Five Things Nobody Told Me About the Aging Process

Decades worth of stand up comedians have taught me a few things about getting older. You get fat. Your hair migrates from the top of your head to your back to your ass. That grunting noise you make when you stand up. I’m only 32 – hardly on my way to the grave yet – but already I feel like there are things happening to me as part of the aging process that no one warned me about.

5) You become reverse Wolverine

Wolverine from X-Men’s signature power is for superficial wounds to heal completely in a matter of seconds (also, retractable claws for some reason). It’s a well known fact that a person’s ability to heal from injuries is greatest in youth, and that process slows down as you age. But as I’ve gotten older, I’m shocked at how many petty injuries just seem to take FOREVER to heal – and here’s the kicker – some don’t seem to heal at all.

A couple months ago I hurt my shoulder doing bench presses the wrong way. I pull muscles at the gym all the time; I figured I’d lay off the heavy lifting for a couple weeks and everything would be fine and dandy. Next time I got on the bench, the pain was still there. And it’s still there today, and I’ve had to completely abandon certain exercises because of it. I haven’t been to a doctor but I wouldn’t be surprised if surgery is needed to fix it.

When exactly did my body’s healing process turn off “heal all injuries” mode? And how come little scrapes on my arms that scab over take several weeks to totally heal instead of the couple of days I remember?

4) Night time is sleepy time only

This one isn’t necessarily biological, and it’s also sort of a no-brainer, but I’m mentioning it because it’s something I didn’t expect to happen to me this early. My ability to stay awake into the wee hours of the morning and sleep in till the afternoon is pretty much completely shot.

It’s all work’s fault. As most people gain more work experience they tend to wind up in jobs that have consistent, predictable daytime schedules instead of the erratic, later shifts of retail and food service jobs. After a few years of working a 9-5 (which is, in reality, more often an 8-5 or 7-4 kind of thing), your body adapts to that sleeping schedule and the two weekend days aren’t enough to alter it. So no matter what you do to compensate, your body’s internal wiring is doing everything in its power to make your eyelids start to get heavy around 9 or 10pm, and you can bet you’re gonna be waking up roughly around when your alarm clock is normally set, even if you managed to stay up late into the night.

This does not bode well for partying. Alcohol acts like an industrial sedative to me as it is; when I have to contend with a sleep clock that’s been honed to my work schedule for the last 10 years, I’m fighting an uphill battle.

3) Your skin gets weird

It’s bullshit that you have to spend so many of your most vulnerable, insecure years battling with crappy skin. But once you pass adolescence, and the acne thing is mostly under control (although never entirely), it should be smooth sailing right?

Wrong! You get to experience all new skin adventures! Have freckly skin? Get ready to develop new, larger skin spots out of nowhere. Oily skin? Hope you’re stocked up on lotion because it’ll fluctuate between oily and painfully dry as the seasons change! And why are there now purple rings around my eyes?

And there’s more. Skin cancer. Random dry spots. Random red spots. Cysts that spring up out of nowhere and never go away. It’s like your skin is rejecting your body. At this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if I start to look like Immortan Joe at the beginning of Mad Max Fury Road.

2) Your face changes

I always thought it was funny in movies when a character was portrayed as a child and as a young adult, they’d use two actors who shared almost no resemblance, and we all accepted it because we assume our looks change drastically from youth to adulthood. But look at Jake Lloyd, who played 10 year old Anakin Skywalker in Episode 1, today. He looks… pretty much like a big version of that kid, not like Hayden Christiansen. Yet, if an adult character is to age another 15 or 20 years, the approach is usually to use the same actor and add a couple of gray streaks in the hair and a wrinkle or two.

But the reality is, the way your real face changes in adulthood is nearly as drastic as how it changes in youth (excepting the Tom Cruises of the world). I liked my face at 20. I went through life confident that the face cameras and other people saw was the same as the one I saw in the mirror. Today, that’s not as true. When I look in the mirror I see the face I’m used to, but for some reason when I see photographs, I notice all the changes. The jawline seen from the front is no longer angular, but a smooth arc from ear to chin to ear. The eye sockets are sunken. The forehead protrudes. My face overall is just longer than I remember.

This isn’t a body dysmorphia thing. I don’t think I’m the Elephant Man or anything. But I used to think that once I was fully grown the general structure of my face was pretty much set, and all that would change was the skin and hair on top. Imagine the surprise!

1) Time becomes your enemy

This is the one I really wish somebody had warned me about. Perhaps someone did, and I didn’t listen, or forgot. But for every year you age, your own perception of time speeds up. This is likely a combination of being more busy in general the older you get (time tends to fly when you’re busy), having fewer novel experiences, and simply getting used to the length of hours, days, and years. Knowing the reason it happens doesn’t make it any less terrifying.

The thing that usually reminds me of this eternal terror is when I start considering how long ago the pop cultural landmarks I remember happened. I saw The Dark Knight in theaters 8 years ago. It’s been 13 years since The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King swept the Oscars, which I watched live. Green Day’s American Idiot, an album I remember driving myself to the store to purchase at midnight, like it happened 5 or 6 years ago, was actually 12 years ago now. On that note, it’s been longer from that album to today than it was from Dookie, which came out when I was in 6th grade, to American Idiot. Horror.

And that’s not even taking into account personal events. Vacations, relationships, jobs, successes, tragedies… things that feel as if they couldn’t be more than a handful of years ago, turn out to be much farther in the past than you realized. I’ve literally gone through old photos on my computer and assumed that the date stamp was somehow wrong, because how could that be?

And the thing is, you still remember when a year felt like a long period of time. So when another Christmas or Halloween rolls around, and you feel like you just got done with the previous one, you think back to a time when the wait for the holidays felt interminable1, and it was that much sweeter and more satisfying when they got there. I don’t need to tell anybody how much I love Halloween, but in the past couple of years it’s started to feel startling when signs of it start appearing. To me, it feels like I just shoved the boxes into the attic, and now I’m pulling them back down.

I could go on, but this is already depressing enough, and everyone older than me that’s reading this is probably getting angry by now. To bring it back to a positive note, time may feel like your enemy as you get older, but you don’t have to give in to that enemy. It’s a battle you fight every moment that you’re conscious. The way to win that battle is not to race towards the end of your life, as we’re all tempted to do. We’re always focused on getting to the next thing. The next end of your work shift, the next weekend, the next vacation, the next party, the next promotion. We fixate so much on racing to the next carrot dangling in front of us that before we know it, we’re officially elderly. And you’ll look back on age 32 and it will feel less like 40 years ago and more like 10.

Appreciate the mere significance of being alive, being conscious, and being generally comfortable and safe, if you’re fortunate enough for that to be your reality. Every hour you spend resenting your station is an hour you’ll really wish you had back some day. professional essay writing services uk

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