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The Urgency that Accompanies Aging!

I was having a conversation with one of Plattsburgh's most engaging couples recently and we got on the topic of age. This was on the heels of a conversation I had recently had with a local politician about age as well. Both of these chats brought me to thinking, is there an urgency that accompanies aging? Do we panic as certain birth dates approach? While we celebrate 13 (finally a teenager), 16 (in some states the legal driving age), 18 (the right to vote-die for country), 20 (no longer a teenager), 21 (certified adulthood status-liquor purchasing), and 25 (the age some L.A. nightclubs insist is viable for male admittance), what are the ages that find us looking the other way?

Does American society endorse urgency with aging? I have identified some of the aging milestones that we celebrate in American society. What are the aging milestones that Americans find problematic? Are there certain fears that arise as we approach certain ages?

I remember when I was entering my early twenties and was thinking I should have been already out of my mother’s house (I actually had moved out once, but then moved back). I was feeling like a loser because I was still living at home, “with my mother.” How uncool was that? I was thinking it would be such a turn off to the women I would meet, even though I was doing the college thing, and was creative enough to make sure I could always have “private time” from time to time.

I remember when I was approaching my late twenties and became preoccupied with whether or not I should be in love and/or married. What a trip! I understood the reality of women and birthing children as a motivating factor for those who desired children to want to make it happen sooner than later. But for me, exiting my twenties shouldn’t have come with a sense of urgency to love and/or marry, should it?

I remember as I was entering my mid thirties being preoccupied with the old adage that you should make at least your age equivalent in your annual salary (if you are 35 years young, then you should be making $35,000), or was it making twice your age (if you are 35 years old/young you should be making $70,000). Of course since they were both cautionary tales I had heard often, the “twice your age” tale was extremely daunting and had me wondering when I would pull that off, if ever.

What do you remember about your urgency to age, or the consequences you were apprehensive about relative to aging?

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I think we dred every birthday after "20" that ends in a zero. It marks the begining of another decade and, as the number in front of the zero gets bigger, it's a reminder that our clocks only run in one direction.

Any urgency I've felt related to age has more to do with what I've done (or rather NOT done) and how much less time I have to do it in. I just turned 40. The average male in the US lives to be something like 78, I think, so, on average, I've got fewer days behind me than ahead of me. I've started to take mental stock in accomplishments, and the lack thereof. I think a lot about where I thought I'd be ten years ago vs. where I am now. I think about life's little "left turns" (I don't mean that politically) that turn out to make all the difference, to paraphrase Robert Frost. I wonder what my life would have been like if I would have made just a small, but fatefull adjustment somewhere along the line.

Then I start thinking about what I've got left to do...or what I'd like to do anyway. That's where the urgency comes in. I know there will be a time when I've done most or all of what I'm really going to do to contribute to society, or, my own agrandizement (sp?). I wonder if my wife and I will have enough money to retire comfortably, and, just what I have to do to make sure that we do. I wonder - will this job be my last? Will this employer or even career be my last? Will I be a good dad? What can i help my children accomplish?

I guess my sense of urgency has more to do with what I'd like to do before I die, and how much time I think I have to do it in.

J.W.--

I think you and I have this conversation before. Hell, I think I've even posted here before regarding when I had my age "meltdown."

I know this will sound a bit ridiculous to some, but it was 24 that freaked me out. (I'm 25 now). The thing about 24 for me, is that I was working (at a job I loved, mind you) and I had always assumed I'd go right from undergraduate to graduate school and have my Masters by 24. So there I was turning 24 and I'd yet to even take a single graduate course. This caused me a lot of stress.

At any rate, I resolved to start graduate school by the following fall-- so here I am now at 25 and in my first semester of grad school.

When I turned 25 in May, it felt like a victory instead of the defeat I'd felt the year before. Basically, I'd gotten my sh*t together!

Ok, so what's my point? My point is that, yes we feel an urgency with age (sometimes based on our own goals and expectations) but that urgency can be a motivating factor.

At least it was for me.

I think for me 25 meant lower car insurance (LOL). 38 the age when my daughter would be out of the house (that was hindered by two more children). then the same at 48. Lost my wife to cancer, remarried, now that age is 58. What is left to look forward to? Retirement? Always hated that idea in a way, but would love to have that freedom. Anyway to answer your question, the urgency is more about how fast time travels now compared to when we were young. When young we played all day and it seemed like an eternity, now we play in the yard and the day is gone, where did it go? So thinking about that, how are we going to have time to leave that legacy we would love to leave behind and have fun doing it? I do not think we have found that answer yet because we are not old enough. Blessings!

My twenty first birthday was a good one. The following days after are the most challenging to master. As an adult, I feel pressure from the entire world to hurry and grow up. I'm supposed to know what I want to do with the rest of my life (mind you, I still have 3X the amount of time I just finished-hopefully), consume alcohol, finish school, and work my hind parts off to pay back loans.

