i'm approaching old age and i do not like it one bit
I’ve been thinking about getting old. I know I’ve written here recently that “old” is a word I don’t want to claim, but there’s really no getting around it. I’m nearly 60 and that, in the eyes of our society, is old.
The thing is, I don’t know what’s expected of me at this age. How does one act like they are 60. How am I supposed to dress, what music am I supposed to listen to, what are my social activities?
Of course, the answer to all that is just be yourself no matter how old you are. Which I am trying to do. But there comes a certain mindset with my advanced age; you are hyper aware that you are aging, you are constantly thinking about how old you are, how young you are not. Being old in this society is to be cast aside, to feel like your opinions don’t matter, that you are used up and worthless. Or maybe that’s just me. It’s certainly the way I’ve been made to feel lately.
I look at what people my age or older than me are doing. Mick Jagger is still rocking out. Barry Trotz is coaching the Islanders. Joe Biden is president of the United States. Older people are viable, thriving, important. So why do I feel so unimportant? Maybe because I’m not a rock star or president. I’m just a civil servant who spends her day shitposting on twitter. And maybe that’s the problem. I’ve aged, I’m nearing senior citizen years, and I’ve accomplished nothing, and still am accomplishing nothing.
Perhaps it’s easier to be 60 when you have a lifetime of achievements behind you. You can look back and say you’ve lived a fulfilling and accomplished life and rest on your laurels and enjoy your old age knowing you’ve done well. I wouldn’t know. I just know that being near 60 feels like being in the margins of life. I’m not quite an old person yet, but I’m not young at all. I’m just out here existing day to day, trying to find something meaningful in life before it’s too late.
People are fond of telling others to act their age. But I don’t know how a 60 year old is supposed to act. I just want to listen to loud music and go to concerts and laugh at juvenile jokes with my twitter friends and get high. Does that sound 60? Does it matter if does? I’m mostly enjoying my life, but sometimes I lay awake at night thinking I should be more mature, more refined.
When I was in my teens I thought my parents were old. They were only in their 30s. But there they were, parents of three, home owners, the kind of people who had dinner parties and spent their Saturday foods shopping and doing chores. That felt old to me. I worried about them aging. Now here I am in the latter stages of my 50s and my parents are in their 80s and I’m freaking out at not only at how old they are, but how old *I* am. When did I become a person with a schedule of chores on Saturdays, one who needs to go to bed at 8:45, one takes cholesterol medicine and says things like “kids these days.” I feel like I was just in my 30s myself, laughing at the ridiculousness of thinking that age was old.
I’m going to see Jeff Rosenstock next week. I will without a doubt be the oldest person there. I will be self conscious about it. I will wonder what people are thinking about me, if they’re thinking what is she doing here. Don’t worry, I’m thinking about what I’m doing there also. Shouldn’t I be doing something more 60-like, maybe watching Columbo reruns in bed?
I just don’t know how to act, but I don’t know if I want to act the way society expect me to. I don’t want to give in and give up, I don’t want to change into polyester pants with elastic waistbands, I don’t want to listen to Barry Manilow or spend my spare time knitting scarves for family members. Truth is, I don’t want to be 60. It’s an ugly number, a stark number, one that reminds me that life is fleeting and my time here will end eventually.
So I’ll keep going to concerts and shit talking politicians on twitter and getting tattoos. I don’t know what else to do. Maybe I’ll gradually slide into a life of an old person, however that may look. But maybe I won’t let society dictate to me how I should behave. I should stop being almost embarrassed to tell people my age. I’ll never be one of those people who say “I’m 60” with a certain pride. I can’t bring myself to own that yet, and until I can do that, I will be ambivalent about my age.
I don’t know why I’ve landed on 60 as being the definitive age for becoming old. It’s somewhere between adulthood and senior citizenship. It’s a no-man’s land between living and dying. I’ve got quite a few months left in my 50s. I hope I can find peace with 60 before it happens.