December 15, 2017

What I Learned in trying to Run away from Aging.

I’m not sure if I had a nervous breakdown or a midlife crisis, but—I ran away.

I ran from everyone and everything. I’ve learned that when we find ourselves running from the truth, the truth always seems to find us, no matter how well we hide.

“I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.” ~ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I had fallen into the self-pity of aging. I didn’t feel like I was almost 50, and I fought the truth for over a year. 

A few years back I decided to embrace my gray hair. I didn’t color it for eight months. I was proud of my silver hair growing in. But, one day the sun shone in through the window as I putting on my makeup, and the rays hit my hair at just the right (or was it wrong?) angle. Suddenly, it looked like Christmas tinsel was in my hair. Tears rolled down my face. I was not ready. That’s when I started my fight with aging.

Life is a journey, is it not? If that’s true, where are we going? Isn’t life over at 50?

We cannot stop the aging process. Our lives tick away second by second—and the older we get the faster it seems to go. We create memories along the way. Some we hold onto dearly, and some we try to hide from.

Here’s what I learned knowing that I was about to be 50, and I couldn’t stop it.

>> We need to embrace the fact that we are not in our 20s, 30s, or 40s anymore.

This sounds obvious, but the lesson underneath is this: we cannot compete with the old versions of ourselves. We might have to just lose ourselves, and once we lose who we were, we have the ability to find who we are—in the here and now.

“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” ~ Andy Rooney

>> We can be vulnerable, fragile beings.

We are all walking on our own paths, trying to find our way home. When we struggle in life and we grasp for answers, we ask questions and search for truth. Sometimes, truth can be found in silent moments. Sometimes the answers we seek only come to us when we fall down and can’t get back up for a time.

>> We must stop making excuses.

We have just as many hours in a day as the next person. If we don’t take chances, we’ll be filled with regret. We run through life waiting for the right time, worried about what others will think if we chase our dreams. We worry more about the “what ifs” than what actually is.

“We should have taken our chances back then, when we were young and beautiful and didn’t even know it.” ~ Lois McMaster Bujold

I took a chance, swallowed my pride, pressed down my ego, and left my hometown. Why? I had always wanted to see the West Coast but was afraid to leave. What if I failed? I told myself I’d be more of a failure if I did nothing at all.

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” ~ Paulo Coelho

>> The memories of our families are important.

Do you ever look back at life and wonder why you didn’t listen to your elders when they were alive? Do you ever wonder why you didn’t spend more time with your grandmother?

We are all busy. But, when we get older we reflect: were we really that busy? Were we so busy we couldn’t have taken our parents or grandparents out for lunch, even just once a month?

No one is that busy. We prioritize our time, and how we spend it.

We need to give our time to others. At nearly 50 years old, I know I’ve made excuses and been selfish with my time. But, when we get older we are sometimes left with guilt, shame, and regret to work through.

Take your parents out to dinner. Call your grandmother and take her out to lunch for no reason other than to spend time with her. We need to create memories. We will be grateful for those memories as we get older.

Trust me—your family is not crazier or more annoying than the next person’s family.

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

>> We have to learn to just be.

How can we do this? We need to be present in the moment. We need to stop dwelling on the past, and thinking about everything we wish we could change. We also need to stop worrying about the future. The only thing we have control over is this moment. Once we learn to not worry about the things we can’t control or change, we can stop taking ourselves so seriously.

“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

I thought that by leaving home, I would find what I was searching for. But, all I found were memories of home.

There are times we must go on a journey to find ourselves. There are times in our lives we lose who we were.

“Life is painful and messed up. It gets complicated at the worst of times, and sometimes you have no idea where to go or what to do. Lots of times people just let themselves get lost, dropping into a wide-open abyss. But that’s why we have to keep trying. We have to push through all that hurts us and work past all our memories that are haunting us. Sometimes the things that hurt us are the things that make us strongest. A life without experiences, in my opinion, is not life at all. And that’s why I tell everyone that, even when it hurts, never stop yourself from living.” ~ Alysha Speer

We have a long journey ahead of us.

“You must befriend a few skeletons before you’ll find your deepest self.” ~ Curtis Tyrone Jones

I sat for a while and allowed the peace of each moment to take over. I’m back home now—gray hair and all. I still have not colored my hair. I am okay with being almost 50.


Author: Christina Martin
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Jen Schwartz
Copy Editor: Emily Bartran

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