I forgot, get married and have children to send off to the army. But what if I don't want to do any of these things? In that case, I'm labeled: lazy, childish, in debt, single and lonely, and a bore.

I feel as though after this year, I have little to look forward to. The hype of the first 21 years led me to believe that life would be perfect and predictable. I've concluded that the rain is gone.

I remember when I was a kid, like someone said, the days went on forever. There was even time to be bored. I chuckle at that memory today. I also recall that I couldn't wait to be older, to have independence and all the fun that goes with it.( A naive perspective)

When I was 10, I wanted to be 13. Then when I reached 13, that wasn't good enough. I craved 16. But then, when 16 came, I was admiring the activities and lifestyles of those who were 18 +, thinking, they have it so much better than me. Age 21 through 25, I coasted. Enjoyed the age, but was missing success and financial freedom. 30 crept up and I began to wish time would slow down, but it didn't. It seemed to speed up. So much to do. A family to raise and a full time job. It was all I ever dreamed of, right? At least that is what I believed at the time. I had my hands full, but not much time for me.

When I lost my brother, suddenly, in a car accident, I spent a period of time thinking about what is important in life. How we often complain about the little things or stress over things that won't really matter tomorrow. I thought, wow, it can be over in an instant. Life is precious, regardless of age. I work at trying to keep this perspective. I don't want to take anything or anyone for granted.

Another eye-opener for me was when I was 39, almost 40. I began to feel vulnerable to father time. I think for women, this is an age where we re-evaluate where we are at vs. where we want to be. I began to put more emphasis on my own happiness instead of catering to others so much. After all, I have earned it and must have some comfort to balance the fear of aging.

What do I fear? Losing my health, becoming dependent, being discriminated against, losing my youthful appearance, being lonely, to name a few.

What can I do about it? While I can't stop the clock, I can make choices that help me to live the rest of my life as fulfilled as possible. I can make healthy choices, stay active, foster great friendships, stay close to family and work towards my goals. I will just have to get over the fact that there are factors which I can not control and just focus on the ones I can.

Well, I just turned 21 yesterday. And, I won’t lie – I counted down the days to my birthday for the last 5 (or so) years of my life.

Turning 21 has been on my mind since I entered high school and discovered the addictive world of partying and underage drinking. But, like most teenagers, underage drinking isn’t so fun when the ever-seldom willing 21-year-olds are unreachable. So, I spent many nights and weekends with my friends – bummed that we could not get any alcohol.

Now, I am not saying I need alcohol to have fun – but it certainly makes nightlife in the North Country that much more interesting (cow tipping will only entertain a group of teenagers for so long).

And when I entered college, the eyebrow-raising age of 21 couldn’t come any quicker. Frat parties and keggers were fun, but I wanted to join my older friends at the bars. Downtown Plattsburgh was so alluring, yet so out-of-reach for me.

Just last month I was at a party with friends having a blast, but suddenly things turned somber when everyone decided to head downtown. I was three weeks away from being 21, but I couldn’t continue the party elsewhere because Uncle Sam said so.

Another component was added to my restlessness this year when I started to see an older man. He was well-above the legal drinking age, but I wasn’t. So, instead of sharing a casual drink at dinnertime or going to the bar on a Friday night with him, I quickly found myself wallowing in the realization of my age. I was 20. So, it was “Hello non-alcoholic Shirley Temple” and “Good bye spiced Captain and Coke.” Life was becoming less and less of a party as the legal drinking age steadily kept its distance from me.

Like I said, I turned 21 yesterday. And it was also yesterday that I finally noticed it was not a big deal to be 21. I already had plenty of friends to buy me alcohol, so it wasn’t like I never had it around. I was certainly able to get into some bars in Plattsburgh with friends, I just had to pre-game at home and be OK with the fact that I couldn’t legally drink while inside of the clubs.

So, when midnight finally hit on Oct. 17, I found myself sitting at home with my boyfriend. We simply had fun together, and alcohol was the last thing on my mind. The next night a bunch of friends held a kegger for me, so – again – I drank at the house and did not go downtown at all. It is now the day after my 21st birthday and I have still not bought any booze. The realization of how often I wished my years away since I was 16 sort of makes me laugh now.

I am not going to lie, I like being able to buy my own alcohol now – but it was certainly not worth the wait.

Thus, J.W., I can definitely relate to your blog. Society and its mandates have people wishing their life away, then one day it will hit them that all the rushing around made no sense. It made no sense for me to anxiously await my 21st. It was just another birthday and the only thing I have gained (besides another year older) is the ability to legally drink. Big whoop. Like I said, it’s not like I wasn’t drinking before. But, I guess drinking now with the approving nod of Uncle Sam makes life a little less stressful for me – and a little less interesting.


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