A few nights ago, Kevin and I had some new friends from church over to play games. They’re younger than us but also our contemporaries in the sense that they’re a married couple with jobs. We had a great time, but things got a little weird when we started talking about where we were on September 11, 2001. I was starting my second year at my first post-college job; they were in fifth grade.
I felt old.
Maybe it’s because I’m past my mid-30s now and careening toward my next decade, but I’ve been thinking a lot about getting older. Most of the things we associate with aging — wrinkles, slowing metabolisms, ticking biological clocks — aren’t good. This can make celebrating another birthday seem like a bit of a tragedy. But it shouldn’t be.
Whether you’re in your early 20s, or a decade (or two) past that, consider these reasons getting older is the way to go (as if you had a choice!):
1. You’re more comfortable in your own skin.
When I was approaching my 30s, a friend who was about four years older than me said, “I’ve loved my 30s. I finally began to feel comfortable with who I am.” She was right! I’ve discovered that as I get older (and more mature), I feel more confident in who I am and have an easier time letting go of who I’m not. I also care less about what others think about me.
2. You have “old friends.”
Think of the relationships you had in high school versus the friendships you maintain today. There’s something heartening and life-giving about having a friend who has known you for a long time. Even going to the same hairstylist for half a decade or being a regular at the same coffee shop has proven psychological benefits.
3. You can relate to more people.
No longer defined as a youth, I’ve found that I can confidently navigate conversations with those of all age groups and life stages. I’m comfortable with the gray-hairs in the room, but I can also play “older sister” to 20-somethings.
4. You’ve had more life experiences.
The longer I live, the more experiences I have in common with others, which makes life richer. A new acquaintance tells me about the time they went to New York City, and I can say, “Oh, I’ve been there too!” and share my own stories. A collection of life experiences is one of the best things about getting older. It also provides hope that some of the best experiences are yet to come.
5. You’re more connected.
In the 20 years since I started college, my network has exploded. I love having “small world” experiences, meeting friends of friends, and knowing someone in almost every imaginable field (or at least how to find someone).
6. You get to be the expert sometimes.
My husband (who is nearing 30) recently started a new job. He told me, “This is the first job I’ve ever had where I feel like I’m coming in as an expert.” He wasn’t saying he knows it all, only that his years in the field have given him valuable knowledge that he brings to the table in his new position. Sometimes it’s fun to be the one who knows what you’re talking about.
7. You have more resources.
Though this is not always true, for the most part, as you get older you accrue more wealth and belongings. Instead of living off of Top Ramen in a one-bedroom apartment, you may be able to afford to cook quality food in your own home. These resources can provide greater opportunities for giving, saving, serving and enjoying life.
8. You’re better at “adulting.”
A friend of mine says that when she was in her early 20s, she would come home from work, do an exercise video, eat a bowl of ice cream and go to bed. While that routine may hold a certain appeal (especially the ice cream), I’ve found that my quality of life seems to rise as I master “adult” skills, such as managing my home, budgeting and taking care of myself.
9. You make fewer foolish mistakes.
Proverbs 22:15 says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” As I’ve experienced God’s discipline in my life, I’ve grown up in a lot of ways. Spiritual maturity actually protects me as I seek to depend on the Holy Spirit as I make decisions rather than operating out of my own sin and issues. While I’m far from perfect, I find that I don’t make the same “rookie mistakes” I did when I was younger.
10. You recognize your own mortality.
Psalm 90:12 contains an important truth: “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” This wisdom flows out of our realization that we will not live forever. Each of us has been put on this earth for a specific number of days that only God knows. As my eyesight gets a little worse and I notice the crow’s feet around my eyes, I am all too aware that my body won’t last forever. This reminds me to prioritize what matters the most each day.
11. Being old is awesome.
Contrary to what our beauty- and youth-obsessed culture tells us, aging is sacred and old age is glorious. Consider the words of Proverbs 16:31, which say, “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” Actually the Bible mentions lots of “perks” of being older, such as wisdom and understanding (Job 12:12).
Eleanor Roosevelt said: “Today is the oldest you’ve ever been, and the youngest you’ll ever be again.” While that truth can be a little unsettling, remember that every day you have on this earth gets you one day closer to seeing Jesus face-to-face. That means your best days are definitely yet to come.