Being Old and Getting Older

Two days left of being 31. I’m feeling old.

If you’re younger than 31, it sounds old right?

And I’m guessing that anyone older is screaming, ‘but you’re still young!’ Like I do when I read those hipsters moaning about being 23 in the likes of Vice Magazine. But it’s all relative right?

Fact is, at 31, middle age is just a few birthday candles away.

Getting older

Being old and getting older

I can feel myself getting older. See it. In some photos I’m shocked by my face when I’m papped by others, not ready with the usual and oh so annoying ‘social media gasp’. I can’t help myself but do it. I’m just not a pouter.

It’s rare that you see your face in its normal state, you’re usually brushing your teeth, putting on make up or changing your natural expression for a photo. I’ve always found it weird that you never really know what you look like, even a camera changes it in some way. And when friends exclaim with reassurance that ‘you just look like you!’ when you express negativity about a particular photo, I’m always left thinking ‘yikes, do I?’ And feel the need to apologise to anyone who’s had to look at me for any amount of time.

I look in the mirror today and lines are appearing by my eyes, I have these weird silver hairs in my brows (quite fond of them though) and even my skin texture is changing. That foundation just doesn’t sit like it used to.

Growing old

Sometimes when I meet up with friends, I can’t help but notice how they’ve aged, seeing as it’s usually been a year or two, and possibly a baby or three, since I’ve seen them anyway. Their teeth have changed, their face, their profile – they look different – and I’ve no doubt they must be thinking the same about me.

But no one would ever be honest with you regarding how, would they? They might not even know. We just look, older.

I’m holding onto the fact that photographers have long known that it’s wrinkles that give a face character and reveal a life that’s been lived. Isn’t it a sad thought though, that most people don’t like their laughter lines? Wishing all those years of faces wrinkled with joy away, so that instead they could have the uneventful face of youth.

It’s not just the physical side of getting older that’s starting to show, but most worryingly for me is what it means to those I love too. My friends’ problems are bigger now – not just work and guys – but births, deaths, marriage, divorce and debt. My parents are in pain from various ailments, summed up by the simple ‘getting old’, while a few older friends’ parents are suffering, or have suffered, with MND, cancer, dementia or any one of the many other horrible illnesses ready to get us as the birthdays pass.

Women ageing in the media

looking-over-the-adirondacks

At 31, almost 32, I’m all the more conscious that the media and advertising surrounds us with women younger than me, now. More successful, supposedly happier, thinner, prettier, practically perfect – well, thanks to the Photoshop – and very rarely older than 30. Men are allowed to get older gracefully in the media, their lines and greying hair are deemed attractive (‘silver fox’), while women disappear. The ones that do manage to stay in the public eye stay are reminded every day in some way that they’re getting older, and (inevitably) look older too. If they try to change it, with a new look or surgery to give in to the unwanted pressure, they’re ridiculed.

The prime example being Saturday night TV in the UK. Our most popular channels are currently showing Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor – where the men are allowed to age like a fine wine, while the women are either half their years or have a faceful of surgery.

Ageing as a travel blogger

me-in-croatia

I know I put myself out there online, ‘in the media’ and under the scrutiny, but getting older has actually made me all the more determined to. To not let the general female travel blogger profile be another 20-year-old looking beautiful, holding onto her hat for Instagram, somewhere around the world. You won’t find me editing wrinkles or chins out with apps, I don’t know how to and I wouldn’t want to deceive you anyway.

I went to a YouTube conference recently, where my 30ish-year-old friends and I were definitely in the oldest 10% in the building, if not 5. One of the YouTube staff up on stage told us that if we were over 24 then we were old on YouTube, and would have a lot of difficulty attracting an audience.

After the talk my friends and I joked how on The X Factor we’d be in that Overs category (over 28s apparently), pleading for our ‘last chance to make something of ourselves’. It was funny at the time, but it’s actually really sad. Why do humans have to have an expiry date now?

Just another marketing concept

Expiry dates were a concept thought up by Marks and Spencer’s in the 1970s to make people buy more food. If you’re only happy with something for a limited period, then it gives marketers and the media more chance to sell you something more when that time is up.

As humans, and there’s no doubt it applies more to women, are only ‘in date’ from around 18-25, and everyone else wants to be in that age group, then you can sell them the dream of being in that age group via beauty, fitness, fashion, food and everything else.

There are a lot more people waiting to get in, and being churned out the other side, than actually in it, creating a whole market of people desperate to be older, or younger, by any means possible.

So it makes sense, as marketers and the media, to make everyone else feel bad in themselves, so they need their product to feel better. Get it?

