Gay culture tends to be youth obsessed. I mean, when was the last time we saw someone over 30 on the cover of a gay magazine? We seem to fear age and the process of getting older. Since ageing is inevitable, maybe it’s time we learn to accept, and hey even embrace it? After all, what choice do we really have?
I recently turned 34. Which means I’m officially ‘getting older’. And you know what? I genuinely feel happier, more settled and more at peace now, than I ever have in my life.
I’m not super-rich, super-hot or super-anything really. My life is going (relatively) well because I’ve worked hard, and I continue to work hard to shape the things in life that I have some control over. But I also realise more clearly than ever, that I have to accept the things that I have no control over in my life, which tends to be the majority of things.
But since when can older people be happy? That just doesn’t happen right? I’m not denying the first signs of wrinkles, grey hair and other bodily changes I’m experiencing, I’m actually kind-of, sort-of not hating these changes happening as much as I had feared I would.
As I’m getting older, I’m realising that almost through no fault or intention of my own, I’m becoming more accepting of who I am, the choices I make and where I am in my life. As a natural by-product, I’m actually becoming happier! As a point of comparison, I think I’m actually happier now than in my 20s, when I was wrinkle-free, had a full head of thick hair and could fit into size 34 jeans (without muffin topping).
Legally, I’ve now been an adult for 16 years. That’s quite a long time to get used to yourself. It’s this ‘getting used to myself-ness’ that I think has slowly and over time morphed into self-acceptance, and ultimately happiness. For me, this wasn’t a conscious decision. I just think that over time, time does wear you down. I mean, how many years can you be stressed about a nose that’s too big, crooked teeth, or whatever it is that you think is less than perfect about your appearance? After a (long) time, it gets tiring. It’s easier to just accept it. Sure it might not be perfect, but it gives you a chance to move on.
I think it’s important that as GenX-ers transition into our 30s and beyond, we still create spaces for ourselves, and yes our ‘gay’ selves to exist. What maybe made us happy before, and where we focus our energies now in life is different. Sure, maybe these days I get as much pleasure from scrolling through the Bunnings catalogue as I do from flicking through the social scene galleries on SameSame, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe the gay scene could be made more open to different types of activities, other than just going out and clubbing?
As a society, we tend to discard the old. But there is so much value in what can be learned from ‘older’ people. For instance, did you know that in the 1990s, pop music was actually good? You could listen to it for hours on end, undistracted by social media and devices that seem to now, extend like natural appendages from our bodies.
Getting older can be a gateway to a lot of amazing things. More self acceptance, career success, less drama….Let’s make an effort to focus more on these aspects of ageing in a positive and supportive way. After all, we’re all going to get old one day!