Feeling Old Vs. Being Old

I have friends who think they’re old. These friends are mostly in the 26-30 age bracket, and in no way constitute as being such (unless you’re asking a nine year old), but it’s just what they think. I have never said that I’m old. I’m 27 and I don’t feel or look like I am.

There’s the adage “You’re only as old as you feel.” I don’t know if I believe that, either.

A friend of mine turned 23 on Friday, and we went out for her birthday to a local sports bar. After her mother, I was the oldest person there, and I found myself saying out loud that I felt old – something I don’t usually say. But I think there’s an important line to distinguish here: I FELT it. Sometimes I feel sick, but it doesn’t mean that I am. So saying that I’m as old as I feel makes absolutely no sense to me. My age would change constantly. I felt 27, but empirically, I was older than the rest of her friends there.

I didn’t feel old because of the number of years I’ve been around. I felt old because I was in the company of 23-25 year olds who want to go out and party and have a good time. They were drinking a lot and I had one beer. I was tired. I wanted to come home and read a book, maybe do some writing. Those are the things I care about more than being out drinking. I remember well my college years and the few years after where it seemed like that’s what I wanted to do every weekend, but I have long since grown out of that. That’s age appropriate behavior for a 23 year old, so I can’t really say that they were doing anything terrible. I love my friend and I’m glad she was having fun. When people hit their mid-20s and that’s still what their lives are about, that’s when I start feeling as though perhaps it’s time for them to grow up.  At 23, it’s normal to still be transitioning out of college. By the time you turn 25, that should pretty much be over, and I think that’s the way my 25 year old sister was feeling, too. It just wasn’t a world that interested us quite so much anymore. Because of that, we weren’t really fitting in, and we weren’t having the same kind of fun the rest of the party seemed to be having.

I don’t even know what I think “old” is. I used to say that 80 was old, but my grandfather is 79 and gets around better than many people in their 60s. He feels old, but he isn’t old in terms of his physical ability. So I’d kind of like to think of “old” as a state of mind. It’s like “tomorrow” … it’s always coming, but it never gets here. It’s so relative. I don’t even know what it is to be old. Realistically, 80 IS old. He’s been around for a long time, but when it comes to physical ability, he’s still moving well. Maybe oldness should be gauged  by how we physically feel. But even that’s problematic for me because I have a bad back, bad knees, and a bad hip. The problems I have are consistent with elderly people, in many cases. I’m obviously not elderly (did you notice how I was getting tired of saying “old” all the time? I pulled a switcheroo there).

I’m beginning to welcome growing up, though. My tastes are changing and I’m becoming more sure of myself, and if going back to 23 years of age would take everything I’ve learned away, I don’t think I’d want to do that. So maybe I’m not a party animal. I kind of like being boring (and by boring, I mean that I don’t mind at all staying in on a Saturday night to play a board game, watch a movie, or read a book. Two weekends ago I celebrated date night by two-timing Barnes with Noble). I like that I’m finding all these other things that I want to do with my time. It’s not that I plan to never go out or never have a few drinks again, but I like being an adult. A responsible adult, even. I like acting my age. Maybe someday I’ll envy girls in their 20s, and I’m sure I’ll feel a little bit uneasy about turning 30, but I’d prefer to think of it in a more positive context. There has to be a certain amount of wisdom that comes with age, and I’m looking forward to growing wise.

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