Why can “older” people be so hard on themselves and those younger than them? Growing up, I heard the following:
“Enjoy it now, while you don’t have to worry about cholesterol.”
“Wait until you are older, and your joints don’t work anymore either.”
“Well, you’re young so that dress looks good on you now. Wait until you are my age.”
They left me with the uneasy feeling that in my delicate state, I was somehow superior to the messenger, but I wouldn’t be for long.
Where I think these bitter people went terribly wrong was how they coped with truth of aging: it’s hard. However, instead of pushing forward with a positive mindset, they felt miserable and wanted to ensure others did too. Misery loves company. Or maybe they felt a sense of justice because aging is, in a way, an equalizer.
To be fair, they did convey some truth: unless we die, we all grow older. It’s just the cycle of life. We will ALL face aging and its consequences (whatever they may be). We can take comfort in the fact that we are not alone in getting older.
However, we wouldn’t look at a little one and say with a snarl, “You are inevitably going to get your heart broken. You just wait for it!” How awful! Instead, we might gently take her hand and explain to her that there is pain in life, but it can be overcome and help turn her into a stronger, better person.
And this is exactly how we should talk about aging to ourselves and others: acknowledging the negative but balancing it out with the positive. If not, we sound bitter and unhappy and try to pull others down with ourselves. And no matter how we face it, we still grow older. So let’s do it positively and proudly.
Creator of Love, Auntie.