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honeybee
07-19-2011, 11:24 AM
Ok, so I realize this isn't some type of counseling site, and many of you may not want to read about my depressing story. But I didn't have anyone else I could express these feelings to w/o feeling embarrassed. (Psychologists are outta the question-- 2 expensive)... Ok, so ever since I was 10yrs old I've had this major fear of getting older. I never got excited over birthdays, like most kids. I dreaded them! If I had it my way, I'd stay a kid forever.

I literally went into a deep depression due to this fear; it was right after my freshman yr in HS ended. I went from feeling like a kid 1 day to suddenly realizing adulthood was only 1 chapter away. The mere thought of becoming an adult made me feel sad and terrified. When I say I was depressed over this, I mean REALLY depressed. I was having suicidal thoughts. Though a lot of it had to do with the fact that I had a very lonely childhood (I didn't have friends growing up), and well knowing that I'd never be able to get those yrs back made me depressed. I can look back at the old me (at age 14) and laugh, now, because 14 and 17 sounds so young to me now.

Well, I'm almost 23 and I'm starting to feel almost as depressed as I did when I was 14. But It's not just because I'm getting older. My parents; my siblings. We're all getting so olld! My parents are approaching 50 and it's funny bcus I'm old enough to remember when they were around my age. My brother is 27 (he's 2 close to 30!) and my sister will be 25. I wish we were all still teenagers living in the same house. I miss those days. Funny, it feels like it was just yesterday. I still can't believe I'm as old as I am. Feels like I was a senior graduating from high school just 2yrs ago. It was actually 5yrs ago. It actually seems like I should be making 21--not 23. It seems like time gets shorter every yr. Stuff that happened a whole year ago feels like it happened 5months ago. stuff that happened 3yrs ago feels like it happened a year & 1/2 ago. When I'm 40, I guess 2 yrs will start to feel like 6months?

How do I stop obsessing over this!? I have my moments where I don't feel sad about it; I actually feel hopeful and fortunate. But then 5minutes later the negative thoughts start to reappear into my brain. I don't know how to stop feeling this way. Can anyone else relate to what I'm going through???

TriPolar
07-19-2011, 11:31 AM
Stop getting older?

A couple of years ago I was forced to realize that I'm old. It really sucks, so I understand your concerns. So probably the best thing to do is what you are doing now, wasting all of your youth worrying about getting old. There's no way you'll regret that once you get old.:rolleyes:

Frankly, I think you should seek professional help. People generally don't want to get old, but having the inevitable that everyone faces affect your life in this way is very unusual, and probably an indication of some other problem.

dangermom
07-19-2011, 11:37 AM
Yes, I second the suggestion to get some help. It's normal to feel like time is speeding up and that your youth got away from you while you weren't looking. All of us are sitting here wondering how we got to be nearly 40 when we still feel the same inside as we did at 20. All that you describe is completely normal--except for the part about obsessing over it and getting truly depressed about it.

elbows
07-19-2011, 11:42 AM
Remind yourself what the alternative is to getting older.

Death.

That's it. Two options. Pick one.

The power and beauty of youth truly are wasted on the young. You are young, you are raw material. Every new thing has challenge and adventure in it. Every beginning is magic manifest in your life. Yet you choose, yes, choose, to waste the most precious years of your life obsessing over something you cannot ever control and that the alternative to, is death.

Get over yourself. Choose to not care. Just like you choose to not care about Jersey Shore, or Dancing with the Stars, or the Kardashians. You can do it. Just choose to.

You live in a youth worshiping society, but you get to choose whether you want to drink the koolaid or not.

Choose wisely.

tdn
07-19-2011, 11:48 AM
Get over yourself. Choose to not care. Just like you choose to not care about Jersey Shore, or Dancing with the Stars, or the Kardashians. You can do it. Just choose to.

Easier said than done, of course. But a CBT approach to it might help a lot.

honeybee, can you make two lists? Title one "What sucks about getting older" and the other "What rocks about growing older." Be as specific as you can. You just might learn something about yourself.

Dung Beetle
07-19-2011, 11:50 AM
I didn’t want to grow up either. I guess I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to handle grown-up responsibilities, and I just don’t dig change in general.
I went ahead and got old, at least (40). Along the way, I took on responsibilities and found out they weren’t impossible to deal with. At this point, I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

I think my daughter is dealing with much the same problem. She’s nineteen, and although I’ve forced her to learn to drive, she still has a lot of anxiety about it. She likes school, but the idea of having a job upsets her. She is getting professional help now (and I’m 90% sure she’s snagged a job as well). I think as she continues to have new life experiences, her fears will fade. Hopefully it will work that way for you too.

Hello Again
07-19-2011, 11:54 AM
I really don't know what to tell you, except deal with it while your brain is still young and limber (counselling is not always expensive) lest you become my father, who at 60+ will become a weeping, hysterical wreck of a human being every birthday. One of these encounters sent me into therapy - consider it isn't just your own life you're messing up.

Let me ask you something. You mention that you feel the loss of not having a more "ideal" childhood (welcome to the club). Why aren't you concerned about losing even more of your life by obsessing over something that you can't change? What are you doing right now to develop the kind of life you really want to be living? Is this really a distraction from other feelings, of helplessness or incomptenance, that you've layered onto the fearsome idea of "grown up" so you don't have to address them in your life? are you afraid to be happy and content, because then something might take it away?

Leaffan
07-19-2011, 11:58 AM
A lot of us feel like 23 year olds stuffed inside an older carcass. Just sayin'.

Cat Whisperer
07-19-2011, 12:09 PM
I can somewhat relate - I've lost all my grandparents, a sister, and my dad. I am having some trouble with the idea of me dying - I know it's inevitable, but...what happens then? I have no particular faith to smooth over those fears. I guess what I basically do is just push those fears away - I can't solve them, and I can't do anything about the inevitability of dying, so I consciously re-focus on the life I'm living right now.

Like Dung Beetle said, I think accomplishing things will help you with getting older, too. If you look at your parents and grandparents and people their age, it looks like they know everything and can do everything, but they learned all that one step at a time, too, just like people your age. I don't regret aging (I'm 44) - I'm so much more capable now than I was 20 years ago, and I've got a lot of really cool stuff. :)

Septima
07-19-2011, 12:18 PM
This is what worked for me:

At eighteen I got a weird realization: This is it. This is what I'll feel like for the rest of my life. This is me, and I'll have to live with me forever.

