It used to be that I never felt older after a birthday. I mean aging, life, is this continuing journey and it can sneak up on you – it’s not like it happens overnight, it just might seem that way because you’re finally taking notice.
I’m not sure it was so “sudden” for me. I have noticed a few things for a few years now. To be completely honest, I know that the things I have noticed have more to do with an illness than age, but I’m going to blame it on age, because that allows me to be “normal” instead of talking about this freak thing I had/have. (When I was 25 I died from a freak heart infection. Then a few months later I was diagnosed with a super-rare – not just rare 😛 – autoimmune disease that caused my kidneys to fail. Now I’m in “remission” and I don’t need dialysis or anything, but still my body came back from the whole thing “very different”.)
So, in no particular order, here are the ways I know I am 31 and not 18.
- You need sleep. Seriously, eight hours is essential. Anything less than five means you are going to crash hard the next day, and in the interim be especially spacy/crazy/cranky and any combination thereof. I do not care that your best friend in college was the all-nighter. I do not care that you usually pulled two of them in a row. And yes, I remember your record-breaking all-weeker, but even you admitted that by day six you were a zombie, and it just wasn’t a good idea. So get some sleep!
- You need water to survive. No, you don’t need Coke (the soda – people!) to survive. I promise. (So, I actually kicked my Coke habit last year, and rarely drink soda at all – even when eating out! But I had to mention this because I would not have believed this – even three years ago. I used to drink at least four cans of Coke every day, and zero water. But I notice such a difference in how I feel. Water is life, and without it I feel crappy. But I also blame my kidneys for this, because of #3.)
Alcohol – not so much. I know you’re super Irish and you have never been drunk in your life. In fact, you’re not even sure you have ever been tipsy. You can hold your liquor, and for someone who is 115 pounds, you can drink like someone who is 500 pounds. But you don’t like the taste of alcohol, so you only get flavored martinis, champagne or fruity drinks anyway. Shots – ew. Beer – no thanks. Despite your hereditary tolerance, you just aren’t that much of a drinker, which is the good news. Because now since your body is in a constant state of dehydration, even after zero caffeine and more than 120 ounces of water– your body still acts and feels like you’re dehydrated. So alcohol (or even a heavily caffeinated beverage for that matter) dries you the fuck out. And the elevation in which you live probably doesn’t help. So after just a few sips of wine or beer or anything – you feel a buzzing in your ears, and get a small headache. If you don’t stop soon then the next day you’ll wake up with a slightly sore throat, tired and achy. Your body just can’t handle much alcohol anymore, and yes it sucks on special occasions or when you go to a restaurant that features a cocktail you really want to try, but realize it could be worse. At least, you’re not completely allergic, and can dabble every now and then.
Your body is different – deal with it. If you seriously think you can have your legs form the perfect lotus (I used to dammit!) and can no longer bend that way, guess what? You’re not supposed to be able to bend and otherwise contort your body the way you could when you were 21 – because you’re 31! Sadly this is not about fitness, you’re only five pounds heavier than you were back then. This is just about ability. If the Universe wanted thirty-somethings to be able to bend like twenty-somethings then a lot more people would desire thirty-somethings as opposed to twenty-somethings. It’s okay. Everyone gets older and loses their lotus and other body contortion abilities. Don’t feel too bad about it.
You have intuition – USE IT ALREADY! So, I’m not sure when a person’s intuition develops but I didn’t notice it until I was in high school. And it was high school, where you constantly doubt yourself, so it’s not like you listen. And in college you’re starting to figure out maybe you should listen, but you still don’t. Graduate school, you start to listen… selectively. You’re 31 dammit, and your intuition has never been wrong. No it is not past relationship baggage, paranoia or an inherent distrust that makes you feel this way about some people, because you don’t feel that way about everyone you meet. In fact, you feel this way about a minority. And that minority always ends up being absolutely terrible, toxic and all about drama you don’t need. So the next time your gut is saying, “DANGER, DANGER!” will you please fucking listen? You’re 31, trust yourself. You’re too old for that shit.
Bedtime is before or by midnight. This could be tacked onto the sleeping thing, but seriously going dancing at a club (while you still love to dance) just isn’t as fun as it used to be, particularly if it means missing bedtime. You know I’m right!
You’re done with the games. You have never been one for games – probably because your mother was a master at them, she loves to fuck with some heads – but in college you still tolerated them at times. You put up with political bullshit (as in at a job or within an organization) when you thought it was more productive to ignore it. But now you just shut it down. Seriously, life is precious, and so is your time – you are not wasting any of either on ridiculous people, fronts or other nonsense. You say what you think/feel, and you mean whatever you say. And if someone doesn’t like it, then they should tell you or get over it. You don’t believe in jumping through hoops. Frankly, you think the world is lucky you don’t have any mandatory hoops for others to jump through. When this changes, you will consider jumping through some yourself, but that’s not going to happen (because you hate playing games way more than you hate being a pawn in one).
You are way too “adult”. In college, you may have thought that you were pretty grown up, and you were compared to most (on your own since fifteen will do that), but you seriously had no idea what the heck you were talking about. Now you’re all diplomatic, you use “I feel” statements, and you don’t react based on feelings but based on facts and what would be the most productive. You think about the big picture, and not just the small one in front of you. And shocker – you don’t do or get to do a lot of the things you want to because mortgage payments, budgets and work schedules are real things. Have fun! 😛
These are just some (but definitely the most obvious) of the ways I feel different than I did a few years ago. While these changes didn’t occur right before or after my last birthday – some of them really weren’t noticed or thought much about until I started thinking about my age and what it meant to me. (And this did not occur until a month after my actual birthday – so you know…)
I think some of these are wonderful (#5, #7-8) and others are annoying (all of the rest), but at least I can acknowledge and accept them, and adapt.
My husband is happy so who cares how I bend? And needing so much sleep and water – well they were things I should have already been taking care of, now my body just makes me aware it’s no longer an option. All in all, I’m happy with getting older. I want to believe that I’m like a fine wine that just gets better with age. (At least, I hope that’s the case!) 😛