It is my theory that every decade contains an “in between” time, and every person experiences it in length or in short, each as difficult as the last.
“Someone told me long ago, there’s a calm before the storm. I know, it’s been coming for some time.” -CCR.
I hadn’t intended to quote songs in this blog post but it just happened, because this song came on and seemed fitting to my mood and this post. So there it is, words I currently live by. What I call the “in between” time can often feel stormy and unbalanced. It’s a time for growth and a time for learning, but it’s also confusing and ominous.
Take the first decade of your life. From the moment you’re born you’re determined to learn, to achieve and succeed. You spend your first few years of that decade proud to go from helpless newborn to toddler, to big kid who can keep up with older siblings/neighborhood kids/older cousins- and then what? You slowly begin to realize, starting between 5-7 years old, that you’ve not just succeeded in accomplishing a life goal- but you’re headed for something entirely new and must start over again. The second this realization hits, you’ve just entered the “in between time.” The wait. You wonder what’s next, you’re feeling awkward, you’re not quite toddler but you’re not quite adolescent and the turmoil has begun.
Then suddenly you’re ten or eleven and things begin to change, and fast. your body, your life, your friends, your family- your maturity and comprehension. Things that you didn’t quite understand in the past suddenly occur to you and enter the chaos that is your adolescent mind as you go from nervous preteen, to “independent” teen, and slowly start coming into your own as a person striving for an identity that doesn’t label them a child. Between the ages 15-17 it suddenly begins- that “in between” time, in which you wonder what your childhood was all about and care little of that as the bigger question comes to you- what is adulthood going to be like? How is it going to differ from this experience? How will I grow? What will I learn? And the wait begins.
So does the turmoil. Things begin to change. Your friends, your maturity, your family, your attitude and mentality. You knew this was coming, but you just couldn’t quite comprehend it until it hits.
And it does, with force. 20 is here, you’re no longer a teen. Where did those years go? What will my twenties be like? Exciting? Full of wonder? Will being “grown up” prove to be all I thought it could be as a child? Independence and free-will, choices I can finally make for myself without relying on anyone else to tell me what to do. Relationships and cars and jobs and careers and sometimes kids and marriage and sometimes just enjoying single life. Then it hits- about the age 25-27. It occurs to you suddenly that you never were grown up, you had just TOLD yourself you were because you could finally drink (legally) and make your own decisions for better or worse. The time when you go from thinking you’re old enough and mature enough to pursue your wants and needs to actually knowing what they are. The waiting begins. The chaos starts. And you start to wonder if this means the “real” adult decisions are going to need to be made? The ones that make every adult you’ve known in your entire young life seem bitter and repressed, older than their time? You never wanted to be that way and swore you never would. So what will the next couple of years be like? Do you really have a choice?
I’m stuck in the “in between” twenties and have the unique perspective of the elderly, being that I have worked in elder care for so long and in so many settings, listening to the stories of their lives and their feelings as they grew up. If you’ve ever been to an elderly person’s home, you will find that most of them have pictures up from what they consider “the glory years.” Their milestones such as school pictures and wedding pictures and pictures of their youth. To somebody in their 70’s and up, pictures of their youth include not just childhood and wedding pictures but images of their 25, 50, 60 year anniversaries and so on. I feel absolutely privileged to hear these stories and see these pictures. To see if the smiles of their twenties match the smiles of their 70’s. To those truly lucky- they do.
I know the thirties is a time to come to terms with being a real adult and learning and putting into effect your potential as a human being, watching the efforts of your hard work blossom through your forties and fifties though I can’t imagine the in between times in those decades to be any easier than any other decade, unfortunately, I don’t know much of those decades because I don’t know a lot of people in those years and obviously don’t know from experience. What I see of those “in betweens” is that people tend to freak out about their age the most during those middle years of forties and again in their fifties. They’re exiting their prime. Their bodies are fighting them. Hormones are wackier than they ever have been before, especially for women, and nothing seems to be going right, and… well, you’re getting older. So as most people see it within themselves. True or not, it’s unfailing that everyone in every “in between” stage reflects on their age and what it means. To those lucky few, it won’t matter. The appearance of youth occurs when you reflect upon your life not in TIME, but in MOMENTS. The MOMENT you married the love of your life- not the YEAR or how OLD you were when it happened. The day your had your first child and not the YEAR or how OLD you happened to be. It’s a lucky mindset, and one that preserves your youth as a frame of mind and a healthy state of being- not a time that disappeared with your twenties, thirties, forties, fifties…
I have found one distinct difference in those age groups (those leading up to the “in between” of life itself- the forties and fifties, or as everyone calls it, “mid life”) and the older folks and elderly. (60’s and beyond.) The turmoil and chaos of those decades are gone. They’re more comfortable with themselves than they have been in their years past. Their in between moments are simply waiting for the time they can be self sufficient to the time when they begin to need help to get along in life. The time they’re waiting for their bodies and their independence to fail, and the struggles of striving for that independence are gone. When this life-long determination to achieve independence actually proves true is unknown, But most know when that independence begins to falter.
But then suddenly those issues are all gone and it’s freeing. The trauma of a bad grade, the trauma of married life, the trauma of mid-life and menopause, the issues that you were so SURE would end your life are suddenly a past, sometimes fond memory, and these individuals either accept them as gone or actually wish they could relive them, most wish to relive them differently and savor the moments better this time around.
I guess what I’m trying to say is… as you go along through life and enter this “in between” time and wonder what’s next- you also need to be determined to appreciate what you just went through and savor what comes next, and stop worrying about what can’t be changed and just accept it and move on. Because one day, those issues won’t be issues anymore, and you’ll wonder why you let it effect you so much when you could have spent that time and effort enjoying those around you and the MOMENTS in life, that make life worth living.
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