What, for you, were the most unexpected things about aging?

I turned 36 this year, not exactly ancient but no longer young, either. I am just starting to feel the beginnings of joint pains in my knees, barely. That’s to be expected, I suppose.

Unexpectedly – just because I never consciously pondered it – my sex drive is also much lower than in my teens and 20s, and it’s a huge relief. I’m much happier and calmer when not pining over some random lady or another. Other small, unexpected things: My vision stabilized enough to get Lasik, and I finally know what life is like not needing glasses (after 30 years). I get “sir” ed a lot more frequently, even though I still get carded when buying alcohol. Bar patrons seem more like kids than potential mates now. Most of my coworkers now, when I enter new jobs, are younger (and smarter!). I can spend a few hours without looking at my phone, and find it calming instead of anxious. I enjoy trees and plants a lot more, and observe insects instead of panicking. Discovered a new love of martial arts. Booze is less appealing. Capitalism and wealth accumulation and retirement seem even less important now than they were in my youth. Depression (from covid) is both more acute and more manageable, and emotions generally are easier to handle. And so on and so forth. It’s nice to start feeling a bit like an adult :slight_smile:

What was the experience like for you? What of it did you expect, and what caught you off guard?

At 66, I continue to be disturbed by how badly my vision has deteriorated. The world is very blurry if I don’t wear my specs.

More disturbing still are the too-frequent episodes of forgetting what I was just talking about or thinking about. My brain is quick to discard. It’s frightening.

One thing that I find really weird - in many ways I don’t feel as old as I am. In my mind, I’m still the insecure kid I was decades ago, tho at this stage, I do speak up when I feel like I’m being treated unfairly. And I am less shy.

Bingo arms. The rest of my body is pretty ok aesthetically, but my arms flap even in a slight breeze.:rofl::rofl:

It’s hard for me to say because, physically, I’m in better shape at 55 than I was 45, maybe even 35. I’ve always try to stay fairly active but my job was pretty sedentary during those decades and I never really ate that well. Additionally, I gave up alcohol five years ago. I was fat, drunk and depressed; I was floundering. It’s not like I’m ripped or anything now, but I work in a warehouse and my sore muscles and joints don’t really bother me that much anymore.

Here’s one thing though … my prostate likes to have fun every once in a while - or maybe it’s my bladder. I will go from feeling completely comfortable to “I think I might have to pee,” to “If I don’t get to a toilet right now I’m going wet my pants” in about a minute and a half.

Dry hands. I remember when I was in my twenties watching older people lick their fingers to turn a page, thinking, what’s wrong with them? Don’t their fingers grip anymore? Now, for the past 10 years or so (I’m in my fifties), I feel their pain, especially in the winter. My fingers are so dry and slippery that I can’t turn pages, open plastic bags, etc.

Definitely the most unexpected thing about aging for me.

Aside from the many, many, many physical “surprises”…

Both of my parents are gone, and I just lost my only brother in January. I am now the only person left of my family. It’s not just a matter of missing them, but a deep feeling of aloneness that’s not assuaged by people who are still here.

I just turned 53.

I think I’ve been a lot more lucky/fortunate than most others my age. I’m not on any meds and have never had surgery. And so far, I still have a high sex drive. The only change I’ve really noticed is my eyesight. I have to remove my glasses to see anything up close.

I find that being my age comes with perks. I work in a technical field and have way more experience than most others in my group. (This also has the disadvantage of management wanting me to “mentor” people. I don’t have time for that.) I’m payed well, and I no longer feel the need to “prove” myself. My car insurance is also very low.

This. I suppose I’m more “mature” than I used to be - less impulsive, slower to anger, more able to consider other points of view - but my personality, likes and dislikes, personal beliefs, etc., all remain pretty much the same as when I was in my 20s. Not sure what I was expecting, I guess. I feel like I’m the same person I always was, just that the packaging is starting to deteriorate.

One think that may not be totally unexpected, but isn’t happening in the way I expected, is that I have trouble standing up straight. Standing with my back perpendicular to the ground feels uncomfortable and unnatural. If I bend my back five or ten degrees it feels fine. When I catch myself doing it I straighten up, but soon I’m slouching again. I see old guys bent over at 45 degrees and I can now understand how they got there.

Mentally I still feel like I’m in my 20s. I listen to the same music, drink beer, etc. In many ways I haven’t grown up. Hopefully I never will. :slight_smile:

Just turned 59. Male. I am surprised that my sex drive remains very high. Not true for everyone I guess. Also, hair growing from my ears. That was a surprise.

No prostate issues yet, knock on wood.