We need a revolt.

The future and getting even older

me-laughing-in-tel-aviv

I’ve found myself looking around at people older than me and working out where I want to be in the next few years. Now that I apparently can’t be a YouTube sensation, or win a TV talent show, how do I want my life to pan out?

I know I live a very different life to most of my friends, the non-travel blogger ones anyway, and these last few weeks I’ve noticed it even more. My friends have grown up, they’ve got houses, marriages, babies, are moving up in their jobs, have dishwashers and cars and apple trees in their gardens and spare rooms and fully stocked fridges. It’s made me realise that at some point in the future I do want all that stuff, or some of it anyway.

I’m living a dream life but dreams shift. I need to lay the foundations now for the life I want to live when I’m older. As I look for inspiration from my parents and friends’ parents to see whose good fortune in health and finance I want to emulate – much of it seems to be up to luck, rather than a conscious choice of investment in lifestyle or assets. Of being in the right place at the right time.

But as a 31 year old in 2016 we know more now. We shouldn’t smoke, shouldn’t drink, should eat salmon, quinoa, blueberries and use moisturiser twice daily. We need to invest in property, focus on experiences not possessions, think about pensions and put away for the future. We need to work hard now to reap the benefits in the future

Obviously I’ve got the ‘focus on experiences’ thing down, but if I want to work on all the other things I’ve listed I’m going to have to change my life over the next few months, and I’m ready for it.

Growing old is a privilege

me-in-the-car-in-israel

Growing old is a privilege, I absolutely believe that. It’s a privilege that’s been denied to too many of my friends. You only have to catch a snippet of the news to hear about more people, most heartbreakingly, innocent children, who will never know what it feels like to be a day older. To moan about aching bones, tired muscles or ‘things not being like they used to be’.

So it’s down to us, us 30+ year olds, to have the perspective and gratitude that I think is the key to a happy life. To accept that we are going to change, physically and mentally, and that those around us are going to change too. To show that as long as we all accept getting older together and support each other, getting older doesn’t have to be thwart with all the worries about ‘where you’ve reached in your career’, ‘in your love life’, ‘with your friends’. We don’t have to fear it.

I had a lot of fun in my twenties, but I’m done. I wouldn’t go back.

The media can try to make us 30+ lot feel bad, all those ‘things to do before your 30 lists’ can freak you out, ticking the next age box on any form is scary, and you and your mates might’ve put on a few pounds, but if we stick together, with our shared knowledge that a Saturday night in with a G+T is much more fun than shouting over music in the club it will make us a lot happier.

The 20 somethings can have their Snapchat, their crop tops, their millennial branding and all their insecurities, I’ll take my new interest in house prices and the laughter lines around my eyes, and a big fat slice of my 32nd birthday cake instead.

Is getting older something that bothers you? Any thoughts?

My Mental Health as a Travel Blogger
Am I Lonely, Travelling Solo?

24 Comments

  1. by Angie Silver on October 9, 2016  6:51 pm Reply

    I'm turing 34 in four weeks and I have to say I'm not looking forward to it but I'm lucky to have a happy healthy life and I agree it's all about coming to terms with the fact that life is different but that it's not necessarily better to be in your twenties :)

    • by Vicky on October 14, 2016  6:37 am Reply

      Yeah, I agree. After reading these comments and talking to my friends I realised I follow a lot of young creatives on all the social media and in blogging, and it's probably not the best thing for my mental wellbeing. I think I've been putting myself in a younger world, so I've changed that :).

  2. by Danielle on October 9, 2016  8:28 pm Reply

    Turning 32 but still looking 21! Eurgh, I hate the stigma that people have a expiry date nowadays, you are talented and absolutely fabulous at what you do - if you want to go and be a YouTube sensation, you go and do it! I'll subscribe immediately!

    • by Vicky on October 14, 2016  6:47 am Reply

      Ha, thanks. Definitely don't feel like I do! Aw, that's so lovely to say. I'm going to try and make some videos from my trip to Costa Rica next week. I'll let you know how they go :)

  3. by Jayne on October 9, 2016  10:24 pm Reply

    Beautiful post Vic. It's funny because I've been thinking about similar things recently too, (I'll be 32 not long after you in December!) When you're younger you have this ideal in your head of where you'll be at certain ages and then life happens and you realise it's all bullshit. All the things I thought I would have at 32 (house, kids, car etc) I'm finding that I don't even want at 31 but it can be hard to have the confidence to recognise and own that when media (and sometimes your mates) project otherwise.