At nineteen, I got a major case of getting-old panic. And I didn't feel any different from eighteen, and I still didn't know what I wanted to do when I grew up, and I felt like the time I had to have fun in was gone. No more fun. All wasted and gone. And then I looked around, and one of my friends was 23 at the time, and he was a fun guy. He was still having fun, he was finishing the education I had just started, and his life looked pretty good. And I thought: "I can do this. I can do 23. It won't be too bad."

And at 23, I looked around at my older friends (more of them now), and guess what? None of them had stopped having fun. Their lives looked good. And I still felt no different then I did at eighteen, but hey, late twenties doesn't look too bad, I can do this.

And now I'm 26, will be 27 soon. And I still feel eighteen, but hey, my thirty-year-old friends are still a pretty fun bunch. I should probably get my life in order soon, but no rush. I'll feel no different next year, and I can do thirty.

Good luck. It gets easier.

NAF1138
07-19-2011, 12:19 PM
You are 23, this is normal. If it's really actually hampering your day to day life, seek help. Otherwise understand that having an existential crisis in your early 20s is part of being in your early 20s and keep on living your life.

One other thought. If you are afraid of growing old, you are fucked. Best to come to terms with that now. But if you are afraid of growing up? Don't. No one says you have to start acting like an old person even when you are an old person. Go out and have fun, and if you don't like birthdays or getting older, don't celebrate them. But celebrate something. Have a good time, and steadfastly refuse to grow up.

Mr. Excellent
07-19-2011, 12:46 PM
This is what worked for me:

At eighteen I got a weird realization: This is it. This is what I'll feel like for the rest of my life. This is me, and I'll have to live with me forever.

At nineteen, I got a major case of getting-old panic. And I didn't feel any different from eighteen, and I still didn't know what I wanted to do when I grew up, and I felt like the time I had to have fun in was gone. No more fun. All wasted and gone. And then I looked around, and one of my friends was 23 at the time, and he was a fun guy. He was still having fun, he was finishing the education I had just started, and his life looked pretty good. And I thought: "I can do this. I can do 23. It won't be too bad."

And at 23, I looked around at my older friends (more of them now), and guess what? None of them had stopped having fun. Their lives looked good. And I still felt no different then I did at eighteen, but hey, late twenties doesn't look too bad, I can do this.

And now I'm 26, will be 27 soon. And I still feel eighteen, but hey, my thirty-year-old friends are still a pretty fun bunch. I should probably get my life in order soon, but no rush. I'll feel no different next year, and I can do thirty.

Good luck. It gets easier.

This. Exactly this. I mean, no one likes getting older - but so long as you make the choice to keep having fun, you can still have fun. I'm 27, turning 28 in a month - and yah, I'm less than thrilled at how fast 30 is coming up. But on the other hand, most of my law school friends are already past 30, and still having fun. Hell, I was dating a 35-year-old woman a couple months ago, and she was still both very hot and a lot of fun. (Also a bit of a religious fanatic, which is part of why we're not still together - but the point stands).

I should also note that you can still make major, major changes to your life for a very long time. I've got friends who *started* law school after 30, and are doing well. Friend of a friend did the Peace Corps in his early 30s - walked away from a BigLaw job to do it. And I think we've got a law student in her forties on this Board.

Your life will continue to be a lot of fun for a long, long time to come. Don't sweat getting older. Heck, my mid-twenties were more fun than my early twenties - and while my life isn't perfect (boring job), in a lot of ways I'm having even more fun now. Good friends, insanely loyal cat, and in a couple of weekends I'm going hiking with the woman of my dreams. In fact, that raises one more point:

I think you get braver as you get older. You really, really do. Mostly because you do more stupid things and find that the world doesn't end. Heck, I'm even taking motorcycle lessons next month. Scary? Absolutely! But I'm finally learning not to be scared of so many things, and my life is richer for it.

You'll be fine, OP. Honest. (Though you may want to get help if your current fears are interfering with your life - no shame in needing help now and again.)

tdn
07-19-2011, 01:39 PM
You guys that are 27 and 28 and reminiscing about your youths are cracking me up. Then again, at 25 I felt like a bitter old man whom life had passed by. I realize now how foolish that was. In a few months I'll turn 50, and I'm looking forward to that being the best decade of my life.

honeybee
07-19-2011, 01:45 PM
Wow! I didn’t expect to get so many responses so quick. For everyone who took the time to read what I had to say and actually respond, thank you sooo much!

@ TriPolar: yes, I realize obsessing over getting older won’t benefit me the least bit. That’s why I don’t understand why I continue to do it anyway. When I was 10 I wanted to be 8. When I was 12 I wanted to be 10 again. When I was 18 I wanted to be 16. And when I turned 20 I wished I was 18 again! Every yr I look back and think, “wow, I felt so old at this age. I thought my life was so miserable at that time. I wasted another year feeling old and miserable when I wasn’t old nor was my life all that bad!”

@tdn: Thanks for responding. I tried to come up with a list, and, I couldn’t think of any great things about getting older but I could think of things that suck about getting older, IMO.

1. I feel pressured to act more serious and mature, even though I’m naturally silly and childish a lot, well, probably most of the time.

2. I feel pressured to have a career making X amount of money by this particular age. I feel like I must have a husband and kids BEFORE that particular age. And once I have a family, I fear my life will no longer be about me, but my kids instead.

3.I won’t feel attractive when I’m older. Others won’t view me as attractive.

4.Your siblings (along with other family members) now have a family of their own and are doing their own thing.

