Hold on to 16…
October 12, 2010
This person here, makes my life far easier than I care to admit. She is amazingly conscientious and helpful. She offers to take bags, and open doors. She is fiercely independent and rarely needs help, but always offers it. When she was very little, I used to tell her to relax. I would remind her that she had a responsible mother. That she could actually BE four years old. I had it covered.
I don’t think she ever believed me. She’s always wanted to be bigger than she was at that moment. She embraces what is ahead. When her half birthday rolls around, she seizes the opportunity to introduce herself as almost the next age. So, now she is “almost 16”. “How old are you?” “Almost 16.” “So you are 15.” “NO, almost 16.” she’ll say with a smile.
I had a birthday last week. An old friend from high school sent me a note on Facebook and reminded me about a John Cougar Melencamp song that use to make me cry, Jack and Diane…”Hold on to 16 as long as you can, change will come around soon and make us women and men.”. Oh how I feared getting older. Oh how I feared what might await me.
I cried on my 17th birthday. I thought I was old. I thought everything would be downhill from 16. I then cried on my 18th for the same reason. 19 too. Somewhere along the line, I came around. On my 40th birthday (five years ago), the tears I cried watching the sun come up on a beach that morning were of pure gratitude and anticipation. And such a surprise! No one sings about sweet 45. No movies are made about how great it is to age. I think it’s a shame, I am far happier at 45 than 15,25 or 35.
I was thinking about this, about why our society idolizes youth, and middle age is drudgery, and all I could think of is this… that people aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing. They might have jobs they don’t like or stopped being creative. They have bought into the idea of doing “what they are supposed to do” verses “what makes their heart sing”.
So, what do I tell my daughters? Be your best self at any age. And the older you are, the more power you have over your own circumstances! It is you who co-creates your reality, that you alone are charge of how you feel and react in a given moment. And it is wonderful! I might tell this to my 12-year-old and my 4-year-old, but the truth is I don’t need to tell this almost 16-year-old, she was born far more fearless than I.