    And as for YouTube I'm totally going to follow you on there too. I watch/read content for its value irrespective of the age of the creator!!

    • by Vicky on October 14, 2016  6:50 am Reply

      Definitely, you've summed it up there. I still kind of have the same attitude to it all as I did when I was younger, which is basically 'yeah, sure, one day'. But I guess as you get older, that 'one day' is approaching a little quicker. I think sometimes we can put the pressure on ourselves based on some sort of ingrained ideal that we're projecting on ourselves, and it's not even necessarily other people who are making us feel like that but what we're thinking they're thinking. My reply is getting complicated... :)

  4. by Brooklyn Murtaugh on October 9, 2016  11:13 pm Reply

    Ever since I was a child, everyone has always called me an old soul. I was the kid who hung out with her grandparents friends and prefer the company of those older than me. I am 25 and have always felt old.
    I have tried to feel "young" before but it just isn't me.
    I have lost so many friends who died before their time, so growing old is definitely a privilege to me.
    I have never worried about growing old.

    • by Vicky on October 14, 2016  6:53 am Reply

      That's great and refreshing to hear Brooklyn. I think I have, but having written this and thinking about it more, I've realised that I shouldn't and that I should just accept it's happening. I think I'm the opposite to you in that I hang out with younger people and am always looking to pop culture and YA entertainment. I should probably stop that and start doing things more age appropriate!

  5. by Kayte on October 10, 2016  8:11 am Reply

    Usually, as birthdays come and go, I would contemplate how I 'feel' about my age. This year, I forgot to do that, but my usual approach is to think whether I feel like I've accomplished what I'd like to have accomplished by this age (which is individual to me and not measured by any external influences) and usually the answer is yes, which makes me feel just fine. This year, I've not thought about it at all, which makes me wonder if I'm at peace with my age, if I'm in denial or if life just got in the way of pondering such things this time round. This post has given me a lot to think about - including whether you were looking at my profile during your recent visit and thinking how I've aged...

    • by Vicky on October 14, 2016  6:57 am Reply

      Ha, it's just something I've noticed in general, for all my lovely friends, not just you Kayte. I can't deny you're looking older than when we first met at 4 years old though... :)

      Yeah I think I had a lot of time to think about it all this year, which is why I wrote this. The last few years I've been too busy as and as you say, life got in the way. Birthdays are just such a milestone every year it's tempting to compare to last year and to others, but yeah, as long as you're happy with where you're at in life, irrespective of everyone else, then that's ok.

  6. by Angelica on October 10, 2016  2:37 pm Reply

    I'm turning 30 next month and embracing it. I feel like 80 is the new 60 and 50 is the new 30. As I personally have aged, life has gotten better with more choices, maturity, money and a whole bunch of other things. I feel happier as I get to live my life more fully than I did when I was in my younger 20's. Definitely making less mistakes now but still not perfect.. I think the media has been more open to women of age but still needs more acceptance of us. If you look at TV shows ( some) like AMHS, little women, friends, naked and afraid, botched, women above 30 are aired and being shown or playing main roles. Of course i still think theres a stereotype of being older yet still being considered " beautiful enough " by them. I think a big factor to aging that the media looks at is maturity levels, older women know more and how to stand their ground better. However , how naive the younger ones can be to sign up or go along with something is another aspect of age for the media. Hopefully progress is made ..tons to say on the matter.

    • by Vicky on October 14, 2016  7:00 am Reply

      Absolutely agree with everything you're saying Angelica. And when I mentioned X Factor above, I thought it was Cheryl Cole who was on it and Pixie Lott, who are about 25/30, but in fact it's Nicole Sherzinger who's 40-something and Sharon Osborne who's 60ish. Maybe things are changing, it's just the media I consume that hasn't.

      Thanks for your comment, it's definitely made me think.

      Vicky

  7. by Rachel on October 10, 2016  5:06 pm Reply

    As someone who recently turned 36 I can absolutely relate. I mean, I'm only a few years away from 40 and that's PROPER OLD! haha. Being in your 30s doesn't mean you suddenly have to stay in on a Saturday night watching X Factor though, I still go clubbing and ain't nobody gonna tell me I'm too old to go dancing. Embrace your age, what ever it is and don't listen to anyone who tells you you're "too old" for something. oh and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    • by Vicky on October 14, 2016  7:43 am Reply

      You're absolutely correct in everything you say there Rachel. And thank you!