@HelloAgain: Thanks for responding. I really liked your response, because it really made me think. The insane part is that I REALIZE I’m wasting more of my youth by obsessing over it vanishing. And yet I continue to do the same thing over and over, year after year. I’ve changed my hair color and even moved to a different city thinking it would make me a happier person—neither worked. Sometimes I don’t even know what I want. I think it’s friends; that’s what I’m missing. I never had friends to hang out with, laugh with or just share my feelings with. It’s not that no one likes me. I suffer with social anxiety (have my entire life) and it makes it EXTREMELY difficult to form relationships with ppl. (But that’s not the point of this thread.) To answer your last question, yes, I am afraid of being happy because I constantly fear that it won’t last forever. Funny you came to this conclusion all on your own w/o me even saying it lol. It’s weird. Even when I’m having the time of my life, another part of me feels sad because I think it wont last. Sometimes I can just be talking or laughing with one of my parents or my sister, and all of a sudden I’ll start to feel sad. I start feeling sad because I know tomorrow is not promised and I fear that I will one day lose them. Its crazy. I’m always obsessing over things I can’t control: time, death and even other people.

even sven
07-19-2011, 01:48 PM
It does sound like you hve more going on that could use some attention. This sounds more like anxiety than depression to me. CBT might help you gain control of repetitive thoughts and cut off negative feedback loops. Check out Feeling Good.

What you are feeling is normal, and the early 20s can be a tough time. There are some advantages to getting older. In time, you will actually be able to do all those things you dreamed of doing as a kid. It's a nice feeling to actually live the dream and make an impact. But it can be hard to see the path from where you are to where you wish you were. Keep your eye on the prize and it will work out eventually. Never foget your dreams, even when you are strugglig, and there is a good chance you'll get them. It may be a long and twisty path, though.

But it looks good from this side. I wouldn't trade the experiences, wisdom, maturity and fun I have at 30 for the insecurity and aimlessness I had at 20. Ask your sblings and they will likely agree

At any age, life is what you make of it. An active, engaged, learning and growing 60 year old beats a stagnating, distant, closed off 20 year old. Focus on doing the best with what you have and leave the past in the past and the future in the future. Humans suck at predicting what will make them happy, anyway, so it's silly to worry about future emotions that you are almostcertainly going to guess wrong.

Thudlow Boink
07-19-2011, 01:51 PM
I enjoy being an adult a lot more than I enjoyed being a kid. I have more power, more freedom, more opportunities, more control over my life. I've spent several decades learning how to be happy, how to have a good life, what works for me, etc., so now I'm a lot better at it than I used to be. And I hope to get even better in the future.

OP, I'm wondering if maybe your parents and/or the other adults in your life weren't very happy or very good at being adults, so that you didn't have any good role models. Maybe the solution is as simple as finding so happy, optomistic, joyful old people and hanging around with them.

Oh, and whatever you do, do not listen to this song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=q2bo_u_YmW8#t=33s).

Machine Elf
07-19-2011, 01:59 PM
I literally went into a deep depression due to this fear; it was right after my freshman yr in HS ended. I went from feeling like a kid 1 day to suddenly realizing adulthood was only 1 chapter away. The mere thought of becoming an adult made me feel sad and terrified. When I say I was depressed over this, I mean REALLY depressed. I was having suicidal thoughts.

BTDT. Went through a serious emotional crisis when I transitioned from high school to college, and again when I transitioned from college to grad school. Spent the second half of grad school dealing with depression, mostly due to the realization that there was nothing more to come after grad school except decades of unstructured, formless, shapeless life. After finishing grad school, I literally almost did not survive my first day of work. But things got better. There are a great many things I miss about my childhood and young-adult days, but now that I'm 40, there are a great many things about my life now that I would not want to give up either.

You might be interested in this thread from about a year ago. (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=568085) Not quite the same issue as yours, but I think there's enough overlap so that you might gain some useful insight from it.

Claire Beauchamp
07-19-2011, 02:12 PM
There's a bit of a false dichotomy about aging/maturing. You can still have fun, have a "youthful" outlook (whatever that means), have a vibrant personality, etc. etc. etc. while still being an adult, responsible person. On the whole, I think most people should *grow up* in the sense that they learn how to manage their lives, act responsibly, make good decisions, suck it up when it's time to suck it up, etc. That doesn't mean you have to Sell Out to The Man, wear pants up to your armpits, and reduce your social life to watching NCIS reruns with your cat. Adult <> Boring, necessarily. Reconcile this fact. It'll help.

And I third the suggestion of getting into some counseling if this issue is clouding your daily life. A little "omg I'm not going to be 20 forever" is normal; the degree that this is interfering with your state of being is not. Fuck the money, figure out how to see a counselor.

MobiusStripes
07-19-2011, 02:31 PM
1. I feel pressured to act more serious and mature, even though Iím naturally silly and childish a lot, well, probably most of the time.

2. I feel pressured to have a career making X amount of money by this particular age. I feel like I must have a husband and kids BEFORE that particular age. And once I have a family, I fear my life will no longer be about me, but my kids instead.

3.I wonít feel attractive when Iím older. Others wonít view me as attractive.

4.Your siblings (along with other family members) now have a family of their own and are doing their own thing.


Admittedly me telling you this won't fix things, but just so you have other ideas:
1) Who cares what other people think. You are you. Be you. Nothing wrong with silly 40 year olds that think they're 18 at heart (and probably are). Sure, there are times to be mature, but it's not ALL the time! Despite my year-of-birth and receding hairline, I'm pretty sure I'm only half as old as the calendar says.

2) There really isn't any pressure. I mean, cosmically anyway. I can imagine you might get pressure peers and family ,but again, it's your life. You don't have to get married and have kids by any time/date (or at all). The bit about kids in your life changing priorities.. well, that's partly true. Your life is still about you, but it's different. There's probably a few 100 threads on that already.

3) I've seen an awful lot of people I find attractive and age is definitely not the driver. Of course, attraction is rather subjective! (That's a good thing.)

4) Well, yeah. They're doing their thing. You can do your thing. Just cause they have kids and jobs and mortgages and lawns and... doesn't mean you have to. They might be wishing they had made the decisions you did.

Don't let it bother you. (Easier said than done, I know!)

tdn
07-19-2011, 02:35 PM
Interesting simulpost, MobiusStripes. I think we're using different words to say the exact same thing.

tdn
07-19-2011, 02:39 PM
1. I feel pressured to act more serious and mature, even though Iím naturally silly and childish a lot, well, probably most of the time.

2. I feel pressured to have a career making X amount of money by this particular age. I feel like I must have a husband and kids BEFORE that particular age. And once I have a family, I fear my life will no longer be about me, but my kids instead.

