What's the hardest part about getting older?
Several things, in no particular order:
- Expectations. When you're young, people don't put much on you, other than "How much longer until you get your degree," or you basically having some plans for the future and not being too much of a train wreck. Sometimes, when I was in my teens and 20's, people would be impressed and remark to me that I was very smart or driven for my age, which eventually led me to the realization that for some young people, simply not taking a dump in your pants is a success. When you get older, the inverse is true, and it becomes things like why are aren't you married yet, when are you going to have kids, why haven't you bought a house like half of your friends, and why aren't you farther along in your career. Little mistakes are judged harsher and big mistakes will haunt you for a while, whereas a 20-something doing something dumb like drinking too much and being hungover and sick the next day just exhibits head shakes and chuckles about how dumb young people are.
- Looks. As in the way people judge yours. Not to sound conceited, but I'm a good looking man even at 41, and my face is still slightly younger looking (minimal wrinkles, only a bit of grey hair, very little recede on my hairline at the moment). But in my younger days, the bloom of youth made it way easier to be ultra-cut and look like an adonis, whereas now I pay for diet mistakes way quicker. This is actually fine with me, it's not a huge priority for me anymore since I'm not trying to score quick sexual relationships, but it's annoying to realize that people judge you a bit when I take my shirt off at the beach or have to ask for a size 34 pants from the girl at a clothing store. In addition, while I have always found it easy to banter with anyone, now if I am friendly with a younger girl anywhere I do often get that look of disdain as if I was hitting on her and how dare I because I'm so out of her league, but the meathead jock behind me in line gets the eye bat/hair play treatment, so it's not hard to compute that it's because I no longer look like I did as a 24-year-old personal trainer. Also, when young women do show interest in me, I have found it's almost universally because they have major daddy issues. However, Hollywood and their ilk lead some to believe that we should all be doing the same routine of obscene exercise and personal chef meals the Brad Pitts of the world do, never mind that a big part of their career revolves around maintaining their looks. These are things which make me very happy to be married and not on the market anymore, which brings me to...
- The dating scene I've observed is so horrendous because many of the good potential partners are taken. My single friends' stories have made me beg my wife to take the best possible care of herself. I don't want to deal with baggage (or worse, daddy issues).
- I swore this was never going to happen to me, but I officially don't get large swaths of pop culture, music, and humor which my kids idolize. Meanwhile, bands I loved in college are on classic stations.
- I can't do the things I used to as well. Athletics, working longer hours, getting by with less sleep to cram more time or activities in, whatever. I push myself too hard, I crash harder or get run down easier.
- People then assume I can't do certain things, which also bothers me. In the words of Richard Pryor, "I ain't dead yet, bitch." Yeah, I can't jump out of the gym playing basketball anymore, but I can still shoot and play. I won't be sparring MMA again anytime soon, but I can still practice and train in the arts.
- Mathematically, I have less time to accomplish my life goals. This is both disappointing as well as a slight benefit since I'm now way more driven.
All that said, I would never do my teens or twenties again. I'll deal with getting older, because as my dad always reminds me, it beats the hell out of the alternative.