This week I had the uncomfortable realization that I am aging. Before you scoff, let me explain. As I am 29, teetering on 30 (not until August! I am young for another 8 months!), this year has been one of certain realizations. With 2014 around the corner, I can't help but reflect upon certain hints (or you know.. blatant red signals) that have nudged me to realize I am not 21 anymore.
1.) When you can't figure out a gadget without the instructions
This Christmas I received a gift and when I was trying to program it, I had a moment of despair when I realized I shouldn't have thrown out the instructions. Holy crap! I actually needed them! The darn thing kept mocking me with it's inability to do what I wanted it to do. I'm sure that is a moment with most people when they grow older, suddenly everything is not as crystal clear as it was a couple years ago. Hopefully I am many years from that moment when a younger person sighs and grabs the electronic from my hand in a huff of impatience to do something FOR me that I can't figure out. That moment, will surely destroy me.
2.) You can't bounce back from a night of revelry
Remember in your early 20s when a night of drinking, dancing and hanging out with friends could last until 4 or 5 in the morning? I would then go home to sleep for a few hours and roll out of bed, only slightly tired, for class or work later that morning. I would be a little worn out by the late afternoon, but nothing major. Now if I'm out past 2 am, even just drinking water, I will probably be grumpy and tired the next day. Yawning at work. Daydreaming of my pillows. And don't even get me started on the power of Hangovers in your late 20s. They're the worst thing I've ever experienced. Rather than being cured by a bottle of water and a few hours of sleep, they last EONS. It takes gallons of water, piles of saltine crackers, pepto (on the darkest of days) and many, many naps. It hurts, so much.
3.) I often am struck by the fact that teenagers are the worst
When I'm in a store and some teenagers are yelling, throwing things, laughing hysterically, screaming at each other across the room, shrieking. I. can't. handle. it. I'm sure I was probably like this as a teen. I'm sure I was filled with self importance, glowing with energy and boisterous volume, letting the world HEAR ME because everything was just that important. But watching them, I can't help but hope I wasn't. That I was a little quieter, calmer and less disruptive. Dear god, please, I hope I was quieter.
4.) I care less about what other people think
With every year that passes, I care a little bit less about the opinion of other people. I'll dress how I'm comfortable, read a book instead of socializing, curl up at home instead of going out on the town, leave an event rather than staying to be polite and decorate my apartment however I wish. If you don't like it, that's ok. It's my life.
5.) I have to be responsible and stuff
Paying off loans, scheduling bill payments, moving into an apartment with an affordable rent, saving a little bit each paycheck to go towards the future. Wondering where I'll be in 5 years, in 10 years. Suddenly a lot of things matter than didn't as much a few years ago. There are now contracts and plans and taxes to be dealt with. I have to plan long term, not just for next month or next year.
6.) I find joy in my everyday existence
I have always appreciated the fact that I get to take pictures for a living, I know I'm extremely lucky. People all over the world love to take pictures. After all.. look at your facebook, your instagram, your twitter. The world is filled with images because people love to take them, share them and look at them. But I don't just get to do it for fun like any average joe, I get to do it for life, for my job. I'm blessed with the fact that I love what I do and I am already doing it. That isn't something everyone can say. I appreciate it more and more as I continue to be able to be a part of photojournalism year after year.
So in the spirit of my last point - here is a photo I took this week on assignment. Our morning didn't quite turn out the way we expected, but I got an image I liked while hanging out after we were done. Unexpected moments in unexpected places is another aspect I've learned to embrace and hope for daily.
So though I may not be too much wiser, I am ever hopeful and grateful despite the sporadic crushing realization of time whittling away at me. I keep reminding myself that people are living to be over a hundred these days. That makes over 2/3rds of my life still yet to experience and I'm looking forward to it.
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