3.I wonít feel attractive when Iím older. Others wonít view me as attractive.

4.Your siblings (along with other family members) now have a family of their own and are doing their own thing.

The first two are about how you feel pressured. Are you getting that pressure from other people, or is it coming from inside of you? As to the first one, the ability to act silly and childlike is something that will serve you well all your life. As to the second, why must you achieve those goals by a particular date? Do you think it's "normal" or required?

As to the third thing, you're predicting how you're going to feel in the future. Beware of this becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. FWIW, some of the sexiest women I ever met were in their mid-40s. And they still hadn't figured out what they want to be when they grow up.

As to the fourth, I think it's a bad idea to compare yourself to others. I used to know a woman who, in her 40s, was living a happy life in the city, living in an apartment with her boyfriend, and loving it. She and her boyfriend got a lot of pressure from their families to get married, buy a house in the country, and make babies. You know. "Normal" things that "normal" people do. They ended up doing all of those things, and they ended up miserable.

The point of that is that some people think that there is only one path to happiness, and everyone must be on that path. Is that some of the pressure you're feeling? Hypothetically, if you didn't have to do any of that stuff, would you fear the future as much?

honeybee
07-19-2011, 02:42 PM
@ even sven, thanks for responding!

Funny you mentioned the The Feeling Good Handbook. I just started reading it 3 days ago. I haven't gotten far enough in the book and did enough of the exercises enough times for it to really have any effect on my outlook. Oh, and none of my siblings are thrilled about getting older either; though I'm sure it doesn't bother them as much as it bothers me. We all feel like the years went by way too fast and wish we were younger. But again, it probably doesn't upset them the way it upsets me.

I like how you made the comparison between an active 60yr old and a distant, closed off 20 yr old. It's funny because I've known 50+ yr olds who have more excitement in their lives than I (really rediculous). But part of me still doesn't truly understand how a 40+ could really enjoy life being the age they are.

pbbth
07-19-2011, 02:43 PM
Dude, being a grown-up is awesome. If I want to quit my job and move across the country tomorrow I can do that. If I want to eat ice cream for dinner tonight I can do that. If I want to convert to a different religion or sell my car or let the dishes sit in the sink overnight while I watch reruns of The Simpsons I can do that. I have, in fact, done every single one of those things since graduating from college. When I decided that I would be happier in New York than I was in Dallas and I told my mom I was moving she tried to dissuade me, tried to convince me that I would be happier in Texas, etc. and none of it mattered because where I lived wasn't her decision to make any longer.

If you don't want to have kids then don't have kids. If you don't want to work in the corporate world then get a job where you don't sit at a desk all day. If you want to drink Hawaiian Punch straight out of the bottle with a big curly straw by all means knock yourself out. Yes, the freedoms of adulthood come with the responsibility of taking care of yourself but that is a really small price to pay. All that pressure you feel to do this or that or the other thing? Ignore it. No one has to live your life but you and you only get one shot at it so you might as well do what makes you happy.

If you feel like you don't have the ability to be happy then you may want to see a therapist, but if you are just worried about the "should"s and "shouldn't"s of growing up just calm down a little bit and do what makes you happy instead of worrying what everyone else thinks should make you happy.

tdn
07-19-2011, 02:55 PM
But part of me still doesn't truly understand how a 40+ could really enjoy life being the age they are.

It's really not so different than enjoying life at 20+. Except you get to do it with more money, more confidence, more experience, and less drama.

Machine Elf
07-19-2011, 02:56 PM
But part of me still doesn't truly understand how a 40+ could really enjoy life being the age they are.

Go find some 40-year-olds and ask them how they feel about their lives. This is not a hypothetical: I'm serious, go and do this. Relatives, college instructors, relatives of friends...ask them, and you will get real answers.

It's funny because I've known 50+ yr olds who have more excitement in their lives than I (really rediculous).

If you've known 50YO's with fulfilling lives, why do you feel this to be incomprehensible for 40YO's?

Drunky Smurf
07-19-2011, 03:03 PM
1. I feel pressured to act more serious and mature, even though Iím naturally silly and childish a lot, well, probably most of the time.

2. I feel pressured to have a career making X amount of money by this particular age. I feel like I must have a husband and kids BEFORE that particular age. And once I have a family, I fear my life will no longer be about me, but my kids instead.

3.I wonít feel attractive when Iím older. Others wonít view me as attractive.

4.Your siblings (along with other family members) now have a family of their own and are doing their own thing.

I'm almost 33 and I feel like an 18 yo stuck in a 33 year old body with a bad back. It sucks. But on to your points.

1. Stop doing that to yourself. The only time you really need to be serious and mature is on your job and in money matters. Even at the job you don't always have to be in "adult mode". My coworkers (mid 40s and 50s) and I still joke around and goof on each other.

2. I went through that feeling a lot too and sometimes I still do but I can usually talk myself out of it now. That feeling is what made me ask a girl to marry me when I really did not want to be married yet. I was in my early twenties and out of school and normally the next step is marriage and kids so that's why I asked when I knew I didn't want to yet. We divorced a year later because we were both not mature enough to handle all the weight and responsibility of being married. Thankfully we did not have any kids.

3. Who cares. The only person who need concern themselves with your looks is you.

4. My brother who is two years older than me has been married for eight years and has a seven year old kid. I envy their lives sometimes because I would like to be married and have kids someday and I can see the joy my nephew brings to his life. Other times I see the hassle and frustration he goes through in trying to raise the kid into a good person.

Right now I am single and just trying to enjoy the freedom of it.

honeybee
07-19-2011, 03:06 PM
@ tdn and Mobius, thanks again for responding!

But to answer both of yall's questions... Most of this "pressure" I speak of is coming from within me, I guess. I compare my life to other people too much. Most of the people I went to school with have their own families, now. So I feel like I should too. I feel like I need to have kids before a certain age because as a woman, I won't be able to produce kids forever.

I hate being around mature looking or acting people. They make me feel like an immature kid. And it doesn't help that I look about 5yrs younger than my real age.

And no, if I didn't have to do any of this "stuff" I wouldn't fear getting older lol.

tdn
07-19-2011, 03:10 PM
For what it's worth, I've known a few women 20 years your senior who had their first children at that age.

