Learning to get older
While browsing my RSS feeds, I encountered this blog post talking about why we're not prepared to getting old. Somehow I empathise a lot with the author as I'm closing my 35 year on this earth.
Some nights ago, I talked a bit on Mastodon about getting old and gay sexuality. My mind damaged by Twitter (nope not calling this X), I got old surrounded by some narrative that the gay sexuality only happens between 18 years old and 30. Thirty was kind of a "gay expiration date", after that you were branded an "old pervert" or anything similar, an expressing any thought about sexuality was deemed creepy.
Somehow on Mastodon I was able to find others 30 years old (and plus) like me and found a space much more safe, open and kind. A safe where you slowly realise that you could get old without having to sense a feeling of shame, of creepiness.
I remember when I came out, my first questions where about getting older and gay. Would it be possible for me to lead a happy life? Would it be possible to find a guy that I love and that loves me? Would I be able to build a home, a family?
All those questions were swirling in my mind in a place where I even had to discover that gay people existed. Our elders were taken massively by the AIDS epidemic, and I had to wait until I was 25 years old to finally encounter a gay couple in their sixties and to get my answers.
We're never taught how to get older, it's a path we discover a bit each day, either through happy encounters or talks or to aching knees (pick any area of your body that suddenly decided to retire way too early). It took me quite some time to be able not to fear anymore getting old. I think this fear finally went away around my 32 years old birthday, when I let go of my (roaring) twenties and accepted that I won't ever get younger.
It was also soothed by the magic of meeting other people around my age not in a judgmental mindset, to get away from the youth and its black and white mentality. The time to realise how toxic the discussions around age where inside the Twitter's gay microcosm and how much I needed an escape.
Slowly reaching the end of this 35 year on earth, I must say I'm grateful for a lot of things. While parts of my body seems to think it's already time to retire (hello knees and feet!), I'm getting married in two weeks and I'm surrounded by people that I really care about. And while I lost some along the way, I know that they would be happy about the path I'm taking now and the decisions I made.
Getting old is a lesson you have to learn alone. No books or discussion will ever teach you how to do it, as it's something your mind has to learn on its own. Surround yourself with people around your age, exchange, see older people. Realise that the fear of getting old is just that, a fear. No age will ever mark you as useless or unworthy. No-one and nothings has this power except your own mind. Don't be your worst enemy.