Thoughts on Aging

Foreign Service LifeIndia
February 22, 2020

My 40th birthday is just around the corner (July 9th) and as a result, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of aging. I had a sobering moment the other day when I heard an old favorite song on Spotify, looked up the release date and realized that it was 20 years old, not 5-7 years old like I initially thought. I couldn’t believe I was that off! And then I couldn’t believe that songs I loved and still knew every word to were 20 years old!!

I’m pretty sure that in my head I’ll forever be 22 – fresh out of school, just starting my big career, full of expectations, energy and promise. However, the reality is that I am a middle-aged Mom whose career is half (or maybe more than half) over and whose body has been doing weird stuff lately.

Take these weird dots for example, they’ve show up on the underside of one of my arms every 1-2 weeks since December. At first I thought they were mosquito bites, but now I sleep in a net and they are still coming! So what the heck? And don’t get me started on food and alcohol. If I eat too late in the evening or drink too much not only do I get a terrible night’s sleep but I pay for it the whole next day as well. Turns out my body feels very strongly about my choices these days. I will spare you my other health woes. Nothing significant, but all new and strange to me. Feels like I don’t know my body anymore.

As a result, I’ve had a tendency to hyper-focus on all the minute changes taking place and then make up stories about why they are B-A-D. It’s not that these health issues are intolerable, I just don’t like that they lack clear fixes. Because that makes me feel out of control and there’s NOTHING I like less then feeling out of control. But in reality control is a made-up construct too, just like age!

My therapist has encouraged me to focus on all the things my body DOES still do well for me instead of obsessing over how many things are changing. She’s also been encouraging me to practice radical acceptance, which even as a concept, feels very hard to grasp. Surprisingly, I found that Lady Gaga’s recent Oprah interview provided one of the most clear descriptions of what radical acceptance is, how to incorporate it into your life, and what the benefits can be. Do check it out.

So, to summarize. My body is changing. I don’t like it. I can manage it but not control it. And I definitely can’t stop it. I must be with it. Society tells me 40 is old. I don’t feel old though. I swear I’m still 22. It’s all such a mind f*ck but I’m determined to just be with it and radically accept what is! WHEW. Glad I got that out… :)

Enough with all the thinking. Let’s take a look at Sarah through the years, shall we??

On the plus side, I’ve decided to celebrate my 40th with a 3 week driving tour of Ireland this summer! And we’re even going to stay in this adorable little castle…

I’m not sure what I need right now. I’m learning to be with this new stage of life, to challenge my limiting beliefs about it being too late to start new things (like hobbies, careers, educational degrees, etc), and to notice what is good about this season of my life. Would love to hear from those of you who are in or have completed your 40’s? What were your perceptions heading into it and what was your actual experience of it? How did the 40’s compare to your 30’s and 20’s?

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