• Age Entitlement

    growingolder

    Over the weekend I had a conversation with a friend.

    “I want Botox for my birthday,” she said. “For the wrinkles on my forehead. I don’t like this getting older business.”

    I thought about it for a minute, then shrugged and said, “I’m okay with getting older.”

    A few weeks ago I was sitting in a nail salon getting a pedicure when I overheard a woman say to a younger girl, “Getting old sucks. Don’t do it.” As if aging were optional.

    I look at celebrities who do things to their faces and bodies in a constant quest for that twenty one year old physique. I hear about things like the Kylie Jenner effect and I’m glad I’m not a celebrity.

    Let me give you a slightly different perspective on getting older: I don’t fear aging. After breast cancer, I hope to age.

    I’m thirty five and while my friends are all giving forty an uneasy side-eye, I look forward to my next birthday and I hope for many to come.

    After breast cancer, instead of looking at magazine covers and wishing I could look younger, I look at senior women and think jealously, “You made it to that age. I want to make it there, too.”

    I’m okay with needing stronger glasses and having gray hair and seeing those fine lines just starting to appear around my eyes.

    Americans want to ‘stop the clock’ on aging, to live forever in an interminably young state.

    Folks, that’s not how life works.

    Trust that the aging clock will stop all on its own. It doesn’t need our help.

    We know the end of the aging clock means the end of our lives, but we look at death in only the most academic sense. As if death, like cancer, is something that only happens to other people.

    The thought of your own death is (at the very least) uncomfortable. Your mind skitters over it and when it becomes too much we push the thought into a back corner of our minds like a trunk full of nasty, rotten rags to be forgotten until some unknown future date.

    Except some of us have to pull out that trunk and open it sooner than we expected. And after that trunk has been opened, we have to find a way to live through each day knowing its contents.

    I’ve seen inside that trunk.

    Am I afraid of dying? Without a doubt.

    Am I afraid of getting older? No. Not even a little.

    That’s not to say I won’t someday dye my hair again or put sunscreen on my face to prevent skin damage.

    But am I going to sweat the ever deepening vertical line between my eyebrows or the stretch marks on my stomach?

    Uh, nope.

    Around this time every year there are a lot of speeches made to graduates about having an undue sense of entitlement. Those talks usually surround material possessions, but how about a speech to my generation (the parents of those children) regarding our undue sense of age entitlement?

    We assume we’ll get to travel the world in retirement. We assume we’ll get to meet our grandchildren and maybe great-grandchildren. We assume we’ll live to the ripe old age of ninety because advances in medicine are helping us live longer lives.

    And instead of being grateful for the time we’ve been given through God or medical science we bitch about the wrinkles we got along the way.

    Is that not the very definition of entitlement?

    Take it from someone who knows: Growing older isn’t a punishment. It’s a gift.

    Please treat it accordingly.

    xoxo,

    Meghan

    I love comments! Don’t want to post a comment? Send me an email at gettingthewordswrong(at)gmail(dot)com.

15 Responsesso far.

  1. Karen murphy says:

    I very much like your attitude!! I REJOICE every b-day, embrace it. Thankful every time I’m not 6′ under. I also had a rude awakening this year to life’s fragility! All you can ever do is thank God every morning for being alive. Love you my Meg

  2. Shelley says:

    Meghan,

    You said it perfectly. Life is precious and so often taken for granted. Keep smiling and spreading your inspirational words because you are touching people’s lives more than you will ever know.

    Shelley

  3. BEAVO says:

    I’ll remember that as I go to my first colonoscopy procedure in a few weeks. And, as a bonus present, I get an upper scope too so the doctor can see if I have an ulcer! I’ll just need to keep repeating to myself…….”It’s a gift, it’s a gift, it’s a gift……..happy 50th birthday to me”!

  4. Kyla H says:

    Beautifully, wonderfully said.

  5. Nicole says:

    I appreciate your words. It is a helpful reminder to appreciate the very precious life we have and the people that inhabit it. The present moment is all we have, so we must savour it.

    You are brave and supportive for writing from such a real place. Continue your great work.

    Thinking of you and wishing you wellness and goodness.

  6. BJ says:

    Wow; great perspective. I’m 64 and loving it. My father is (almost) 92 and looking like seventy. So, I assume I’ll make it to 90+ myself. BUT, my mother passed from diabetic complications at 69. My sister from organ failure due to excessive medical treatments for spinal degeneration on her 60th birthday. You just never know how long you will live. But it won’t be forever. So–enjoy it while you are alive; don’t sweat the grey hair–it’s beautiful. Those wrinkles? They tell the story of how long you’ve lives, and they are painless. Aging is a gift and an adventure. Live it as well as you can and enjoy the journey!

  7. YES MEGHAN! YES YES YES YES YES! You have got SUCH great perspective on this, and I want to shout your words far and wide, they are so positive and so TRUE. Keep up the great work! Katie. X

  8. Monica says:

    Turned 40 this year. Loving every minute of it! I figure, I’m sooooo much smarter than I was when I was 20. That alone is cause for celebration! Great article!

  9. pwsquare says:

    A gift indeed. In August I will “step into sixty” and I am truly thankful for this gift! I am thankful for my health and my mental capacity. And for young friends like you!!!

  10. Yvonne T. says:

    Love this post! I aim for this appreciation daily but sometimes fall into the whining because of my babies! Thanks for this!

  11. Marta says:

    YES! Perspective. My dad died at 50 from skin cancer…I am thankful for my 40th year, and I want to rock it every day I can. Thanks for sharing. I hope to wrinkle (safely, under sunscreen) with you for a good, long time. Hugs! GO YOU!

  12. Liz says:

    Meghan –

    The beauty of your words is eclipsed only by the beauty of your perspective. We are each given 1440 minutes every day; thank you for using a few of your minutes to share your thoughts 🙂

  13. Drew says:

    So for the sake of argument let’s say reincarnation is a fact. So each day we are getting younger. Literally we are getting closer to birth. Btw one needs to earn the right to call themselves old. Mostly I just see a bunch of wrinklely kids.

Leave a Reply