But anyway, why do you feel like you need to keep up with your friends? Do you think that your life needs to mirror those?

One of the best benefits to growing older is realizing that you can live your own life.

garygnu
07-19-2011, 03:47 PM
All of your concerns read like external pressures you've internalized. Just be.
As long as you're able to take care of yourself, you can be as immature as you like.

And stop counting. Seriously, I have to do math when someone asks me how old I am.
I will tell you that it gets easier to not give a fuck as you grow older.

Omar Little
07-19-2011, 03:52 PM
Your mental age is only as old as you want it to be. Well that might not be completely true, but I am like your parents, approaching 50. But I personally don't feel any different than I did from when I was approaching 30. Sure I'm about 10 pounds heavier, know a ton more than I did back then, but my approach to life and living and having fun is no different. Back then I had no kids, and I now have three at varying ages.

Life is not about clocking the passage of time, it's about the journey and who you meet along the way, new and old. Don't stress about it, embrace it.

Dogzilla
07-19-2011, 04:12 PM
<snip> I compare my life to other people too much. <snip>

This is your problem. I did the same thing at your age. My high school French teacher told me that "these are the best days of your life" and I burst into tears because if it's really all downhill after high school, why bother? Relate?

Another (decent) teacher saw my crying and sat me down and told me that French teacher is a bitter old hag who hates her life and I shouldn't listen to her. Wise woman. She gave me the advice I'm about to give to you.

Sit down and figure out exactly what you want your life to look like. Don't get married and have kids unless you want to get married and have kids. Don't do anything because other people are and it just seems like the thing to do next. Do things because you want to do them. Do your homework before you make big decisions and make the best decisions you can. And remember that there are do-overs in Real Life. You do get second chances. Nearly every stupid terrible poorly thought out decision I've ever made has been reparable to some degree. Very few mistakes completely and totally ruin the rest of your life forever. One of the best parts about being a grown up is you get to change your mind.

It gets better. I promise. There are some things that suck about being a grownup (like no Spring Break, no summers off, most people have to go to work every day), but there are so many things that are completely freaking awesome about being a grown up... if I had the chance, I'd go back to my high school French class and punch that stupid teacher right in her pointy little boob. She was dead wrong.

It gets better.

tdn
07-19-2011, 04:24 PM
As long as you're able to take care of yourself, you can be as immature as you like.

I want to address this bit right here, because it's a nuanced distinction.

There's a difference between having fun and being immature. It's the difference between being childlike and being childish. Being mature, to me, is about having the emotional intelligence to handle problems without throwing a tantrum, knowing that your actions have consequences, and not needing to hurt others in order to feel better about yourself. It does not mean having to be serious about everything all the time.

I've met plenty of people, of all ages, who are serious about everything and yet are not mature.

Anne Neville
07-19-2011, 04:48 PM
Don't do anything because other people are and it just seems like the thing to do next.

This. God, yes, this. Never, ever, do anything because it seems like the thing to do next.

Also, don't do things because you're scared of the alternative.

I went to grad school in astronomy because it seemed like the next thing to do, and I was scared of the Real World(tm). This was a boneheaded move.

Especially do not get married because "you don't want to be alone", or because other people expect you to get married. I didn't do this, but from what I've seen, it's a good way to be miserable.

If thinking of doing something makes you miserable, don't do it, if at all possible. No matter how much everybody expects you to do it, or how awkward the explanations of why you're not doing it might be.

if I had the chance, I'd go back to my high school French class and punch that stupid teacher right in her pointy little boob. She was dead wrong.

What she's going through is worse than being punched in the boobs. She feels that her life has already peaked and there's nothing she can do about it. She probably doesn't like her job and doesn't think there's anything she can do about that. She has abandoned all hope that things could be better, just like the sign above the entrance to Dante's Inferno encouraged people to do.

I compare my life to other people too much.

Don't do that. For one thing, it makes you miserable, except when you compare yourself to really obvious losers. For another, you can't really get an accurate first-person view of anyone else's life. How you see someone else's life and how they experience their life might be totally different. Probably are, in fact.

it doesn't help that I look about 5yrs younger than my real age.

There will come a day when you will be glad of this, if it's still true.

Blaster Master
07-19-2011, 05:17 PM
It's the difference between being childlike and being childish.

I'm so glad someone said this, because I was going to say the same thing. I had a fear of growing up myself that I grappled with for a few years. I'm not sure it's quite the same thing, but for me it really boiled down to a concept I had in my mind that I was forced to get older, getting older means I have to grow up, growing up means I have to be responsible and give up on the beauty and wonder of childhood. I remember having a lot of conversations about it, and people trying to explain it to me, and though I understood it at an intellectual level, I didn't get at an emotional or spiritual level. But at one point, someone was castigating me for being childish, and someone stepped to my defense with something very close to that, and ultimately they agreed that I was indeed not childish.

Anyway, for me, I did do a fair bit of work on it, though not with a psychologist, and once it finally clicked with me, I can generally handle "adult" situations maturely and seriously, then flip a switch and have a blast being a "child" playing with toys or watching cartoons or just maintain that wonder with the world. It was really just truly, deeply understanding that there's nothing about getting older that means I have to change who I am. Sure, I need to take on some additional responsibilities, but it's not an all or nothing sort of deal.

svd678
07-19-2011, 05:27 PM
What's really depressing is when your children are all in their fifties!

Malleus, Incus, Stapes!
07-19-2011, 05:55 PM
How Can I Get Over Fear of Growing Up?

I thought it was just me!

-MIS!, age 22

Infovore
07-19-2011, 06:04 PM
I found this article (http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-reasons-life-better-after-age-30/) surprisingly insightful about this very topic.

Edit: This one (http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-reasons-life-actually-does-get-better/), too.

CrazyCatLady
07-19-2011, 09:37 PM
1. I feel pressured to act more serious and mature, even though Iím naturally silly and childish a lot, well, probably most of the time.

2. I feel pressured to have a career making X amount of money by this particular age. I feel like I must have a husband and kids BEFORE that particular age. And once I have a family, I fear my life will no longer be about me, but my kids instead.

3.I wonít feel attractive when Iím older. Others wonít view me as attractive.

