Earlier today, I was listening to a young woman reflect on the feeling of turning 30 years old. She spoke about the shock of reaching such a “milestone” birthday, and how it made her more aware of her limitations – how she wasn’t a young kid anymore, how her metabolism was slowing down, how she was starting to find wrinkles on her face.
I’ve heard 20 year olds say the same kinds of things. And 50 year olds. And those in their 90s.
When you hear these things, and you’re older than the person saying them, it’s so easy to think/say, “But you’re still just a kid! You’re young! You think it’s bad now, wait till you’re my age!” I had those very thoughts this morning … but then I realized, that kind of response is not helpful at all.
We all know people who try to “top” us when we complain. Your toe hurts? Their whole foot hurts. You had surgery? Theirs was bigger, and better, and worse. You’re overtired? They haven’t had a full night’s sleep since 1972 … etc.
We miss the point entirely.
The person who says “I’m turning 30, and feeling old” is reflecting on her mortality, and recognizing the ways in which her life is changing with time. Surely that’s something we all can relate to. Rather than saying “You just wait till you’re 50!” I can say, “These milestone birthdays can be hard, huh? They really prompt us to reflect on the ways we are changing.” We can find a place to relate, to come together.
When I’m in pain, you can tell me that your pain is “worse,” but that doesn’t accomplish anything. These things aren’t a matter of degree, but of the common human experience. Let’s recognize the humanity in one another, and acknowledge that life can be tough sometimes, for all of us.
May the rest of your life be the best of your life.