People always tell you what to do and prepare for when you’re young, but they never really tell you what’s in store when you grow old. They don’t tell you how drastically your body changes or how you and your friends will grow apart. They don’t prepare you to lose your parents and they certainly don’t say how hard life is going to be.
The people in our stories realized some of these things a little too late and have decided to give you some advice as to what to expect as you age. These are the parts of aging people wish they had been warned about.
40. Nothing Prepares You For Parents Getting Old
That try as you may, you’re never fully prepared for your parents to get older.
Somehow, I still half expect my mom to be able to do certain things and it’s disheartening that she can’t. Even more so, that she lacks the ambition and drive to do much. Mortality is crap, basically.
39. Time Starts to Move Quickly
My great grandma tried to warn me about this. I didn’t understand at that time seeing as I was at my high school graduation party and time seemed endless. She said to me that when you’re young, time seems endless you can think about your day in minutes that pass by. As you age you watch those minutes turn to what feels like seconds, hours will pass like minutes. In your adulthood, you’ll see days pass like seconds on your wristwatch.
I asked her how fast time passed for her; she told me that she felt like she lost months at a time as she daydreamed of her past.
38. Your Parents’ Happiness Matters Most
My parents recently took me to where they have reserved their burial plots. The area is stunningly gorgeous, in the Colorado mountains, but the whole thing made me sad. My dad joked about him and mom spending all of my inheritance money in the next 10-15 years.
I looked at him and said, “Do it.” I want them to enjoy themselves, and that makes me happier than thinking about whatever money/stuff I’ll get when they pass on. Them growing old still hits me in the gut.
37. Health is Wealth
I always overlooked prevention and maintenance because I had “good skin,” or “good metabolism,” or “strong bones,” or “healed quickly.”
Today, I write this with two knee surgeries from playing sports with no care to strengthen or recover, a spine that requires a lot of maintenance to function properly because of years sitting in front of a computer with bad posture, a few chunks taken out of my back because of years of not wearing sunscreen, GI issues from a terrible diet growing up. It pays to eat well, rest and take care of yourself. It took me too long to realize I was my biggest investment.
36. Beauty Fades and People Will Treat You Differently
This may be gender-specific (I’m a woman), but how the perception of your looks changes as you age. In other words, by the mere fact that I am visibly aging at all, past a certain age, I become inherently less attractive. I would say that, up until my mid-20s and maybe a little past that, every year, I seemed to get more attractive. I didn’t really change (I’ve always been pretty trim, with a good body, nice face, nice hair, etc.), but somehow, I “grew into my looks.” I went from being someone who got a lot of attention but mostly bad, to someone who got a lot more attention, good and bad. Then as I went past 30, then 35, then 40, things changed a lot.
This has affected my work. I now work in the same place I did when I was in my 20s (left and came back about 15 years later), and it’s amazing to see how different people, many of them the same people, treat me. When I was young, I often felt like I was the target of a lot of bad attention from the big men in charge. But I also didn’t realize that part of the reason they took me seriously (or acted like it) was because they enjoyed having the attention and the approval of a young, pretty girl. As a woman in my early 40s now, it doesn’t matter that I wear the same dress size, have the same hair color and cut, almost the same face. I am still beautiful, but I’m old beautiful. I find these men take me less seriously than before, even with my big fancy Ph.D., publications, and grants now.
35. Hearing is Challenging
My hearing changed. I was very much warned about it every single time and I only wish I had listened to those people. I spent a decade with earbuds listening to music every day while I worked. Now my hearing is messed up. I struggle discerning specific sounds in a crowded bar, to the point I don’t even try to converse with the people around me.
It will happen to all of you youngins – as you start into your 30’s, you will notice your hearing starts to get a bit more challenging (along with other weird aches and pains that you realize may never totally go away).
34. Moving Made Me Jealous
I chased a “career” in music around my own country then moved to Europe in my early 30’s and stayed for my (now) wife and the lifestyle/opportunities. What I miss the most is that sort of deep friendship that comes from growing into adults together. With the language barrier as well, finding friends you really care about is hard. There are people I hang out with, but it’s not the same.
