It was Mary Lamberton Becker who said, “We grow neither better or worse as we get old, but more like ourselves.” I have only recently been struck with the notion that I am growing more into myself as I grow older. I am becoming more comfortable expressing who I really am, and I have come to accept the fact that not everyone will like that person, and that’s okay. We don’t have to like the same things as other people to “fit in.” Adults are (or at least should be) tolerant of everyone, because we all like different things, have differing opinions and perspectives on things, and that is what makes us unique. In other words, part of the best part of getting older is not giving a shit what other people think anymore (although to some extent I think I will always care).
On this topic of growing older, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“I once met a woman in her sixties who shared what a marvelous revelation it was to her to become completely gray. ‘I can just put my ideas out the way I want to,’ she said, ‘and I don’t get all of that strange sexual energy from men coming at me like I did when I was younger.’
Another woman in her fifties confided that one of the best-kept secrets in this culture was what she called ‘post-menopausal zest.’ ‘I thought I was a whiz before menopause,’ she whispered conspiratorially, ‘and you should see me now.’
These were obviously women who had chosen to let the process of aging facilitate their becoming more fully themselves.”
There are certain benefits to aging that people don’t often discuss. Growing older has a stigma about it, while youth is idolized and worshipped. With age comes experience, knowledge, and wisdom. There is something beautiful about growing older. I especially appreciate aging now that my mother died so young. It is a tragedy when someone’s life is cut short, and they don’t get to experience graying hair and sagging wrinkles. These are markers that we have lived and survived.
Also, I can see where losing our sexual appeal is freeing actually. We can be heard, listened to, valued and appreciated for the ideas we bring to the table. We no longer have to concern ourselves with our appearance and whether or not we are desired by the opposite sex. We have a new lease on life when this happens. We also find that people are more willing to listen to us and hear what we have to say. They aren’t distracted by their attraction to us and thoughts of us.
Growing older is really just becoming more ourselves.