Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dirty Thirty and Why You Need to Shut Up About Getting Old

In less than a week I will be celebrating my 30th birthday. You all have no idea how damn excited I am over this birthday. However, without a doubt - without a doubt - my birthday glee is always stopped stone-cold by one of my top pet-peeves: when people whine to me about how much they hate getting old.

"Oh my god, don't remind me! My birthday is (whenever) and I'm turning (who gives a damn age) and OH MY GOD I AM SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLD! Ugh! I hate getting older!"

Seriously - you hate getting older? So, you hate your birthday? You hate that you managed to make it through another year of your life? Out of all of the possible ways to die, out of the innumerable ways to wind up not alive anymore, you - yes, you! - managed to go around the game board once more and have another turn at it? Well goodness gracious me, I cannot imagine the impossible chore it must be to please you, my little angel cake.

If I had I nickle every time someone said this to me I'd have traveled around the world, bought a slingshot and pelted every single last one of yous with a horse manure cupcake.

Permit me to dissect why this familiar yet nonetheless irritating complaint vexes me so.

One. Ingratitude. To vocalize you do not want to live to be a ripe old age implies you wish to die young. What sort of attitude is that to carry around on your shoulders? You have enough to worry about to freak out over piddly nonsense that (a) you cannot change and (b) happens to everyone. Additionally, the ingratitude is a slap in the face to individuals who never had the privilege to grow old or who struggle tooth and claw to get to each birthday. It's insulting to complain about about your inability to cope with achieving another year simply by existing.

Two. Piggy-backing off that, aging happens to everyone. Unless the Fountain of Youth/vampires or some other mystical immortal being is discovered, everyone on this planet - every living thing from humans to animals to the jar of raspberry preserves that's been sitting at the back of your fridge since last Christmas - is getting older. I hate to break it to you my gentle little snowflake, but you are not special. No one parted the clouds, shined a light onto your precious head and singled you out to be the lone living creature to go through the aging process.

Three. Fear of Death. There is a particular ignorance/lack of honesty when it comes to people who 'hate getting old'. Like, what about getting old is specifically hateful? When you strip away the inanity of the age whining it really does boil down to a basic fear of death. Totally understandable, by the way. You should fear death to a certain level; it's a fairly healthy fear to have in small doses as it keeps you from doing stupid moves like drilling a hole in your head. However, be honest about your fear; get to the bottom of why "getting old" freaks you out enough to burden others and damper their mood. Trust me, I have no so small fear of death, but I'd personally rather have age speeding me to the grave rather than complications of health.

Three.A Vanity. I think it plays a large role as well and perhaps folks just don't want to admit it. People judge others based on the outward shell and -gasp- oh noes you may one day have wrinkles and gray hair, whatever will you do? Lord, people may actually have to get to know you before deciding they like you! I simply do not know how you will go on...Seriously, like the fear of death, if it's just a fear of losing your looks just say it. It's a little silly but I know I would appreciate the honesty. 

Four. Regrets. I don't care if you have the words "No Regrets" tattooed on the inside of your eyelids as a reminder of its inspiration to your soul; everyone has a regret or two (or three hundred). When we age it is a not-so-gentle reminder that time is a-tickin' away (see: Death) and that Bucket List ain't getting any shorter. You have places to travel, adventures to be had, goals to achieve, unattainable people to sleep with, THINGS TO DO! and another year that flies by without having ticked off something on that Life's To Do List just irritates the ever-loving crap out of you, doesn't it? Fine. I think it's safe to say the vast majority of us have these moments (Jeebus knows I do), but again, no reason to blanket the frustration of lack of accomplishment by denying yourself (and others) the joy of a birthday.

Five. Surprisingly enough, this kind of careless commentary is more often than not said when I mention my own birthday. My birthday, which has nothing whatsoever to do with any other individual (parents aside), and inevitably some careless human being will turn it around on themselves and bring their little rain cloud of ageism to flood out my birthday jubilation. When it's your birthday, bitch all you want; it won't stop me from thinking your're ungrateful and a bit callous but hey, at least I won't say it to your face. My birthday gift to you.

I don't speak on behalf of everyone with a congenital heart defect/chronic illness but I do know a number of my companions share the same sentiment I do when I say:

Shut the feck up you whiny little eejit and be grateful you have been given another day on this glorious Earth, in this lovely life.


  1. Rachael - Great post! I think you've hit the nail on the head!

    I will admit to being one of those people you hate - I dread my birthday in some ways and I'm willing to admit it. I know, I know, I'm an ungrateful bitch, even with my CHD. And it's for many of the reasons you mentioned. Fear of aging - fear of losing what precious little looks I have, and fear that for me, the aging process is inseperable from the many complications which may likely arise from my bizzaro-complex heart defects and related surgeries. I've read too many medical studies to ignore the likelihoods (and not for fun, lest you think I'm insane, it's for my job!)

    There's also, as you say, the fear of time passing me by without getting to check off all those things on my "Life's To-Do List," if you will. I have sooooo many places I want to visit, things I want to do, and the realization that I won't be able to scratch a majority of those things off truly saddens me sometimes. Of course, I've been amazingly priviledged to have been able to do a lot of awesome things and visit a lot of wonderful places, so I know that's where I need to focus and be thankful (so thanks for the reminder!), but still, sometimes I'm overcome with saddness.

    So thank you for the great reminder to snap the fuck out of it and, for a least a day, celebrate life and all you HAVE accomplished - it's a message I need to hear!

  2. Now, now, Ruth I don't hate you or the actual people who say this ~ I just hate the carelessness of the statement and its implications. You're not an ungrateful bitch; just as you said, you just need a little reminder to focus on the good shit in life :D

  3. I fear losing my looks. There, I said it. I won't lie! :P Wait until you hit 40! Vanity sits in around then, or so I've heard!

    1. Yeah but then you get to be a sexy cougar *mrow*

  4. Girl, PREACH. Nothing says "ridiculous and hung up on silly things" like complaining about birthdays. It's right up there with a boyfriend saying that Valentine's Day is an evil plot invented by greeting cards companies ;)

  5. Rachael, I LOVE birthdays. I love getting older, because I feel like one day, maaaybe, my outward appearance will look more like how I feel on the inside [ a badass grandma who still wears leopard print and sparkly nail polish, and swears all the time]. I honestly don't really have a problem with getting older, because every birthday is exciting for me, because there were so many times that I never thought I would make it to the age I am now.

    I can't wait for the day when people stop telling me, "oh, but you're soo young! You can do what ever you want, you have your whole life ahead of you, blah blah blah". I can't wait for the time when it is not socially unacceptable for me to walk slow, and take my time, stay in and read and drink tea on Saturday nights. I am excited for a time when I will not get crazy looks from people when I tell them completely seriously, "I'm in retirement now. I've had enough excitement for 10 lifetimes, and now I just want to chill". It is frustrating feeling so old on the inside (and being generally okay with it) but looking so young on the outside.

    Obviously, the intensification of my health problems that will most likely occur as I age scares the shit out of me, but all of the social/societal and appearance stuff associated with being old(er), bring it on! : )

    Happy birthday!!!