Here's the Thing About Getting Older

By , Shelli Mosteller
I don’t know why it feels like such an accomplishment to have stayed alive for half a century, but it does. It really, really does. Recently I hit that milestone 5-0 and with it came a lot of excitement and a lot of reflection. Honestly, it feels like a second adolescence, mercifully minus the angst and acne. Kids practically grown, years of wisdom under my belt, new stage of life—no wonder the people in the AARP commercials are always smiling.

First off, let me just say I don’t think 50 is old. I find age to be subjective. I know some 20-year-olds that act like they’re 85 and vice versa. Currently, I base any age-related issues on my dad. He’s 77 and just went back to grad school because, why not? It seemed like the right thing to do and there's always more to learn. He also walks a couple of miles a day and regularly does pushups. The lesson? Seventy-seven, not old. I watch him and follow his lead.

Much of how an individual handles aging seems to come down to attitude and priorities. As I neared the turning of another decade, I asked myself, “How do I want to age? Kicking and screaming? Gracefully? Call it quits and give up? Or do I try something else entirely?” I’ve seen people go kicking and screaming. It isn’t pretty. Grace has never been my strong suit, so I can’t see myself starting now. Quit and give up seems like a terrible option, which leaves me with something else entirely.

For now, my "something else" is working to embrace each stage as it comes, accept what I can and can’t do, and move on to trying new things. This positive, yet realistic attitude seems to work for my dad. It's been important to recognize that there really are some things I can’t do anymore. I have a wonky disc in my neck, so I have to be careful with exercise and my day-to-day activities. No running, heavy lifting or roller coasters for me anymore. But here's the thing: Who cares? I hate running and the last time my husband and I rode the tea cups at Disney World, we thought our heads were going to explode. So what if I can’t skydive and run marathons? Big deal. It's not the end of the world.

The key is embracing the other things that I can do, all those new things that I still have yet to try. For all we know, our next passion or new hobby could be hiding right in plain sight. Plus, experimenting with new activities or mastering a new skill is a wonderful way to feel young again. Lately, I've been taking online hula hoop classes. It's fun exercise and my head never feels like it's going to explode.

My priorities have shifted, as well. Fifteen to 20 years ago, my primary goal was to look good naked. I don’t know why this seemed so terribly important at the time, but it did. Thankfully, I don't put that kind of pressure on myself these days. My husband and I can’t see each other clearly unless we’re wearing our trifocals anyway, so it doesn’t matter as much. I know lots of women my age (and older) still look great in their original birthday suits. Some of them are competing as bodybuilders or running marathons. Good for them! Everyone’s priorities and goals are different, as they should be. Holding ourselves to other people's expectations is the quickest road to feelings of disappointment, frustration and failure.

For the moment, I’m more interested in challenging myself to grow creatively as an artist than worrying about what I see in the mirror. I work on building a life that is healthy for my mind, body and soul, which keeps me plenty busy. I’m guessing it can keep me occupied for the next 50 years, right?

How have your goals changed as you've gotten older?

About the Author

Shelli Mosteller (MOSTMOM1) has been a SparkPeople member since 2010 and currently resides in just outside of Cincinnati. On her journey to weight loss, she's experienced all the highs and lows, but always manages to find the silver lining. She loves interacting with the SparkPeople Community, which she finds is full of encouraging, motivating, positive people. Married with two young adult children plus Chubbs the Immortal Guinea Pig and Bubba the English Bulldog, Shelli also works full-time as a creative arts pastor for her church.

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