Monday, February 7, 2011

Getting Older

In my mind, I'm 24 years old.  My driver's license says something else, but I plan to retain my youthful attitude.  Just because the clock ticks away doesn't mean we have to lose our "joie de vivre" (zest for life).

I'm older than you guys and can report some good news from that front -- getting old isn't necessarily bad.  There are some valuable advantages to it.

First, you're witness to history.  I remember JFK being shot.  I was only six years old so I didn't know exactly what was happening but I was stunned to see all the adults around me crying.  Really crying.  They were all in a state of extreme shock.  You remember an experience like that.

I saw the Vietnam War tear our country apart.  Families argued and teenagers left home.  Thousands of young men died.  Society was more chaotic than I ever imagined it could become.  The "generation gap" became real.  A rallying cry of the time was "Don't Trust Anyone Over 30."

A second advantage to growing old is that it gives you perspective.  Things that consume you when you are young -- like advancing in a career, getting married and fitting into society -- become much less vital as you age.   You realize the opinions and rules of other people matter little and you feel more free to do what you personally care about.

I just finished a book which made this point in reference to artists.  The book reports that most serious artists do different work in their later years than in their youth.  When they are older, artists care more about the intrinsic quality of their work than the social reception to it.  When you're young, you want everyone to love and respect you.  When you're older, you care less about that and more about doing what YOU think is valuable.

How old are you in your head?  12?  22? 46?

This is me at a Christmas Party in my childhood.

As hard as it is to believe, this is also me,
during my adolescent years, trying to look tough.


  1. That adolescent photo of you reminds me so much of my high school boyfriend!

  2. hehe, great post!! i LOVE your eric clapton tee shirt. i too often forget that i'm almost 30 and a mommy to a 3-year-old and therefore not the 22 year old i still consider myself to be! it's time for me to grow up & stop painting my nails sparkly colors... maybe... ;)

  3. Aww, You were a Super Cute Kid !!! I am probably 22 and 46 in my head. It is a battle Lol . It changes from day to day.

  4. I'm heading quickly towards 45 and am a mom of 4 - which to me, on some level mentally, is just a dream I'm stuck in ... and in reality, I'm a hip hot 24 year old about to begin the journey of life. But being over 40, although to some seems 'so old' .. it's really a new beginning and I found that a switch turned on and I stopped really worry about the world and their opinions about me and got 'real' with myself. Although I don't like the ageing of the skin and the ever so slight slowing down of the body, there are advantages to being your own person.

    You sure were a super cute boy and the tough look is quite hard to believe that young man is you, but then that's the fun of it all, looking back and seeing how we've grown.

    I love your questions ... mwah.

  5. Thanks for sharing intimate moments of your past Ralph - and your look IS tough! hihi. I'm one of those people who always felt older than they are. And from an early age I couldn't get along with my classmates but with older kids. My friends are all older than me, my bf is 13 years older than me and I'm not scared of going bald, grey-haired, fat and wrinkled. It's just the circle of life and that's what makes it so great!! I feel about 45 these days - but that's changing constantly!

  6. I never thougt that was you in the last pic! Thank you for sharing :)
    I'm only 24 so feeling old it something I don't know(yet). It always depents, sometimes I feel like I'm 6 on other days I'm 24. It feels kind of strange sometimes, haha.

  7. I love those pics! I'm not exactly sure how old I am in my head. I guess somewhere in the mid-20s. It's only spoiled occasionally when I do stuff like go out to a bar with my daughters on a weeknight, take the grand kids to a school/sports function, play soccer in a league with only an 18+ age restriction, etc. Honestly, I love being older. It is so much easier being more financially secure, not worrying about what other people think, being wiser (having learned from many experiences), etc.

  8. Thanks, guys. Those of you with a little more life experience (Wendy, TM) appear to be confirming what I wrote. I appreciate you sharing your stories and insights.

  9. Yay, we're the same age, I'm also 24! Naw, seriously... I've probably been around 40 years old in my head for a long time. Possibly I'm getting younger as I age externally :)


  10. Great post, honestly. I tend to fear getting old... for a variety of reasons that mainly have to do with work and family. But - I think you're absolutely right... as you get older, you realize what's important... I know I'm definitely starting to.

  11. Thought provoking post.

    I openly admit that I hate what the aging process does to a body. I hate my gray hairs. I hate gravity. And I hate those damned fine lines that are working their way across my forehead.

    Though I'm just about to turn 37, I still feel like i'm in my young 20s. It's only when I catch a glimpse of myself in pictures or the mirror that I wonder where my youth went.

    I feel like my daughter and my hobbies keep my spirit youthful. It is only now with the age that I have just begun to learn to appreciate what it means to love, the importance of laughter and the little moments that truly make a life special. These are lessons that only time can teach.

  12. I feel in my 20s, but I actually like being older, as you say, for the perspective on things. I feel wiser (even if I'm not, haha).

    I love the pic of you in your Clapton shirt.