I see my old friends on social media who never left, still hang out, are still close to their parents, and really know what home is and I’m sometimes jealous.
33. Young Mind, Old Body
I’m 52 now. When I was a teen, I thought there would be a time when I’d think and feel like an adult. It would either be a gradual or a sudden changeover and then BOOM, I’d be an adult. That never happened. There is no alarm or light that goes off and suddenly you’re an adult.
I still feel like the same person, but wiser with broader experiences. Now, my young mind is just trapped in an aging body that keeps getting older and more fragile each year.
32. Importance of Eyesight
I wish someone had warned me about how important our eyes are. I need reading glasses now, but I don’t like to wear them while I eat because they move slightly when I chew and it gives me a headache.
I never see a meal in focus anymore unless I stop eating and put on my glasses to look at it. I wish I could have my younger eyes with no reading glasses.
31. You’ll Change What You Love
After you turn 30, your stomach and gut start to hate whatever your favorite food was, and sleep becomes important.
Getting older is just learning to change what you used to be. As you age, you add new layers to yourself, each layer changing the person you were before, over and over, year after year, like a neverending Babushka Doll of metamorphosis.
30. No Job is Worth Sacrificing
Working yourself into the ground for a job doesn’t even guarantee job security, nevermind better pay. I’ve seen too many people with a “good work ethic” end up with chronic injuries with nothing to show for it.
No job is worth sacrificing your health and well being. Nothing against hard workers, and sometimes it can pay off, but more often than not, it’s just not worth it.
29. You Can Never Reverse Your Health Sins
What you do DOES catch up to you. I drank and smoke cigarettes for years and now my immune system practically doesn’t work.
I’ve quit both, but the damage remains. I can no longer sing due to my throat being inflamed from all the muck coming out of my nose because of the cigarettes. It’s made my nose swell and it now drains down my throat. Seriously kick those things to the curb.
28. Friends Drift Apart
Keeping up with your friends becomes more difficult as you all get older. Everyone starts to grow into their own version of an adult, and sometimes that can lead to fractures in your relationships as interests change and fade over time. Do NOT let this happen to you. I’m only 30, with a toddler and an infant- physically, I might as well be 19, but mentally, I’m closer to 60.
All my friends from my younger years have drifted away at some point in the last decade and now, my entire social life is made up of my wife and kids. I talk to my brother from time to time, but that’s literally it. I don’t have friends, which leads to me not getting out of the house very often, which has crippled my ability to make new friends. Which leads to not doing anything with anyone, which leads to… you get the gist.
27. How Saving Money is Important
I wish someone would have told me how important saving money really is. I’ve always been told that but it wasn’t until I hit my 30’s that I fully understood how much money I’ve wasted over the years.
If I could go back, I’d put at least 6% of my paychecks into my 401K. I know this is boring, but it’s so important.
26. Finding “People That Don’t Suck” is Rare
Finding friends as an adult is really hard. You’re dumped into friends in your youth, because you spend so much time with them in school, for several years. I was never particularly good at it then, but I have a hundred times the social skills now, and it is still really difficult. If your coworkers don’t end up doing friendly things with you, you have to somehow, in between working, sleeping, eating, and managing all of the other problems, go out intentionally to activities, repeatedly, trying to find people that don’t suck who also think you don’t suck, and then hope that becoming friends isn’t off-putting to them. You used to have eight hours a day at school to do this; now you have to cram it into one hour, twice a week.
If you made good, valuable friendships in high school or college, hold onto them the best that you damn well can – because replacing them is a daunting task.
25. Make You or Break You
Your attitude will be the determining factor for whether life will get better because life will get harder.
You can let it strengthen you or beat you; it’s largely your choice.
24. Our Wild Nights Out Are Different
Leaving the house for anything is a chore. Grocery store trips require a list and I want to be in and out as soon as possible.
