This past weekend I turned 39. I have one year left of my 30's.
I’m not handling it well.
I’ve never before been bothered by my age or the prospect of getting older. I sailed through the transition from 29 to 30 with ease while some around me seemed to struggle. But recently, the thought of getting older has been infecting my thoughts like some virus from a horror movie. I’m plagued by pictures of me from the recent past that display my darker hair, smaller forehead and a noticeable lack of wrinkles around the eyes. Somehow the younger me appears brighter and more focused.
Of course I am projecting. My reality is not as harsh as it appears to me. At least this is what WonderWife™ tells me, and I’m inclined to believe her since she rarely has anything other than my best interests at heart. But I must admit that it is difficult.
I now understand the compulsion of middle-aged men to buy a flashy new sports car. Something that bright and shiny is meant to make you look cool in a world that doesn’t care if you’re cool. Because the truth is, middle-aged men aren’t cool. Nor should they be.
There are new generations rapidly coming up behind me and I find myself surrounded by a whole lot of people a whole lot younger than me who don’t get my movie references, don’t care about the TV I used to watch and think my music belongs on the oldies station (which, alarmingly it is). It makes me sound ancient to wax poetic about a time before the internet. And while I’m far from yelling at people to get off my lawn, I am no longer a part of the all-important 18-34 demographic that shapes pop culture. As an entertainment junkie, this upsets me.
Again, I know that I’m being dramatic. Life does not end at 40. If my 60-something parents have showed me anything, it’s that there’s a tremendous amount of fun to be wrung out of the latter half of my life. But it can’t be helped that these are the thoughts that bounce around in my brain like super balls as I take my kids to school. These are the seeds of the so-called midlife crisis.
But I’m not going out and getting that sports car, even if I could afford it. I’m not trading in my wife for a younger, dumber model. I will continue to live in my modest house and enjoy my roles as a husband and a father, Because those are good things to be and I do enjoy being them. I will continue to diligently try to carve out my place in this world. I will continue to use my Rogaine, in a misguided effort to stave off inevitable baldness. I will continue to get older, whether I like it or not. And eventually, after a brief period of neurotic gestation followed by some soul searching, I will be okay with it.
But today, I’m struggling just a bit.