I recently returned from a “study” abroad internship program in London, where I spent an unforgettable four months working at a wonderful publishing house, enjoying classes held at pubs and Tate Modern, traveling to different countries and going spectacularly broke. $2.36 in my bank account? Worth it- my report card hadn’t looked this fridge friendly since elementary school.
When I returned, it dawned on me that I felt- no I am older. My hearing is depleting (thanks to those tiny, uncomfortable headphones attached to my Ipod), my knees hurt (what was I thinking ever running on real solid earth, why didn’t I bother to find an elliptical?) and my eyes are growing progressively worse (why, why do I insist on reading?) Then there are the nagging, but remarkable, Prilosec pills I take for my heartburn, greeting me every morning with their depleting contents and reminding me once more that I have GERD and am only twenty-one.
I then faced a slightly more major reality: I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. And I had to, had to know my life plan by the time I set foot back in the States. I called my Mom in early February, whining, “ Mom, I thought I just liked psychology- but I’m really liking my publishing internship. Ah, I want to do it all!”
“ Me too!” she said back.
I knew, vaguely, that my Mom had always wanted to work with computers, however runs an art business. She apparently wanted to do it all- and now that I hadn’t simply flown the nest- I had migrated-and my brother was in his senior year of high school, she thought it was the right time.
When I returned, she had enrolled in computer classes, and still runs the art business as well as works at a local college working with computers. There isn’t an age anymore where you can say, “ Oh, it’s too late for that” or, “ Oh, I’ve always had a thing for numbers, but that was just a phase” without feeling a small pang. Try saying “You’re too old to…” to my Grandmother, who remarried at sixty-nine, or my other late Grandmother who enrolled in her local college for poetry and yoga courses at the age of seventy. She wore a baseball cap and would call me asking if she should bring in cookies or French toast to her classmates as treats.
“ French toast, definitely the French toast,” I told her. Who in college knows how to make that? They loved her, and in turn she had twenty new college-aged friends.
I expressed my “ I’m getting ‘old’” issues about deafness and weak knees with my Mom, who turned fifty-two the other day. She told me, in the most maternal way, to shut up. It was just the wake up call I needed. In no way was I old- I was just maturing. In fact, the word “old” is simply becoming obsolete. Forty is the new thirty, thirty the new twenty, twenty the new…ten? Simply put, with all the new advancements in today’s day and age (I’m talking about gyms, healthy eating, medicinal advances), age is just a number, and is becoming less of an impediment and more of an empowerment. So the next time you’re thinking you just can’t buy those fun flip flops, you love art but teach chemistry, or you just really don’t like those new across the forehead bangs you got, do something about it. Get a pedicure, enroll in an art class, invest in bobby pins. I don’t need Jessica Simpson or another once acne prone star to endorse this form of Proactive, the accomplishments speak for themselves.