4.Your siblings (along with other family members) now have a family of their own and are doing their own thing.



1. Meh, so long as the bills are paid, the dishes are washed, and the toilet's been cleaned in the last few weeks, feel free to sit around in your Spongebob undies watching My Little Pony cartoons and eating Sugar Pops. Or bouncing around in a reindeer antler headband. Or walking down the sidewalk pretending to be an airplane. If anybody has a problem with that, the appropriate response is this: Pbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbt. Bonus points if you stick your thumbs in your ears and waggle your fingers.

2. Yeah, that's crap. It doesn't matter when or if you get married or have kids, provided you're doing it because it's really, truly what you want and not something you feel like you should want. Doing things that aren't what you want because it seems like what you ought to want is the surest route to misery.

3. Well, I was never what you'd call a ravishing beauty to start with, so I don't really feel I've lost much by aging. I still have my good features and my less-good features, and my husband still looks at me the way he did when we were 19.

4. Yeah, but that's a good thing. All the squabbling and petty bullshit that went on when you were all kids goes away. And every spouse that enters the family, every niece and nephew, is another person for you to love, who can love you. And you get the chance to be the cool aunt--the one who takes the kid to the zoo and pays for pony rides and tons of candy, and then when the kid is overstimulated, late for a nap, and has a load in her pants...gee, would you look at the time. Gotta be going.

Being a grown-up is great. If I want to sit around in my underpants watching cartoons and eating popcorn with my dogs, my parents' opinions about more productive things I could be doing don't matter. I can waste time if I want, provided all my major responsibilities are fulfilled. If I want chickens for my backyard, their conviction that chickens are stinky, horrible creatures don't matter. I can have all the chickens I bloody well want. If I hate meatloaf, nobody makes it for dinner and expects me to eat it anyway.

I am afraid of being happy because I constantly fear that it wonít last forever. Funny you came to this conclusion all on your own w/o me even saying it lol. Itís weird. Even when Iím having the time of my life, another part of me feels sad because I think it wont last. Sometimes I can just be talking or laughing with one of my parents or my sister, and all of a sudden Iíll start to feel sad. I start feeling sad because I know tomorrow is not promised and I fear that I will one day lose them.

Don't fear that happiness won't last forever and that you will one day lose the people you love. Know it. Embrace that knowledge, because the corollaries are vitally important to being happy.

Of course happiness doesn't last forever. NOTHING lasts forever. Not the good stuff, and not the bad stuff. The days of joy and laughter end...and so do the days of fear, pain, and sorrow. Sometimes it's the only thing that keeps us going through the bad times, the sure and certain knowledge that they won't last. As the old saying goes, this too shall pass.

You WILL lose the people you love, or they will lose you. And that makes every single day you spend with them a gift to be treasured and rejoiced in. The sooner you truly, viscerally know that, the luckier you are. Even when that knowledge comes as a result of tragedy or near-tragedy.

monstro
07-19-2011, 10:48 PM
There are benefits to being an ageless fawn. As everyone has said much more eloquently than I will, as long as you're supporting yourself and not being an aggravation to anyone, who cares if you're not some grouchy, serious grown-up? Those people aren't fun anyway.

I'm childlike. I just turned 34 yesterday and I still feel like I'm twelve. People have told me I look like I'm twelve. My trusted psychologist told me that I'm emotionally twelve years old. That stung, yes. To have it confirmed to me in that way, all severe and in my face...it wasn't very pleasant. I won't lie. I cried and wondered what I could have done to not be in this "situation." But I can't worry about that now. All I can do is grow at my own pace and not worry about hitting all the magical milestones I've managed to skip over.

I'd rather be childlike than older than my years. You know how kids don't worry about stuff? They live in the moment and everything is new and wild to them? I'd rather be like that than be cynical and jaded. I do have an edgy side; I'm not going to perpetrate like I'm some innocent angel. But I don't have to worry about "finding my inner child." I like that about myself. I haven't always been this comfortable with myself, to be sure. Therapy has helped, and I think being exposed to grouchy, older-than-their-years people has also pushed me in this direction. You'll see, as you experience things, that you are much better being you than trying to be someone else.

Do I feel like I'm a disappointment to my parents? Of course. I'd liked to be normal and not so eccentric. I'd like to be able to converse with my peers about sex and guys and wine and crudites and curios cabinets and diaper genies and manicures and all of that. One day full acceptance of "me" will come. I know it will. In the meantime, I can enjoy the freedom that comes with being an adult child. Freedom from responsibilities (except to myself). Freedom from social expectations (I'm working on shedding off self-imposed "pressures"). Freedom to be who I am, the way I am, at this exact moment. This has been enjoyable... learning new things and finding out that I'm much stronger and smarter than I thought I was.

Don't worry about getting old(er). My life has not gone by so fast, and it has slowed down a lot since I have gotten a new perspective on things. Like now it seems like forever since I was in my worrisome twenties. The more you worry about life, the faster it will fly by. Kind of like the more you count down the hours before you have to wake up for work during an insomnia attack, the faster time seems to go, and then the less likely you are to fall asleep. You must learn to live in the moment and make it last. Stretch out the day so that you collapse into bed completely exhausted and sleep like a baby.

Just like a little kid does.

raspberry hunter
07-19-2011, 11:40 PM
Dude, being a grown-up is awesome. If I want to quit my job and move across the country tomorrow I can do that. If I want to eat ice cream for dinner tonight I can do that. If I want to convert to a different religion or sell my car or let the dishes sit in the sink overnight while I watch reruns of The Simpsons I can do that. I have, in fact, done every single one of those things since graduating from college. When I decided that I would be happier in New York than I was in Dallas and I told my mom I was moving she tried to dissuade me, tried to convince me that I would be happier in Texas, etc. and none of it mattered because where I lived wasn't her decision to make any longer.

If you don't want to have kids then don't have kids. If you don't want to work in the corporate world then get a job where you don't sit at a desk all day. If you want to drink Hawaiian Punch straight out of the bottle with a big curly straw by all means knock yourself out. Yes, the freedoms of adulthood come with the responsibility of taking care of yourself but that is a really small price to pay. All that pressure you feel to do this or that or the other thing? Ignore it. No one has to live your life but you and you only get one shot at it so you might as well do what makes you happy..

