The Orion

Aging should inspire growth, resilience — not terror

Allison Galbreath

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Illustration by Darian Maroney

It’s ironic that people are both simultaneously afraid of dying and afraid of getting older.

Think about this for a minute.

Afraid of death. But afraid of getting older.

One would think that in a society so terrified of dying, it would celebrate the elderly and prize older generations. But that’s not the case.

It’s because getting older actually reminds people that they are going to die one day.

And so, media constantly picks on celebrities for their wrinkles or gray hair or tired appearance.

Because of this, people spend thousands of dollars trying to reverse aging with skin cream and hair dye and surgery to reduce this or get rid of that.

Think of the convention “never ask a woman her age.” This might seem respectful, but in reality it is actually pretty twisted.

This convention is in place because a woman’s purpose, according to society, is to have and raise children.

And once a woman’s years of fertility have passed, once their children have grown, well, their purpose of living has gone … right?

Wrong.

Having children is not one’s only reason to live. Nor is it every person’s aspiration or goal in life.

Age simply symbolizes experiences and life.

It symbolizes change and hope for the future.

It represents all of someone’s trials, missteps and failures.

But also their accomplishments, perseverance and second chances.

And it’s a connection to the past.

Sure, there are books and videos. But the elderly are a direct, living link to the past. They have lived and experienced the world in a way younger generations haven’t.

They’ve experienced the world changing. They’ve lived through and adapted to the many ways in which the world has changed.

Is it so terrible to admit how many years of life — how many experiences someone has had?

Society should celebrate getting older instead of fear it.

Not to be too morbid, but there are plenty of other ways a person could die than just by growing old. And honestly, I’d feel lucky if that’s the way I went.

So many people’s deaths are out of their control. They die young, never get to grow old and have the possibilities and life experiences many others are blessed with.

And I’d bet anything that most of those people that die far too young would rather live and grow older than never have the number of chances in life and the amount of possible experiences that they could get otherwise.

Think of it this way: Birthdays are a celebration for a reason.

Everyone should think of age the same way. Like someone saying, “Congratulations! You made it another year. You are still here. You are still fighting.”

Allison Galbreath can be reached at [email protected] or @agalbreath19 on twitter.

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Aging should inspire growth, resilience — not terror