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What are Your Thoughts on Aging?

What’s your take on aging and who you’re becoming with age, too? I’ll be 40 later this year and feel neither young nor old, but realize I’m entering what people call “middle age.” I haven’t “settled down,” and don’t feel an itch to do so, either. 

Such a good question! I have thought a lot about aging and have even obsessed over it a little bit, too. Worrying about getting old was something that happened a lot more frequently when I was younger, because 30 might seem scary when you’re 24, but it seems a lot less old when you’re 34. There are times I can’t believe I’m in my mid-30s but I’ve learned to (mostly) embrace it.

My 20s weren’t that great until I made the move to Chicago a month before my 28th birthday. And even then I worked until at least 2AM every night to make it work and was never able to put anything away in savings. For the longest time I regretted wasting so many years dating a complete jerk for most of my 20s, but lessons were learned and the only thing I can do is live my best life now and hopefully help others not make the same mistakes I did.

Over the past few years there were times I loved being single and other times that it felt really lonely. I’ve gone from wishing I had kids–mostly because of my age–to feeling really happy that this is where I am right now. There’s no wrong or right way to do things and there’s no set or appropriate timeline. I am so grateful that I’ve had time to grow a business, travel, and enjoy lazy weekend mornings–something I know I’ll miss one day. And I truly believe that having more time to do you is never a bad thing.

I had these very set ideas of things that had to happen by a certain point in time–specifically getting married by 28 and having my first baby at 30. So if you aren’t where you think you should be or even where you want to be, you are not alone. But living your life waiting for happiness is less than ideal.

My 30s have been so much better than my 20s. They don’t look at all like I thought they would but I’ve gotten to travel, have been saving money each month (huge change from my 20s!), and generally feel like I know who I am so much more than I did years ago. Life is not close to perfect and there are still things I really struggle with, but I feel so much more confident than I did years ago. And with each passing year, I’m able to learn more and more about who I am and what really matters to me.

The biggest change over the past year is the fact that my half sister passed away at the end of last year which really changed my outlook on life. Each year is a gift. Those grey hairs and wrinkles and even aches are milestones I am lucky to experience.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on aging, too! And if you have any questions you’d like me to answer, leave them in the comments below! 

  • We’re the same age and I’m so much happier at 34 than I was at 24. My 20’s were great in that I was happy with a wonderful group of friends and lots of adventures. I met my now husband at 20, married at 25- I never had to deal with dating pressure. On the flip side I struggled a lot with career decisions and figuring out myself. I just didn’t have the same clear sense of self that I do now, which has made me so much more secure with all aspects of my life.

    My career has always been the aspect of my life I’ve struggled with the most, in terms of figuring out what I wanted to do and then figuring out the path. I’ve settled into it now but my 20’s were definitely up and down with it. Being married and a mom was always clear to me, so I think I would definitely struggle more with aging if that hadn’t happened by this point. Not having kids was not going to be an option for me and unfortunately I think biology works against modern women. Without that pressure to settle and have kids before it gets more difficult I think aging would not be such a struggle at this stage!

    • So many people I know just didn’t meet the right guy so I’m not sure it’s the “modern” woman, but I understand your point. I mentioned this earlier but my grandma had my mom at 39 (which was so so old back then!) – her one and only child because she didn’t meet the right guy until her late 30s.

  • Jessica

    I turned 35 a couple of months ago, and I’ve been thinking about aging a lot too. On the positive, I’d agree that I feel a lot more confident in my 30’s than I did in my 20’s, and I like that I have a lot more experience under my belt. I think I’m much wiser (though I can admit that wisdom has often been very hard won). And like you mention at the end of your post, I’m much more aware of the fragility of life, and that it’s actually a gift to grow older–not everyone gets to do it.

    That said, I do often struggle with the fact that I haven’t met many conventional “adult” milestones: I’m single, I don’t have children, I still rent and have a roommate, and I’m not as financially secure as I thought I would be at this age (the part about pursuing our dreams that we don’t often acknowledge is that they’re often very low paying). It can be hard to feel like you don’t fit in with your own peer group, and even harder when some of those milestones are things you’d really like to have.

    In relation to what you wrote yesterday, I also completely changed my life in my late 20’s: I ended an abusive relationship, moved to a new state, and started a PhD program. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. But now that season of my life has also come to an end, and I’m once again in a place where I’m asking, “what’s next?” I think I naively thought back then that I had figured out who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, and in some sense I had–for awhile, at least. But every year, I realize more and more that growing older isn’t synonymous with “figuring it all out.” And figuring it out isn’t a final destination but rather a journey of constantly reassessing who you want to be and what you want to do. For me, aging is now about accepting the fact that I don’t have all the answers with humor, grace, and a sense of adventure–of course, I’m still figuring out how to actually do that. : )

    • We put so much pressure on ourselves to do XYZ by a certain time because that’s what most people do, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right way to do things. But it’s another thing to want them, although I’m convinced one day we’ll look back on this time so, so fondly.

      I think we’ll always wonder what’s next because you’re right-no one really knows what they’re doing. There is no right answer, perfect job, or set path you’re “supposed” to take!

  • I’m 27 – young still, I know – but so far in life I’ve always embraced aging. I had happy teenage and early adult years filled with so many great memories, but you couldn’t pay me to relive them because each year gets better. I’m much more self-aware and confident with age and I (mostly) know what I want in life and how to go about getting there. And, let’s be real – coming home to my puppy, husband, pajamas, and a glass of wine and going to bed early beats late nights out any day!

