"Getting older sucks. You'll see. I didn't feel that way at your age either..." The first time I heard this, I had just turned 30, and I've been hearing it ever since. Well, now I'm 60, and I still don't agree.
I don't hate aging. I don't fear it. I embrace it.
There are definitely downsides -- and advanced old age can be a terror for many. But the older we get, the better we understand ourselves, the more we know what we want out of life and can focus on how to achieve that. Growing older -- that is, continuing to live -- gives us more opportunity to become a better version of ourselves.
I dug out some old notebooks, and decided to share what I found with wmtc readers. I've organized them by decades of life. And just for fun, I added in italics major life changes as they occurred. I've also omitted a few changes that I deemed too personal for this blog. (I do have boundaries!)
I was thinking I might use something like Piktochart to make this into a timeline.
The biggest project of my 20s was separating from an abusive parent. I did this through therapy, hard work, and steely resolve, with the support of my partner and my other parent.
Also in my 20s:
Realizing with certainty that I didn't want children
Owning my identity as a writer
Left full-time work; began writing fiction
Began living with my partner
Adopted our first rescue dogs
Writing: young-adult fiction
Paid work: childcare, proofreading, plus many short stints doing other things (data entry, personal assistant to an artist, probably six other things I've forgotten)
Activism: grassroots pro-choice group
In my 30s, I consciously stopped spending time with people just for something to do. Life's too short (and too busy) to spend it with people that bore you and with whom you can't be fully yourself.
It was a big decade:
Owning my writing process, proving myself (to myself) as a writer
Coming out as a rape survivor
Realizing my potential as an activist
Transforming my relationship into full adulthood: embracing radical acceptance
Recognizing myself on the eating disorder spectrum
Recognizing all-or-nothing thinking
Moved from Brooklyn to Washington Heights
Health issues; finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia
Writing: magazine features, educational videos, teen "high-low" nonfiction, monthly column
Activism: youth centre; public speaking about sexual assault
Paid work: legal document production; writing. Also teaching at youth centre and alternative high school, part of team organizing a March on Washington
Committing to taking better care of my physical health (late 30s-early 40s)
Learning to let go of conflicts and disagreements: "the power of walking away"
Learning to ask for and accept help
Reducing or eliminating all-or-nothing thinking
Left New York City
Emigrated to Canada
Writing: children's nonfiction books, magazine features, blogging
Activism: abortion access (Haven); war resisters (War Resisters Support Campaign)
Paid work: legal doc-pro, transcription, writing
Graduate school (late 40s)
Realizing my leadership potential, learning how to be an effective leader
Accepting that PTSD is permanent
Recognizing intergenerational trauma in my original family
Still learning how to ask for and accept help
Completed library degree for career change (early 50s)
Moved to the west coast; relocated to remote community on Vancouver Island (late 50s)
Activism: labour, trade unionism
Paid work: library worker, librarian, library manager
I used to imagine there would be a time when I was "done" -- where there would be a final and finished version of myself. Ha! I'm pretty sure that's called death. I wonder what my 60s will bring.
* * * *
One thing I haven't embraced about aging is the covid-related trend of natural hair colour. In fact, I've doubled down on a bolder look with this purply red. My natural dull brown sprinkled liberally with dull gray? No thank you! I'm helping to keep a stylist employed.
I offer this picture of myself as part of some recent and ongoing learning: trying to be less camera-shy.