getting older. Each passing year I’m amazed by the power of life experiences, and excited for all that’s still yet to come.
This may come as a surprise to you, but from about seventh grade until well into my college years, I kept detailed record of my life in a series of journals. One of my greatest theses as a young writer was maintaining the knowledge of youth. Often feeling misunderstood by adults, I pitied their lack of expertise on what really mattered in life. I vowed to never become one of those adults who jump to conclusions about children’s intentions and act like they know the whole story even when they weren’t there. As an adult who spends more time around children than other adults, I think I’ve managed thus far to strike a balance between authority and understanding; big emphasis on I think.
I am not much of a morning person, but it’s hard to be cranky after spending the first half hour of my day having breakfast with kindergarten. I look at that time as an opportunity to learn from them, while also keeping them safe and teaching them important life skills like, I can still hear you if you speak at a normal volume three feet away from me. Every day is another opportunity for me to see something in life experienced for the first time, such as learning the trick to opening a package without using your teeth, or indulging the excitement of an upcoming play date (really, the excitement of every fleeting moment). I’m reminded by our younger counterparts, to keep an open heart, laugh, and get excited about (EVERYTHING) life. If you want to stay young at heart, spend some time with a five year-old.
On the other side of life’s spectrum, my senior year of college I was assigned to interview either someone who moved here from another country, or someone who was alive way-back-when. I decided to get the angle of someone who fit both categories, and interviewed my abuela. No stranger to aging gracefully, I wanted to get her to reveal some of her secrets. This is a woman who, at the age of 82 years old, had nary a wrinkle on her face nor a spot of cellulite on her legs, and had the most genuine laugh with a smile just as hearty. I asked her everything from love advice no such thing as love between a man and a woman, only a mother knows what love is, to her biggest challenge moving from Puerto Rico language barriers; which were broken with a hard work ethic and quality product. But when I tried to get her to tell me the secret to a long life, all she said was eat chocolate, and then started laughing as she passed me a square of her Lindt bar (dark intense orange).
To this day, I eat dark chocolate on a near daily basis. All jokes aside, being fortunate enough to have spent such a huge portion of my life in close proximity to my grandmother has given me a positive perspective on aging. Equally, if not more, important as spending time with five year-olds, spending time with our elders can take the fear out of aging. As tight-lipped as she could be (I swear she was sixty-nine for at least ten years), there’s no hiding actions. I saw my grandmother walking up three flights of stairs on a daily basis, dancing everywhere from the living room to any of my uncle’s performances, carrying an umbrella on sunny days to protect her flawless skin, eating REAL food, and choosing natural remedies over commercial medicine. As much as I felt her love for me, I saw her love for life, which captured anyone in her presence.
Life is all about perspective. Whether you’re five or eighty five, you wake up every day with a choice on how to approach the day. For me, the key to getting older is surrounding myself with people of all ages and embracing opportunities to connect and share with the world; finding the perfect balance between the wisdom of age and the fresh perspective of youth. The other side of thirty looks pretty promising from here!
Inspired by The Daily Post