Quoted for truth.

What I loved about being in my 20's: Not having to take exams. Not having to stay up late working on problem sets or writing papers. Having my own source of income. Not being dependent on my parents. Being able to eat cookie dough for lunch if I wanted to. (Though pro tip? Not a good idea.) Learning to cook yummy food that I liked a lot. Being able to decide exactly what I wanted for dinner, and if I wanted eggplant, by golly I could do that. Learning to figure out what to do with the weird odds and ends in the refrigerator. Traveling. Being more attractive than I was in college because I was always running on too little sleep and not enough time to look decent and also because I didn't know the faintest thing about clothes then.

What I love about being in my 30s:
Being able to buy stuff if I want to, or not. Having my own place that I can mess up if I want to. (In my 20's I had roommates. I have a husband now, but it's easier to get him on my side with messes :) ) Taking classes at the community college in things I think are really cool, like jewelry making. Figuring out how to be better at stuff. Hanging out with my family and my sibling's family and my husband's siblings' families and the cutest nieces and nephews on the planet. (Seriously, if you are naturally silly and childish, like me? Nieces and nephews totally rock because they get you and you get them and they think you're wonderful because you think putting stuffed frogs on your head is cool and adults don't usually. And their parents will love you too.) Being more attractive than I was in my 20's because I finally figured out clothes to a certain extent at least.

Check back in five years and I'll tell you what I love about being in my 40's :) I expect I'll learn something about hair and/or makeup and be even more attractive ;)

Seriously, this is an awesome time to learn things and do things without pressure. I don't think you're quite realizing how awesome it is to be grownup. And no one said you had to really figure out what you want to do. My husband and I still don't know (though we'll probably keep on doing engineering, as we haven't found anything better yet).

tdn
07-20-2011, 12:15 AM
Quoted for truth.

I'm not quite sure who you're quoting here. But does it matter? There's a lot of Elder Wisdom Truth in this thread. The benefits of growing older FAR outweigh the alternative.

honeybee
07-20-2011, 12:53 AM
I just wanna say thank you to each and everyone of you who took the time to read what I had to say and offer your own advice. I really appreciate! I feel so much better after reading all of these responses. I just hope I can continue to feel this way. I think I may need to print out this entire thread and post it on my wall and re-read it everyday lol.

Bibliothecarius
07-20-2011, 08:56 AM
Oh, and whatever you do, do not listen to this song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=q2bo_u_YmW8#t=33s).

When I clicked on that link, the supporting google ads were for life insurance and funeral parlors...:eek:

In response to the OP, what you are experiencing is a quarterlife crisis (http://www.quarterlifecrisis.com/). It is extremely common and several books and articles have been written about it, in addition to the aforementional website/online support group. They also have a forum where you can discuss your constant existential anxieties with other impoverished and confused twentysomethings. :cool:

Rest assured, though. When you are 30, or 40, or 50 for that matter, you will look back on this moment in your life and laugh at how incredibly young and naive you were. We all do. :) Life definitely gets better. It just takes awhile.

Now go eat some ice cream already.

GrandWino
07-20-2011, 09:05 AM
My wife and in are in our mid-30's, we have jobs, bills, and a 4 year old and a 10 year old (mine from an earlier marriage.)

Last night we went to see a band we like at a small rock club, got drunk on margaritas before we went in, weaver our way to within 5 feet of the stage and danced our asses off for over two hours. Then we came home, paid the sitter, and then dragged our old butts out of bed for work this morning.

Sure, maybe recovery time is a little longer for us - and there's no way we could do this every night - but we had so much damned fun, and I don't see it ever not being something we love to do, even in our 50s and 60s.

Growing up isn't a bad thing at all.

Clothahump
07-20-2011, 11:36 AM
A lot of us feel like 23 year olds stuffed inside an older carcass. Just sayin'.

+1 on this. And occasionally, that eternally 23 year old brain will write a check that the 62 year old body has trouble cashing. :D

raspberry hunter
07-20-2011, 12:34 PM
honeybee, so glad you're feeling better!

I was thinking about you this morning and thought of a couple more things. One was a friend of mine who (he was about 30 at the time) went out and bought a huge supply of those flexible straws. He explained that he and his wife were talking about how they loved to drink through them, and then -- "And then I realized that there was nothing preventing me from doing that!" So now he uses one of those straws every time he gets a drink. It's awesome.

Some things you may want to try doing:

-Find something you want to learn and take a class in it at the local community college. Seriously, right now is the best time to learn stuff. Getting older has advantages too -- in my 30's I have much more of a knowledge base to draw on, and presumably that will just keep getting better -- but the 20's are probably the best time to pick up another skill you've always wanted to learn, like pottery or jewelry or Italian or knitting or graphic arts or painting or whatever.

-Indulge yourself in something small and cheap and childish (like flexible straws, or blowing bubbles, or those little foam capsules that turn into animals -- I LOVE those, or going out at night to look at the stars), at least once a week. Just because you can. Because there's no one there to stop you. (My parents thought all those things were really dumb and childish, but now I can do them, so there!)

-Figure out somewhere you want to travel and save up money and make plans for it (and maybe take a class to learn a language if it's another country with a different language). Because you can! Because no one is stopping you!

-Sign up for Big Brother/Big Sister. This is something I really wish I had done in my 20's (I have too many commitments now). People I know who've done it really like it.

-Find a church community if you are religious (perhaps consider a Unitarian congregation if you aren't). You mention having a hard time with friends -- I found having a community like this to be really good for both my mental state and for having people to hang out with. Especially little kids -- volunteer for working the nursery if they have one. They will love you for that and you will get to enjoy being childlike -- but you can always hand the kids back when their diapers are stinky :)

-Volunteer for some cause you care about.

-Like I said in my last post, if your siblings/childhood-friends are starting to have kids, hang out with them and with the kids. Invite the family over for a playdate/lunch. Play with the kid. Offer to walk with the kid to a park or just on a walk for an hour to get him/her out of the parent's hair. (I advise doing this with older well-behaved kids to start, though!) The parents will love you. The kid will love you. There is nothing like it. Even having my own kid (which I adore) is different from being the awesome play-in-the-dirt aunt (if only because I can't give my kid back to anyone if she starts crying or being poopy...)

salinqmind
07-20-2011, 12:41 PM
The first thing you should do is seek treatment for depression and/or anxiety disorder. The fear of aging isn't the real problem, it is a manifestation of the underlying disorder. (Not to say a $4 generic prescription of Paxil issued by a GP is going to make your world suddenly rosy and bright, but I took it for a while and was able to stop crying about nothing in particular, for hours every day.)