  13. The adolescent picture of you is hot. I would have stalked your ass.
    I'm not old. I'm 22. In some ways, I feel like a 5-year old because I laugh anytime someone farts or says "duty." In other ways, I feel like I am 30 because of all the stress I put on myself and because of the number of responsibilities I feel like I have, sometimes. In the worst ways, I feel like I am 70 because I have liver disease, and no 22-year old girl who has never had alcohol in her life has liver disease and two liver surgeries under her belt already.
    It's lame.
    Life is what you make it. I'm learning that age doesn't matter.
    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

  14. I totally agree age gives you a totally different perspective... ! I wish I had the perspective I have now 20 years ago.
    However, for some reason inside I feel I am ALMOST 30. Yeah, let me believe that.

  15. i loved seeing these old photos. in my mind ill always be 16.

    Isabel @ Walk of Fashion

  16. I don't mind getting older, I know each year I grow and learn more and more. I just don't want to look like I am getting older :-). I will be 33 this year still feel like I am 20!

  17. I will turn 29 soon ... and I feel hmmmm ... 25 may be. But I have no issues with age or getting older. I already tell people I am 30. 29 is such a speed breaker.

    Enjoyed seeing your old photos.

  18. In my head, I'm still 18. Forever. Haha! Age is just a number... Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm glad to find another White Collar fan!

  19. You are still as attractive as when you were a teen! I think that's a true statement that you care more about what people think when you're young. I'm 22 and sometimes I feel like I'm 16 (mostly when I'm with my younger sister) but for the most part I feel like I'm 40 because I prefer to stay in than go out clubbing like most people my age!

  20. I feel as though age has calmed fears for me. I'm much less afraid of well, everything now. I love getting older. I love feeling younger. I don't focus on my age unless someone asks me how old I am and then I'm all, OH yeah. I'm old. haha.


  21. I'm really digging your adolescent years look! I never would have guessed! I'm loving the t-shirt (clearly, you always had good taste). Thanks for sharing!

    I feel older in my mind than I actually am. I always have, and I'm sure I always will (which might be kind of scary if I make it to my 70's). When I was 14, I was ready to move out and go to college. When I was in college, I felt older than all my "Soooo, dude, I went out and got loaded last night!" counterparts, despite usually being one of the youngest ones in the class (I think that's one of the reasons why I zoomed through all my requirements and graduated so early). Now, with my 21st birthday on the horizon, I feel like I'm ready to settle down. Settling down at 21? In this day and age?! It seems practically unheard of.

  22. hahaha omg,..this is amazing!! I watched the JFK assasination, my husband wants me to know more of American history...I also met orphan elders whom I took care in the hospice when I was in Philippines, most of them were left during the war, one lady landed there tryng to escape fr Vietnam, she's a Vietnamese=).and about my age in my head? I always think I am 16 physically, but i want to be as tough as a 40 y/o mentally.=)This post is very related to my coming 30th bday..I am obviously older too!

  23. First of all Ralph, thank you. It is very endearing to me when you decide to share snippets from your personal life. And I have to agree you look very tough and equally handsome in your adolescent photo.

    As someone who has always been more matured than everyone around her.....I do not care much about age. I know for a fact that we can accomplish a lot at any age despite what the conventions of society might be regarding that age group. I don't even worry about how I might become ugly as I age.....aging gracefully and naturally is one of my dreams. :)

    Let's see what happens.


    Tashrin - Style musings of a Bengali girl from Toronto, Canada

  24. Most of the time, I think I feel my actual age in my mind. I LOVE being 30. Nothing terrifying here!! I love the part where you stop caring as much what others think as you age. I've absolutely found this to be true, and my God, it is SO freeing. And, good and bad life experiences shape you and make you who you are, and you can't put a price on that. I wonder what age I will feel as I get older. If I'm being perfectly raw, sometimes I do fear wrinkles and LOOKING older at some point - or, I should say, looking DIFFERENT than I always have since I became an adult. The fact that I won't always look the same really weirds me out more than the age factor.

    When I get together with my girlfriends, however, we pretty much immediately revert back to about 15. :) We're pretty annoying and giggle incessantly. A lot of people my age hate having to be "so adult-like." They wish for a simpler time when they were kids and had no bills and could just do whatever they wanted. I had a happy childhood that I savor in my heart, but I truly enjoy being an adult, with whatever responsibilities go with it.

    I've always felt much more mature and wise beyond my years than most other people my age (and have always been told so since I was a kid). I was never into most of the stuff others were into as teenagers or in their early 20s. I was watching old lady shows on TV during summer break. I cared about decorating my house in my early 20s rather than going out. But don't confuse "mature" with an inability to be silly and have fun! ;) With that term, I mostly mean my outlook/perspective on things and my willingness to be responsible.

    P.S. Never in a million years would I have known that was you in the last pic!!! Hunkalicious. heehee Aren't you glad you don't have to pretend anymore, least not all the time. :)

  25. LOL You were so dapper even as a little guy!

    I agree with you about history. There is so much already that I have lived through.

    Sometimes I am 15 all over again, when I get a few hours to be alone, folding laundry and watching Gilmore Girls on DVD, I am 15. I make mix cd's of music I loved in high school and sometimes it feels good to go back to that time. I also really like where I am at right now, so I know I will be doing the same thing when I am older, i will be 25 in my mind.

  26. ps-You look so angry in the second pic! I love the more happy, smiley you that I get to see on your blog every day :)

  27. I always feel that a part of me to is too mature for my age and the other part will never grow up. I'm never sure of what age I'm supposed to be