Getting older is the new trying to stay young

Age seems to come up in conversations a lot, and a lot of people mention how they don´t ´feel´ their age. This seems strange, but I think most people will instantly know what it means. I definitely do.

When I think back to when I was a child of say, 4 years old, I don’t recall ever thinking “man, I am really still just a little kid”. On the contrary, I remember feeling serious and independent and very wise. My mother, who sometimes (cheeks burning with embarrassment) had to pick me up off the floor of a shop because I’d gone into a screaming fit, probably didn’t share this image I had of myself. I was also scared of almost all strangers and other kids, the dark, sleeping alone, and Sinterklaas, so exactly what I based my feelings of maturity on remains a mystery.

I continued to feel that way though, like my official age was too young for how I felt or wanted to be seen. When I was a teenager I hated it when adults said patronising things about us not understanding yet, and how we would ‘get it when you’re older’. In the meantime I was constantly arguing with my mother, repeatedly getting my dad (who really prefers peace over conflict) to the point where I could see he was itching to hit me, and more than once slamming our front door so hard that the glass that was in it shattered to pieces. All the while wondering why the hell they wouldn’t take me more seriously…

Oh, the longing to be older, to turn 18, to move out! And with finally moving out and going to university started what I now think might have been the only time when the age I felt matched the age I was. In those years, my age fitted like a favourite pair of jeans: so comfortable, you never even think about them. With the urge to be older finally gone, came the sense that this was the way it always would be: age was irrelevant, after all we were all adults now.

But then comes the day you wake up and think: ‘holy shit, I am getting old, but I still feel so young!’. And then you are in the reverse pattern of all those childhood years, with the common factor that when you say your age, you don’t feel it represents you. I clearly remember the day I went from being blissfully young to stressfully aging: 1 January 2010, the day before my 29th birthday. Before then, I was 28, the perfect age, and felt 28 too. New year’s day 2010 was special, because I was in New Zealand, where it was obviously summer and 12 hours ahead of the Netherlands. I remember going to the beach, sunbathing, and taking calls from my slightly intoxicated brother who had somehow managed to get himself into hospital. In short, life was sweet. Except, tomorrow I would be turning 29. 29!! That in itself was not such a big problem, if it weren’t for the fact that it meant I was actually starting a countdown to 30. Thirty, an age that really did not have any likable sounds, looks or qualities to it. Pondering these issues I flew back to Auckland, and arranged a birthday party at the local pub. All went well, and to reassure myself I had a little kissing session with the bartender, who was, apart from tall, dark and insanely handsome, also 22 years old. Great stuff, except the next day I woke up with a headache, one day closer to turning 30.

The rest of the year was spent in a state of mild panic, worrying about the milestone that was approaching (Is this the life i want? Will people start asking me about having babies? Will I be able to keep eating or will I get fat? What is the purpose of life? Where do I get the best anti-wrinkle eye cream, and how will I discipline myself into using it?). When the big day actually arrived I was fine, probably partly aided by the increased sugar level from all the wodka-red bulls on New Year’s Eve, the effects of the delicious sgroppino I made and kept pouring into my glass (because it was such a pretty pink), and the presence of friends and family.

Then it was back to work, life and normality. And it was fine. Actually, it was more than fine. And this is where I am getting to the point of this story (Jesus, there is a point?!). I had sort of resigned to having to spend the rest of my life wishing I was younger: still 25, 26, or even 28. Surprisingly though, I recently realised that getting a bit older is pretty damn great. When I think about it, pretty much all my friends look hotter and more interesting now than they did five years ago. I recently saw a wrinkle and thought, I like it! It’s from smiling! People don’t try to bullshit you as much anymore (well, they still try, but you are more likely to see it for what it is), and you are finally, finally (finally!) at peace or even happy with your body. Also, you can still easily flirt with a 22 year old. Or a 50 year old. Hell, you can flirt with anyone really.

So, now that I’ve shown such gratefulness for what I’ve got, can I please stay 31? Thanks.

P.s. My parents still love me.

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