Other than that, I do love the responses posted here! (because I'm not getting any younger and am starting to obsess about aging, too.)

Stoid
07-20-2011, 12:52 PM
It seems like time gets shorter every yr. Stuff that happened a whole year ago feels like it happened 5months ago. stuff that happened 3yrs ago feels like it happened a year & 1/2 ago. When I'm 40, I guess 2 yrs will start to feel like 6months?

Yes. And when you're 53, 2 years will feel like 3 months.

HCan anyone else relate to what I'm going through???

Yes.

Living Well Is Best Revenge
07-20-2011, 01:45 PM
Do I feel like I'm a disappointment to my parents? Of course. I'd liked to be normal and not so eccentric. I'd like to be able to converse with my peers about sex and guys and wine and crudites and curios cabinets and diaper genies and manicures and all of that.

Crudites! That made me LOL.

Thudlow Boink
07-20-2011, 04:19 PM
Crudites! That made me LOL.Because you remember monstro's crudites thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=607700)?

Wanna converse with your peers about crudites? That's what the SDMB's for!

honeybee
08-08-2011, 01:56 PM
Ok, So I didn't think I'd be revisiting this post again. (Or at least I hoped I wouldn't.) After reading all these responses I felt MUCH better-- for 2 whole weeks. But now I'm feeling the exact same way I felt 2 weeks ago since my birthday is in a few more days. I don't know how to stop obsessing over my age :-( I think about it when I go to sleep. And It's even worse when I wake up! I wake up feeling really sad and hopeless, and then I get what feels like a panic attack. My heart starts racing and then I get this funny feeling in my stomach (I guess it's butterflies?).I think I really need to see a therapist cause I know this isn't normal. I haven't felt THIS depressed about my age since I was 14 1/2.

Crazy thing is, I wasn't even that worried about turning 23 til 2 people mentioned how "old" I was getting. My daddy told me I was getting "old". And then a friend of mine, who's only a YEAR younger than me btw, said I was "getting over the hill". And then there was something else I heard this one customer say. He told my co-worker (who's 27) that she didn't have too long to go before she turned 30, and that once a woman hits 30 no man will want anything to do with her. Her phone will stop ringing and she'll just have that ONE "homegirl" to talk to. I know I have another 4 more yrs to go til I'm 27, but when I think of how fast these past 4yrs have went by I can't help but feel depressed about it. You might as well say I'll be 27 in two more yrs (approaching "old lady" status"). When I turned 22, for some reason, 30 no longer seemed "old" to me. I suddenly realized I wasn't THAT far from 30 myself. The next 7 or 8 yrs will pass by sooo fast; I know bcus they already have! And it's only gonna feel shorter with each passing yr.

I dont even know what more I'm expecting from this message board. People have already said all there is to say. I don't what else it takes for me to stop feeling this way. A tragedy?

Hello Again
08-08-2011, 02:33 PM
I dont even know what more I'm expecting from this message board. People have already said all there is to say. I don't what else it takes for me to stop feeling this way. A tragedy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. A lot of Dopers have used and recommend the Feeling Good Handbook (http://www.amazon.com/Feeling-Good-Handbook-David-Burns/dp/0452281326). Many types of thoughts are a habit, and they are a habit you can break and replace with a more positive, productive habit of thought.

tdn
08-08-2011, 02:51 PM
And then there was something else I heard this one customer say. He told my co-worker (who's 27) that she didn't have too long to go before she turned 30, and that once a woman hits 30 no man will want anything to do with her. Her phone will stop ringing and she'll just have that ONE "homegirl" to talk to.

One of the benefits of growing older is realizing that kids are idiots. Stop listening to idiots!

Spice Weasel
08-10-2011, 11:00 AM
A lot of us feel like 23 year olds stuffed inside an older carcass. Just sayin'.
And a lot of us have always felt 60.

As for getting older, it basically rocks (not that I'm ancient or anything - I'm 28.) Every year seems to offer more freedom and opportunity to take charge of my own life than the last.

raspberry hunter
08-10-2011, 12:32 PM
Crazy thing is, I wasn't even that worried about turning 23 til 2 people mentioned how "old" I was getting. My daddy told me I was getting "old". And then a friend of mine, who's only a YEAR younger than me btw, said I was "getting over the hill". And then there was something else I heard this one customer say. He told my co-worker (who's 27) that she didn't have too long to go before she turned 30, and that once a woman hits 30 no man will want anything to do with her.

<snip> I don't what else it takes for me to stop feeling this way. A tragedy?

Well, for one thing I'd stop hanging out with these people. Seriously, what is with that? Also, if you are old at 23 then your daddy is pretty ancient. I bet he doesn't think so though. ...On the other hand, the people who said you were old might have meant it as a compliment -- a lot of times people will say that 23 is old in the sense of "you're no longer a gawky ugly adolescent with pimples that no one takes seriously; welcome to being a beautiful, awesome, self-confident adult!"

Also, you need to stop taking random obnoxious stranger's comments as gospel. My best friend from college started dating a guy at 33. I just found out they are going to get married -- she'll be 35 when they tie the knot. My husband's aunt got married for the first time when she was more than 60 years old (I think she was about 70, but I am not totally sure).

Also, I totally second, third, fourth, whatever, the suggestion of cognitive behavioral therapy. As soon as you can!

tdn
08-10-2011, 12:41 PM
Well, for one thing I'd stop hanging out with these people. Seriously, what is with that? Also, if you are old at 23 then your daddy is pretty ancient. I bet he doesn't think so though. ...On the other hand, the people who said you were old might have meant it as a compliment -- a lot of times people will say that 23 is old in the sense of "you're no longer a gawky ugly adolescent with pimples that no one takes seriously; welcome to being a beautiful, awesome, self-confident adult!"

Or they were busting your chops.