I have a theory.
I believe that pop culture and the media’s obsession with youth isn’t because we’re a youth-obsessed culture.
It’s because getting older is awesome — older people don’t need constant positive reinforcement.
You see patterns as you get older. Things that seemed so new to the young you now feel natural. You feel more confident in your own skin. You realize that every year that passes is another year of successful living.
So, when television, movies, and music don’t look or sound like you, you’re okay with it because you’re awesome.
You know it, and here’s how.
You stop repeating the same mistakes.
Those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it, right?
As you get older, eventually you learn not to repeat mistakes. With your critical thinking skills and history of experiences, red flags are more apparent — even if you haven’t seen the exact red flag now waving in your face.
Remember when you were in a dating rut, dating different people with similar bad qualities? Gone are the days of dating different versions of the same person who isn’t right for you. You know what works and who works, and if nothing’s working you’re okay with going solo.
You’re more cautious about what you share with mom and dad, your siblings, and the rest of your family. Once you needed their help and guidance with everything, but now you’ve learned to avoid unnecessary concern and judgment.
You’ve also learned that family will give you their opinion whether you want it or not. So, you don’t invite more of it than you need.
You start to realize that while it’s fun to throw a few back late at night, it’s not so much fun early the next morning. This is also about the time you stop feeling the need to accept every RSVP for fear of eventually being left out.
Your self-confidence is higher.
The same person who longed for approval in high school no longer needs anyone’s approval today. That’s one of the best reasons getting older is awesome.
With each decade comes more confidence than the last. The thought of going on vacation or out for dinner alone no longer strikes fear inside you. In fact, it sounds quite desirable.
This brings with it an air of certainty and poise that only comes with age. The person who’s confident enough to enter a party alone and work a room is often the person everyone wants to know.
You have less drama.
Your teen years likely held the most drama in your life.
As you get older and older, fewer and fewer things cause you so much concern — you’ve learned to not care. You’ve learned that getting worked up every time someone else is worked up or every time the news or the radio says so is of no value to you.
You can’t control other people’s actions and beliefs. You focus more on your circle of influence and make your circle of concern smaller. Self-induced drama and other people’s drama melt away.
You have more wisdom.
With experience, mistakes, and success comes wisdom. Age is associated with wisdom, which is why the sages in books and movies are older than their young students.
Wisdom is the result of having been there and having done that — without having to announce it to the world. It’s having a better understanding of human behavior. It’s retaining and applying your personal history to the rest of the history surrounding you.
Wisdom is also knowing what you don’t know. It’s knowing when to ask more questions, when to listen, and when to not get involved.
You get paid for your experiences.
The reason you reach your peak earning years in your 40s and 50s is that you have the experience and history worth paying you more. And that is one of the biggest reasons getting older is awesome.
By your 40s, you’ve made your share of mistakes. You’ve learned from those mistakes — and learned to stop making them. Plus, you have enough right decisions to pad out your resume.
While youth is fun, adventurous, and new, age brings stability, clarity, and sophistication.
You can laugh at your younger self through younger generations.
It’s fun to watch younger generations and reminisce about your younger self. You see yourself in them and appreciate what they’re going through. But you appreciate even more that you’ve already been through it.
You know how they feel. You know what questions they have and what their concerns are. You can identify with their hopes and dreams. You had the good and bad relationships. You made the right and wrong choices. The life decisions they face today, you’ve already made.
Your empathy and understanding make you a great teacher. If they’re wise, they’ll seek your wisdom.
Your confidence and wisdom allow you to look back and laugh. But don’t forget to look back and forgive yourself.
Your priorities become your priority.
The best part of getting older is assuming the ability to say, “No.”
When you’re young and longing for approval, you’re apt to follow the crowd and not rock the boat. When you’re older, your experience affords you the opportunity to do what you want, when you want, and how you want.
“No, thank you,” is a refreshing place to be in life. Life is as much about the things we say no to as much as it’s about the things to which we say yes.
“No, I don’t want that promotion despite the higher income because I don’t want the extra stress.”
“No, thank you. I’d like the extra features on the car, but I don’t want the extra expenses.”
“No, I’m not interested.”
“I’m quitting this job because I don’t want to work for you anymore.”
It’s with confidence, experience, and wisdom that you’ve learned what you want and don’t want and build the courage to advocate for both.
You reap the rewards of all your good decisions.
By your 40s and 50s, you’ve accumulated the rewards of all your life-decisions. And getting older is awesome because now you can enjoy those rewards.
All you need are a few good decisions, to see the benefits. Even if you didn’t originally make the right choices, you’ve had time to tack accordingly and fix your mistakes.
Ours is a youth-obsessed culture, but it’s not because we all want to be younger.
It’s because those of us who are older are smart enough to appreciate the wisdom of our years — and we’re happy to let the next generation have the limelight.