I’m 56, and got the ear hair 2 or 3 years ago. I had laughed at a friend who had it, so it was karma. My knees started bugging me a little 20 years ago, but that was after a lifetime of distance running. I cut down and they don’t really bother me any more. Sex drive hasn’t dropped much, but it’s not as difficult getting through Aunt Flow’s visits as it used to be.

Emphasis added. You’re probably still a bit young for that one to seem that important yet. Keeping up with the Joneses, material accumulation and all that may not be your bag and more power to you. It’s a rat race :slight_smile:.

But not having to work until you drop will for most start looking steadily more attractive as they keep packing on the years. Exceptions abound, especially for those that love their work and are in less physically demanding jobs. But there is usually a world of difference in attitude between age 36 and 56 on this particular topic.

I suppose it’s utterly and simply the ‘generation gap,’ but the most surprising thing for me (mid-50’s) is that the next generation seems pretty unaware (or skeptical) that you were ever their age.

ETA: I had always heard that “it isn’t that older people don’t need as much sleep. It’s that they don’t get as much sleep.”

Yeah. That.

Early 60s, male, retired last year.

I did not expect my near-total withdrawal from popular culture. It seemed to happen without an actual decision and I only became aware of it in certain situations.

Example: I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year and noticed something odd. As I worked my way thru the chronological history exhibit, I moved from the partially familiar artists of the 50s, thru the well known artists of my own era and eventually to a point where I recognized absolutely no one in the exhibits. I had no idea who was in the pictures, and saw only a few recognizable names (mainly from movie soundtracks). At some point I had separated from popular culture so completely I had no idea who these people were.

I’ve noticed a similar occurrence in TV and movies. I can’t seem to generate interest in them. I recently told one of my kids that, not only have I seen every movie that’s ever been made, I’ve seen every movie that ever will be made. There’s nothing new anymore. Every plot, every song, every show, is just another version of the same familiar tales.

I see what you did there.

How fast everything declined. I turned 50 and everything started falling apart. Everything hurts. I look like my grandma. I can’t lose weight. My sex drive hasn’t changed much, but that’s not a good thing because DH’s appears to be gone. And the saddest thing is that I still feel in my mind that I’m 35 but no one can look at me and see that. :woman_shrugging:

I was gobsmacked at how much happier I am now. Sex doesn’t destroy my peace anymore, I have nothing to accomplish or prove to myself or anyone else, and I take pleasure in every lovely thing.

I’m 37. I’m in the worst physical condition of my life which might be expected, but surprisingly, I’m in the best mental condition. I still have depression but when I was younger, a severe depressive episode could knock me out of commission for an entire year. Now it’s just a few days at most. I’ve learned how to catch it and intervene before it spirals out of control. My other mental health conditions have improved as well. I don’t dwell on the past the way I used to.

I think it’s just the experience that comes with age. I’ve had some great therapy in the last few years, which helps a lot.

I’m 48, and what has surprised me is just how gradual it is. I had always thought that it was sort of a punctuated equilibrium kind of thing, where you sort of had little episodes where something declined sort of quickly and obviously, and you noticed it, and went on with life. That’s sort of how hair loss went with me- there was a stretch in my early-mid 30s when a bunch fell out and my hair got thinner, especially in certain spots. And then it calmed down/stopped in large part.

Instead, it’s super-slow. Sometimes you only identify the signs in far hindsight when the current ones are unequivocal enough to realize that yes, that’s been going on for 10 years, but you just assumed it was something else. Like gray hairs- they’ve started showing up, but it seems to be a very slow process- even now, I mostly look like I have shiny hair, not the beginnings of salt & pepper hair. I imagine arthritis will be similar. I’ll look back and say “Yep, those aches and pains were the beginning. You just thought you had overdone things.”

The other thing about aging that has struck me is how your values/goals come into much sharper focus with a few decades of perspective. When I was younger, it was more about (for lack of a better term) fantasy- I wanted to rise in companies and be the CIO or IT head or whatever. Why? Because that was the ultimate goal, and you shoot for the moon. Now that I’m older, I’ve noticed through observation that a lot of those guys work a lot more relative to me, but don’t really make so much more in cash to be worth that, or the other BS that comes along with being in charge. So the goal now becomes to basically maximize salary and minimize the amount of work, in terms of job position. Which seems in IT not to be management, but senior staff. I wouldn’t have considered this career track 20 years ago when I started, but it seems to be where I want to ride out the rest of my career.

I’m an expat in my early fifties. It used to be easy to maintain old friendships and form new ones, even as an expat. But lately it seems… virtually impossible.

It’s a problem that more than a few acquaintances my age have commented that they also have. And yet - ironically - said acquaintances are not motivated to socialize.