  8. by Steve Biggs on October 11, 2016  8:23 am Reply

    6 comments and all women so far so I thought I'd chip in ;)

    At 31 I felt like I was just starting rather than finishing. At 30 I was actually getting somewhere career wise, I realised there was far more to life than just going out drinking every weekend, plus I started to have other interests and goals such as marathon running, travelling and so on. I've definitely achieved more, and had far more great experiences in my 30s than my 20s. Extra money has helped admittedly

    Yes - of course there isn't the same "looks" issue for men that society sadly keeps perpetuating :( But as a man there's that pressure where you're expected to have a career, a house etc. and to be the "provider".

    Controversial statement alert :) Girl friends I've spoken to have validated this by saying they wouldn't date a man who didn't have his own house by a certain age. Something that wouldn't be the case the other way round I suspect.

  9. by Vicky on October 14, 2016  7:48 am Reply

    Hey Steve, thanks for your comment. Always good to try and get a bit of balance here. That's great to hear your positive experiences of being in your 30s, seems to be working out great for me too. Money and confidence and an increased understanding of what's what have definitely helped. Ooo that's interesting. I can see why some girls would think that, and yeah, have never looked at it the other way round. Guess it all depends on the life decisions you make, and what you regard as important. It wouldn't be a deal breaker for me, but if they haven't travelled somewhere interesting by age 30 I think that would show what kind of person they were and I'd have to reassess whether I thought we'd have the big things in common.

  10. by Erin Glass on October 15, 2016  4:10 pm Reply

    Great post Vicky! I just turned 40 and I was really struggling with it for a while. What I finally realized is that I am at a great place in my life. I have the maturity of life experience, but I'm still young enough to be able to try new things and evolve even more. I just got married right before I turned 40 and now I have decided to quit my job and work on starting a location independent business as a blogger. I feel more hopeful about the future than I ever have in the past. Best of luck to you as you contemplate what you want your own future to look like. Love your blog!

    • by Vicky on November 2, 2016  5:10 pm Reply

      Thanks Erin! I think getting older is one of those things that is much worse to think about than it actually is in practice. I was all angsty on the run up but now I've actually reached the grand old age of 32 I haven't thought about it at all. I don't feel it or act it and even if I did, so what. I was feeling old, but now I couldn't care less! We have an awesome life – woohooo!

  11. by Leah on October 18, 2016  11:18 pm Reply

    Really enjoyed this one Vicky! I'm coming up on 30 next year and I've definitely noticed a big shift in myself--a propensity for the responsible, stable choices my younger self would have scoffed at. A strong desire to take care of my health and mental well-being. And a lot fewer fucks given about the silly shit I used to give fucks about. Aging is a privilege, indeed, thank you for that reminder today <3

    • by Vicky on November 2, 2016  5:11 pm Reply

      Hey Leah,

      Totally agree. I didn’t mention it in the article, but yes, I’m definitely feeling that need to look after myself more too. I’ve also noticed that I’m more cautious about things though – I feel like a bit of a health and safety officer lately. And I don’t recognise myself in the fact that I’ve skydived – what was I *doing*?!

  12. by Alice Teacake on October 26, 2016  3:07 pm Reply

    32 year old solo female travel blogger right here! I recently was asked to write an article on how travelling has changed in my 30s. My answer was 'not at all!'. I love what I'm doing and don't want my age to dictate what I should be.

    It certainly does annoy me that men being silver foxes whilst women have to continually look 20 is very real in this world. Age really is just a number. Here's to embracing our age, our changes and to continue keep on rocking!

    • by Vicky on November 2, 2016  4:53 pm Reply

      Hey Alice,

      I think in the months leading up to this I was getting a bit angsty and sensitive about it being my birthday. Ever since I wrote it I’ve barely thought about being 32. In fact, I think that’s the first time I’ve written it. It’s all the same really isn’t it? Whether you’re having the time of your life at 31, 32, or 61, as long as you’re enjoying yourself!

      X

  13. by Henry on May 18, 2017  4:08 pm Reply

    Trust me Vicki, as someone who recently left 30s for the 40s, the quality of life only gets better! My partner is 37, I'm 42, and neither of us have any intention of slowing down our travels. I've found that I'm enjoying following the older blogger set a lot more recently; the quality of the writing is better, there are better insights to a place, and there are generally far fewer click-bait articles and listicles. You're doing just fine!

    • by Vicky on June 12, 2017  9:55 am Reply

      Ah thanks Henry. Yeah, I think with some bloggers it's all about looking pretty in pretty places, while others try to give actual advice and insight into destinations. Guess it depends on what you're looking for to decide who you want to spend your time following. I just want to help people travel more and enjoy their festivals as much as possible!

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