„These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.“
Yesterday I shared some very personal thoughts, fears and worries, most of which should be very recognizable to most people of my generation. Today I have the second part of the text for you.
There is a lot that makes me uneasy right now, but the points I discuss today are different from those I shared with you yesterday in as much as these are things that my mother and my grandmother, my father and grandfather grappled with in their own times as well. They are typical fears of someone in their late twenties/early thirties. Sometimes the best advice regarding these fears comes from people that already lived through them.
Be that as it may, the fears are personal, and we all have to live through them on our own terms.
1. Fear of aging
I know this is a very vain fear, and some of you will roll your eyes now. But that’s just the way it is, I can’t say I’m totally relaxed about the prospect of aging. In fact, right now it fills me with dread.
Here’s the thing: right now, at the present moment, I feel I’m at my absolute peak, and I’m afraid it’ll all go downhill from here. Tomorrow the physical deterioration will set in.
I am happy right now, but I do catch myself asking myself the question more and more frequently how I would look with wrinkles, and how I could avoid them. Personally I find myself prettier today than a few years ago, not only because I feel I found myself more, but also because I have the impression that my current age looks good on me. But who knows how long that will last?
The health aspect comes more and more into the foreground as well. It is no longer an option to not do any sports at all, and I am much more careful to not fill my body with junk food. And still, it’s already starting. At times I have little ‘ailments’ that would never have been a big deal a couple of years ago. Headaches turn into migraine attacks, period cramps turn into torture. I have the feeling I’ll be in good shape even when I’m 40 (if my mom is anything to go by). I will have to take good care of myself though, and that’s not necessarily a guarantee either.
As teenager, watching stars and role models I identified with, I often thought to myself: ‘One day I want to look like that too..’.
Today it’s more like: ‘I may never look better than today, ever..’.
A frustrating thought.
It feels like a countdown. The clock is ticking. Tick Tack.
My face is my capital, after all.
That’s a hell of a lot of pressure.
In the end I cannot come up with a satisfying solution, other than giving myself up to the flow of time. Time will tell, and I’ll do my best in the meantime to stay healthy.
2. Fear of failure
We all know it.
There used to be so much time to do something amazing (just what?), but time is running through my fingers these days, and the distance between the present and that future moment from which I will want to look back happily on a life well lived is shrinking. The hamster wheel of daily life is spinning faster and faster, and I barely seem to have time anymore to experience life consciously or to think in the long term.
I hope it will be a long time before I look back on life, but it starts to make sense to think about that moment. I know for myself that I want to make the world a better place, live every day as if it was my last.
We all have a certain responsibility in life, not only for ourselves, also for others and the environment. But we forget in the stress of daily life that one day our children will reap what we sow. I think more and more about what kind of person I would like to be, and what I would like my legacy to be. As my future self, I will want to be able to look myself in the eyes and mean it when I say: ‘I left something good in this world. I can die in peace now.’
But that’s still a long way to go.
3. Fear of loss
I’m reaching an age where I’m more painfully aware that not only I, but also my parents, grandparents and other people I love are getting older.
Small aches turn into serious illnesses, which sometimes signal that there’s an end to life. Problems that seemed so far away are suddenly so close – too close. It is what it is. Life takes its course, sometimes all we can do is accept what comes – and maybe that’s my biggest fear of all.
I’m really scared to see what will be when a family member will one day be in need of care. I am an only child, which makes the thought even scarier for me, to be honest. It gives me the chills, and completely overwhelms me to think of it, to be entirely frank. My mom still takes loving care of me, no matter what happens I know I can count on her. She is always there for me, I can lean on her when I need support. How will it be to experience our roles reversed? Even more terrifying: what will life be like when she’s no longer around?
I believe we all grow with our challenges. It doesn’t make much sense to be afraid of something that cannot be avoided.
I guess the best advice is to enjoy the time we can spend together to the fullest, to try to spend as many hours with loved ones as possible. A quiet voice in my head whispers that this precious time is limited.
Call your parents, tell them you love them, go and visit them.
Who knows how long we will have the luxury to feel like children for a little longer.
Thank you so much Fee-Gloria Groenemeyer for the beautiful pictures!