We prefer takeout over dining in, and an occasional movie (the late, late show to avoid children) is our “wild” night out.
23. Trust Your Parents
Starting to realize that your parents were right about so many things you fought them on growing up. And realizing how many ways you are turning into them.
Oh wait, they did tell me, “Someday you’ll understand” or “Someday you’ll thank me!”
22. You Can See Light Inside You
That when all else seems dark and hopeless and you have been to the point where you don’t think you can go on, you have it somewhere deep inside you to find the light in the darkness. That you can put on the light and create happiness and joy with it. That we as humans are so powerful in our minds that we can turn even the ugliest of events or nastiest of feelings into blissful moments of learning.
Never is it over; it is only the start of something new and better. No one ever told me this, but I found it out myself.
21. Everything is Nostalgic
That you will be nostalgic for even the tiniest parts of your life.
You can’t recreate what you had, even if it wasn’t that much; those parts of your life are over.
20. Memories Will Fade Away
The hype of becoming an adult (turning 18) isn’t really that great. It gets more stressful and you are expected to be more responsible.
Also, realizing that you spend a lifetime gathering experience, skills, knowledge, and memories, only to have it all fade away as you get older and your memory decays (or worse, you develop dementia), and to finally be lost altogether when you die, is rather sad.
19. Energy Start to Decline
Your energy will decline as you age. When you’re 21, you’re able to go out on Friday night till sunrise, then do it again the same evening until Sunday morning and be fine on Monday. That energy is never coming back.
Be glad if you have 50% of that left in your late 30’s. Oh, and the 16-year-old kid next door will call you “sir.”
18. It’s Tough, But Worth It
For women (maybe men to a certain degree too), you will notice towards your late 40s that you start to become more and more invisible to the opposite gender. You will likely get less attention than you got in your teens, 20s, and even 30s.
Most of the time, I don’t mind, but sometimes it crushes your soul a tiny bit. But then I turned 50. It’s a magical number. You really start to care less and less about how attractive you are to others. Or care about what they think. You realize how smart you are, how much you’ve learned in life, how well you treat others. And hopefully, you put all that knowledge to good work. Getting older is tough, but there are some pretty great aspects too.
17. Dental Care is Important
Nobody warned me that I should take good care of my teeth.
Take care of your teeth because it’s painful and expensive work if you need your whole mouth worked on just because you didn’t brush your teeth twice a day.
16. Painful Sports Aren’t Worth It
The part where hurting yourself as a kid can have long term negative side effects. I played football in high school only, had four concussions at least and busted both of my shoulders. Now in my late 20s, I get migraines and the doctors said I have the shoulders you would find on an 80 to a 90-year-old man.
By my mid to late 30s, they said I would need a shoulder replacement on both arms, ideally. If I knew that when I was 14, I would’ve done the theatre or math club or anything that didn’t involve physical pain. I can barely sleep now because of the pain. I’d rather know how to act and sleep instead of saying I played football- it was a waste of time and now it negatively affects me every day. Every. Day.
15. Entrepreneurship is The Key
I wish someone would’ve explained to me how the school system is crap and that I should’ve been an entrepreneur from an early age. I wish I was told that I need to make my own money rather than have a job and be at the mercy of my employer in order to make an actual living when I “adulted.”
No one did and now I’m finding that out on my own which sucks because I feel like I have a late start “in the game,” being almost 30.
14. The Silent Shame of Age
One of my scarier moments was the time I realized I was now stronger than my dad. We were moving some furniture and he took the heavier end out of habit. He couldn’t lift it all that well, so we switched sides after a few yards and I found I could lift that end just fine.
We both knew what happened, but we never spoke about it. The silent shame of age.
13. You’re Still the Young You
I wish someone warned me that your brain doesn’t necessarily understand your chronological age.
It still thinks you’re 18. So you go to do something your brain says you’ve always been able to do, like lifting something heavy, but this time, you end up hurting yourself.