    • So happy to hear that! And no, nothing beats coming home to all those things (especially a puppy).

  • I look forward to each new age – in fact, I tend to switch to the new age in my mind as soon as the new year hits, even though my birthday isn’t until May. This last year has brought about the biggest changes since I moved to Chicago in 2012 – I ended my engagement, went back to work at sleep away camp (I’m a teacher in my real life) and became an advisor to a youth-led organization I was part of when I was in high school. I’ve branched out, made new friends, and moved into my own apartment for the first time. I’m also single for the first time while living in Chicago (which I have to say, is better than being single in New York where I’m from).

    Though I want kids and from time to time worry about meeting someone and having them while I still can, I also know that even when I was going to get married, kids were several years down the road. It felt more secure because then I KNEW that when I was ready, I would be the position to have them, but at the same time I am so grateful to have made the decision to end my relationship (because it just wasn’t ‘right’). I agree with many of the earlier commenters, and you, that with age comes wisdom, and every new experience, relationship, job, season teaches you something new that you are better for. That is what makes getting older (seems more positive to say it that way than aging) exciting!

    • I’ve heard dating is really tough in NYC! Glad it’s been better here. Seems like the baby topic is the one that’s making this so tough for all of us but we need to worry less about advanced maternal age (at least according to my doctor). My grandma had my mom at 39 back in 1959!

  • Nicole

    Interesting topic! I’ve found that my 40’s are all about Wisdom. You’ve seen enough and been through enough that the important things float up to the top. And I’ve felt a sense of peace with myself that I didn’t have before this decade. It’s hard-earned, which makes it all that more wonderful!!!

    • That is so great to hear and sounds like something to look forward to!

  • DanielleK8

    Aging is complicated. I can’t say I’m happier at 35 than I was at 23 or 24. I had a blast in high school, college and my early-mid-twenties. I have very little regret about that time. I had a rocky late 20’s which made me welcome my thirties, which yes, comes with a calm and clarity that I didn’t have (but to be fair, didn’t really need to have at 22). I don’t want to go back. And I don’t fear going forward. But their are things I feel like I am missing, or are getting closer and closer to being closed off as I age, like motherhood. Thanks to technology and science, I look and feel great. But you can’t botox your ovaries, unfortunately. I would like to have children. At least a child. And I do kind of mourn the fact that it hasn’t happened. It’s really the only thing about aging that gets me down. I don’t feel limited at all by getting older in most ways. But for women who want children and still want to do it he “traditional” way with a partner (not going the single mother by choice route, or the foster/adoption route, which are both incredible, valid ways of creating a family) aging can be very conflicting. I face the very real chance that I won’t be able to have biological children, not because I focused too much on my career to the detriment of all else, but because I just didn’t meet the right person in time. And that’s the only truly scary thing about aging to me.

    • I really do feel for you and can relate. My doctor said there’s no reason we (I say we because we’re about the same age) shouldn’t be able to have children over the next few years and there’s always the option to freeze your eggs. I elected not to do so because if I can’t have bio kids I’m ok with that–it’s something that was never that important to me but I realize I don’t have that in common with most people.

  • Leading up to my University graduation I made a 5-year and 10-year plan; now, nearly 11 years later I look back and laugh. The boy I would have married broke up with me 6 months later and moved out of town. I had a good job, but have now changed career paths, and while I don’t love it everyday, I like it just fine…and it would have never appeared on a plan. I thought I wanted to have kids but as more of my friends moved to different provinces/states I realized I loved the flexibility to spend long weekends or whole weeks out of town without planning or making tons of arrangements. The flexibility and aging and maturity makes me look back and say screw you to my 2006 10-year plan, I am so much happier without the things I “planned” for. I would have been unhappy living in a small town with that boy, (at this point) don’t want children, and needed to leave that job for sanity and momentum. That being said, I’m 33 and absolutely just bought under-eye cream because living in a University town and occasionally being mistaken for a grad student (and getting the student discount at the grocery store) is ok, too!

    • I’m with you! If I had married the guy I was dating at 28 I’d be divorced right now. I thought I wanted kids, then I thought I didn’t, and then realized I did again.

      Keep getting that discount! Ha.

  • Tuere

    Thanks so much for inviting your readers to ask questions you’d select to write a post about. This question on aging was mine. I was excited to see you liked it enough to write about it. I’ve been following your blog and The Everygirl for years, and this question might’ve been the very first comment I’ve posted on either blog. So, thank you! Like you, one of the best parts of my 30s has been knowing myself so much more than I ever had before. I’m 39, will be 40 in July. I’m excited about practicing and owning a DGAF (about what people think or say) philosophy even more in my 40s, now that I am clear on who I am. Onward!

    • You’re very welcome! I’m so glad you commented. It’s crazy how much more we can learn about ourselves as we get older and how all the things we used to care about don’t matter the way they used to. Happy (almost) birthday! Hope you plan something amazing for it!

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  • Christina Daniel

    One of my friends just turned 40 and all of our friends and colleagues said their early 40s were their favorite age. Never thought of it that way!

  • I’m enjoying my years, I’m turning 38 later this month. I liked my twenties but as I age, I’ve grown to appreciatiate my strength, wisdom and ability to say NO to bullshit. I’m not a yes girl! And I’m certainly not a woman that can be stepped on as I was when I was twenty

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