Fresh from my 26th birthday (will I ever stop dropping into conversation that it was my birthday?!), I had my usual ‘reflection on life’. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about ageing that makes me look back over everything I have done and assess where I’m at. In recent years, I find myself thinking of my friend who passed away a few years ago whenever I do this. I find myself asking if he’d be proud of me. I wish I could talk to him. I miss him.
But his death reminds me that life is a privilege. The only thing we are guaranteed in life is that no one gets out of it alive. What happens between the beginning and the end is up to us.
These ideas empower me, in a way. They push me to do better, to be better. They make me chase my goals unashamedly. I have got better at ignoring my doubts and simply going for the things I want, even if I worry I aren’t qualified enough or aren’t popular enough. They have made me feel less afraid to tell people how I feel because you never know if you will get that chance to again. From losing someone so close, I have learnt so much.
One of the biggest things my friend’s death taught me is that ageing is a privilege and I think that so often we forget that. We are force fed narratives of how ageing is something to fear – crows feet are ugly, wrinkles aren’t attractive, sagging skin should be hidden. I think we forget that we are lucky to have the chance to grow old, to wrinkle, to sag, to slow down, to have a wealth of experience.
I don’t fear ageing. Sure, if we could all be young, fit, healthy and 21 forever, that would be fun… but only for a little while.
There’s a lot of good to come from ageing. Not having to worry about carrying your ID all the time, to name just one. Laughter lines show all the times you’ve enjoyed yourself, frown lines show that you’ve lived your life with feeling. We can get Botox and fillers all we like, but really we’re fooling no one, and why should we? To age is to have made it. To age is a privilege not all of us are afforded.
That’s something I can never, and will never, forget.
When you lose a friend when you’re young, your perspective on a lot of things shifts. I’d say that even on bad days I still find time to be grateful, even if it’s only over something small. I am grateful that I have lived for another year on this planet. I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given and the opportunities I have taken, for the people I have met and the places I have been able to see. I am grateful to be here, to be lucky enough to type this post and to live this life.