I’ve always been vastly curious about how old people perceive themselves. My theory is: We all reach a certain age and don’t really “grow” more mentally. Maybe our thought processes change slightly, but there’s a point in time where we all stop aging.
My theory for myself? I think I was nineteen. At that point I had already experienced a lot in my life and no major changes happened. Sure, I’ve grown older and changed slowly over time, but I’m pretty sure that was the year where things really stopped surprising me. In fact, maybe I could push it to 21, but that’s as far as I could go.
I haven’t felt an internal shift really since then. No big “Ah ha!” moments or crazy realizations. It makes me wonder if that’s why everyone around me still seems like they are “my age” even if we are ten years apart? Has youth and age stopped mattering because I’ve reached the point of “no return” where your innocence is truly gone and you are solely responsible for yourself?
Yes, I think I have. And I have another question: Is youth really wasted on the young?
I don’t think so. When I was younger (and didn’t have to worry about pre-cancerous cells, spinal arthritis, or panic attacks), I did gymnastics, I danced my little heart out, and I ran circles around everyone. I pushed my body constantly to prove that I was better than the boys at my school. I was excited, innocent, and perfectly content.
I think I held up my youth pretty well. I think I still hang onto it most days. When someone asks about the scar on my shoulder, I can cheerily reply, “Oh, I totally beat pre-cancer.” I plaster a massive grin on my face. Was it scary? Sure! But no scarier than when I had meningitis in second grade. The difference? I was seven and had no idea what was happening. Now? I can say “I won. I’ve won multiple times.”
I don’t think you can really win life or youth or love. But I think a part of me did each of the times that I’ve come out okay. Who cares if I have spinal arthritis?! I’ll still do cartwheels around you (on my good days). On my bad days? Give me my awesome looking cane that scares the crap out of my cats. I’ll grin at anyone that looks at me funny.
Oh yeah, I have this one fatal flaw: I laugh hysterically when I’m in pain. Honest to goodness, most people don’t believe me when I say I’m in pain because I start laughing.
It’s pretty awesome.
In conclusion: I’m 21… or 19… whichever I feel like at the time. How youthful are you? What battles have you gone through that have tried to make you not youthful?