Confronting My Fear of Aging 

Until recently, getting older has always been something I’ve dreaded almost exclusively. Rather than being excited for what are thought of as milestone birthdays, like turning eighteen, I feared these dates because they represented having less time and served as a reminder that I’m not where I think I should be. Now that I’m about to turn twenty, I’m having my yearly age-related crisis and reevaluating my relationship with getting older altogether. 

One thing I’ve realized about aging-related fears, at least for me, is that they are rooted in self-absorption, as well as perfectionism. One of the main reasons that I fear getting older is that I haven’t accomplished as much, I don’t look as good, or I don’t have my life as planned out as I thought I should have by a certain age. 

Growing up surrounded by messages that generally place a ton of emphasis on following a certain timeline, especially as students, makes it really easy to become preoccupied with the idea that we all have to accomplish specific externally determined goals and that we should have our life paths planned out when we are teens. On top of that, we are surrounded by media that showcases young adults, who are often played by thirty-year-olds, looking their best and at the peak of their lives. Needless to say, it’s not difficult to trace back some of the origins of my fear of aging. 

Girls lying on a car Photo by Free-Photos from Pixabay This fixation on reaching personal milestones before getting “too old” prevents me from fully experiencing my own life and from being present in my relationships and within the communities I am a part of. Realizing this has helped me understand how damaging it is to get caught up in expecting myself to arrive at some imagined ideal version of myself every time I age a few years rather than committing to continuously show up for myself and others throughout periods of change and growth. 

While I still have fears and uncertainty about the future, I’m gradually getting over feeling like I am constantly behind, and that I am running out of time to get to a place where I am happy and content with where I am in life. It’s reassuring that I can look back at my seventeen-year-old self, who felt like they had already run out of time, and see how much I’ve learned and changed for the better since that point. Getting older means more experiences and more opportunities to learn more about what I value and how to seek that out. 

Photo by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash At age twenty, my life is very different from what seventeen-year-old me, nonetheless, thirteen year old me, would have expected and that’s okay - it’s good, actually. It’s unrealistic and harmful to think that I am ever going to feel like I have everything completely together and planned out, and I genuinely look forward to continuing to grow and yes, get older. 

This year, in addition to listening to “Ribs” by Lorde on repeat, I’m taking time to reflect on what I’ve learned over the course of my teen years and setting intentions for a new decade.