12. Life Just Keeps on Going
That “major” life milestones really aren’t that important. Nothing will change after your first kiss, graduation, turning 18, getting beat with jumper cables, or turning 21.
Life just keeps on going and events that aren’t your death don’t really impact you as much as you believed they would.
11. Skin Care is Still a Problem
That there would be a hair that would randomly grow on your chin or neck. One day, you see this big black hair and try and brush it off. ‘Oh’ you think, ‘It’s stuck,’ so you try and pull it off, then you realize its GROWING OUT OF YOU! From then on, it’s all downhill. Every day you pull out half a dozen with tweezers, sometimes the resulting pores get infected and you end up with spots like a teenager.
Then there are the ones that are not quite long enough to tweeze and are just below the skin. And then you end up gouging a small hole in your face just to get it out, which then scabs over. It really sucks.
10. Just Can’t Hold It
Some of us females start peeing our pants around 40, no joke. I don’t even have kids and my friends and I are horrified. If we get a coughing fit, it’s Russian roulette. Now I know why old people smell like pee.
Also, I was prepared for my hair to go white, but I wasn’t prepared for my eyebrows to turn grey as well. I’m Asian with black hair- I need my eyebrows.
9. Life is All About YOU
At some point, you start to question all your life’s decisions, whether good or bad and there will never be anyone to tell you whether you’re doing things right or not; it’s all on you. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s reassuring in some ways, but mostly deeply unsettling.
And on top of it all, time just keeps marching on regardless, so you have to keep moving on with all the doubt and uncertainty in tow.
8. Spend Time with Your Loved Ones
Nobody warned me how important it is to spend time with your relatives.
Those fun uncles and aunts you have? One day, they aren’t going to be here anymore. And that’s the day you’ll realize you’re that older generation now. And you are next.
7. We Should Take Love Seriously
When I was younger, I used to think sleeping with a fair number of women was normal or even good. Now, I realize it’s just the result of failed relationships piling up along with the years. It is not a bad thing to commit early if you really do fall in love, and it’s worth being brave to do it.
If I could go back and change only one thing, it would be my self-awareness in this regard.
6. Adulting Isn’t Always About Happiness
I wish someone had told me how sad everyone is. As a kid, I always thought adults were happy and content with their lives.
When I grew up, I realized everyone was just pretending, managing and settling and not living the life that they wanted to live.
5. Stay Limber
I’m only 28, but I wish someone would have said how important it is to stay limber. Just bending over in the morning, I am so tight and stiff.
Thank god it doesn’t hurt badly, yet, but I know that it’s right around the corner. I’m trying to get into yoga and stretch every night before bed.
4. Everything is a Trial and Error
There is no such thing as an “adult,” you just grow older, people expect more of you, and you do your best to make things work.
When you are old enough to say “when I grow up…” that is as “grown up” as your ever gonna be; the rest is a trial, error, and hard work.
3. We Should All Walk Properly
My sister refused to listen to my parents telling her to walk properly when she was a kid; she walked on the side of her feet all the time and sat cross-legged. She also wouldn’t do shoes up properly and just used to trod the backs down and shuffled everywhere. She refused to wear sensible shoes in her teens and teetered everywhere in heels. Our family has issues with bunions and rotated toe joints, but a lot of it was down to her laziness and refusal to put effort into correcting the problem.
She now has chronic foot and knee pain, that is slowly spreading to her hips and back, where everything is misaligned and just keeps getting worse. She’s 22.
2. In the Blink of an Eye
Summers felt like they lasted forever when I was a kid. As an adult, sitting at work all day, I feel like I blink and it’s over.
Also, if time is moving this fast at 24, how much more when I get older. Now I know how my parents feel. Everything blends together after a while.
1. Grocery Lessons
This is more about “growing up,” but I definitely took my mom doing the grocery shopping for granted. It took me a while to learn how much of each thing I needed to get, what sort of stuff to keep on hand, and what things are still okay even if the “sell by” date is long gone.
I wish my mom had given me lessons on how she did it.