Culture

Don't Be Afraid Of Getting Older. It's An Incredible Blessing, Not A Curse

By Rebecca Hope··  7 min read
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Society worships youth. It’s shown in the advertisements we watch, the pressure on women to freeze their 20-something faces with Botox, and the fake “alpha males” on Twitter who shout about women losing their worth as they age.

Both men and women feel incredible pressure throughout their 20s, even more so as they get closer to the big 3-0. All this focus on youth takes the fun out of aging. But, as you get closer to 30, you’ll notice a few things – you experience less FOMO, care less what people think, and gain greater respect for yourself.

Still, that doesn’t stop the anxiety that comes for many as they approach milestone ages. But growing older isn’t a curse, it’s an incredible blessing. Here’s why.

Not Everyone Makes It to 30

The harsh reality of life is not everyone makes it to 20, 30, 50, or 90. There are far too many young girls and boys who don’t make it to their 20s. So many incredible people desperately want to make it to their 30s but don’t. These are people like 27-year-old Holly Butcher who died of Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, in 2018. Before her death, she penned a powerful message on Facebook about the fragility of life.

Holly didn’t make it to 30 years old – an age so many men and women seem to fear. In her letter, she writes how she longs for just one more birthday. She acknowledges how every day is a gift, revealing that it’s such an incredible privilege and a blessing to grow older. It’s certainly scary, especially if you haven’t achieved all those things you promised yourself you would, but it’s a much greater loss to not have the opportunity to grow old at all.

“Have the guts to change. You don’t know how much time you’ve got on this earth so don’t waste it being miserable.”

She writes about the future she imagined for herself. How she saw herself growing old, gray, and wrinkled, “most likely caused by the beautiful family” she planned on having with the love of her life, and how she wants that so bad it hurts. It’s peculiar that so many of us fuss over the first gray hair we find or the first fine line that starts turning into a wrinkle, especially when people like Holly would’ve loved nothing more than to experience growing old. Who’d have thought that turning gray could be seen as such an honor for some?

“Death Is Inevitable”

Claire Wineland was an American activist, author, TEDx Speaker, and social media personality, who died of cystic fibrosis at the age of 21 in 2018. During interviews and live events, audiences were captivated by her enthusiasm for life and the sheer gratitude she had for every day.

In the YouTube documentary Meet Claire, Finding Beauty in the Sadness, her mother details how every moment was a celebration for Claire. “Claire, as a little girl, was always really grateful for every single thing she did. So she was always [saying] ‘I’m so lucky to be going to kindergarten. I’m so excited we’re going to first grade’ because everything, you know, was a milestone for her.” Claire had an attitude toward life that we all would do well to adopt, often telling audiences “Death is inevitable. Living a life you are proud of is something you can control.”

For people such as Claire and Holly – individuals who know they have a terminal illness and may not be around next year – there is one thing they don’t have to worry about… the future. Thinking about the future can be anxiety-inducing. In fact, when you Google the words “I’m worried,” one of the first suggestions to come up is “I’m worried about my future,” which clearly shows how many people share this concern. 

“Death is inevitable. Living a life you are proud of is something you can control.”

It’s even more anxiety-inducing when you haven’t worked out your five-year plan. Or maybe you have worked out your five-year plan, but you can’t muster the motivation or courage to get out there and do it. However, to actually be alive and have a future already makes you far better off than so many others who have been given a matter of years to live, so celebrate it. You’re still here which provides so many possibilities for your life. All you need to do is take advantage of it.

Inspiring Quotes from Holly and Claire

Death can be a very taboo topic and is something so many of us rarely spend time thinking about, but acknowledging the fragility of life is incredibly important to truly live a life you love. I’ve gathered a few quotes from Holly and Claire that I think really encapsulate what it means to live a meaningful life.

Holly Butcher’s Quotes

  1. That’s the thing about life. It is fragile, precious, and unpredictable, and each day is a gift, not a given right.

  2. Remember if something is making you miserable, you do have the power to change it – in work or love or whatever it may be. Have the guts to change. You don’t know how much time you’ve got on this earth so don’t waste it being miserable.

  3. Stop worrying so much about the small, meaningless stresses in life and try to remember that we all have the same fate after it all, so do what you can to make your time feel worthy and great, minus the bullsh*t.

  4. Travel if it’s your desire, don’t if it’s not. 

  5. Seriously, do what makes your heart happy.

Claire Wineland’s Quotes

  1. Death is inevitable. Living a life you are proud of is something you can control.

  2. You’re never gonna be happy with what you get unless you’re happy with what you have.

  3. You have to look at all of [your life]. All of the pain, all of the loneliness, all of the beauty, all of the friendship, and the sickness and the health. And you have to lay it all in front of you and you have to say, “okay, this is what I have, it’s all wonderful and what can I make with it?” 

  4. I think the biggest thing that we’re not taught in our world is that capability and being able to give something of value to the world is really what the human journey is all about.

  5. Death is actually not a scary thing. The scary thing is living life without a passion and then realizing at the very last moment that it’s over and you haven’t done what you wanted to do – and that you’re not proud of your life. That is much more terrifying.

Closing Thoughts

It would be incredibly difficult to read Holly’s message or watch Claire’s documentary and not be moved and inspired to live a life you’re proud of. However, life is hectic and their messages can be easily forgotten once you close this article. So, take your favorite quotes from their messages, grab a pen and post-it notes, and stick them on your mirror. Better yet, set reminders with their best quotes on your phone and schedule them for dates in the future – it might be just what you need to hear at that moment.

At the age you are right now, so many young people have not made it to. Lots of women, like Holly, imagined marrying the love of their lives, but so many won’t have the opportunity to meet him. Whatever age you are, at least you’re still in the game – and that’s an incredible privilege. 

On your next birthday, remember, growing older isn’t a curse, it’s a beautiful blessing. And as Holly wrote, “Seriously, do what makes your heart feel happy.”

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