Im 8 and a half, I said to one of my mothers friends years and years ago. I wanted to make absolutely sure she knew I was not just 8. When I became 12 years old, all I could think about was becoming a teenager. I literally marked off the days on a calendar so I would know how many months and days it would be until I became 13.
Thirteen, it just flowed from my mouth so effortlessly. In fact, the entire year I was 12, I always added the appropriate fraction when telling my age. Im 12 and three-quarters! quickly transitioned into, Im almost a teenager!
Transitioning from one year to another was always very important to me as a teenager. After I became comfortable being 13, I automatically shifted my thoughts to being 15 because thats when I could get my learners license to drive. I couldnt even really enjoy my 15th year because I already had my sights set on my next birthday.
Becoming 16 was a very important year. It allowed me to get behind the wheel of a car and drive by myself. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I may as well have been grown. In my mind, I was then an adult.
When I was younger, I looked at age in a very different way than I do now. In my mind, my grandparents were ancient by virtue of the fact they were my grandparents. Now, when I do the math on their ages, they were actually not very old at all when I was a small child; I just perceived them as old.
When my mother turned 50, I thought she was on the cusp of becoming outright decrepit. But when I turned 50, I certainly didnt think that at all.
Mother used to always tell me that aging was really the one thing in life that was fair: Everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, becomes a year older on their birthday.
It was then that I began to realize that as we age we shift the way we think about it. Some people fudge their age, while others try to hide it completely. In reality, each year we all get older.
Even though we all get a year older, age is a perception. How we choose to embrace it is really what tells our story. Weve all heard the old saying, Youre only as old as you feel. The older I become, the clearer that saying becomes.
In my mind, I certainly realize Im no longer a teenager but I also dont feel like Im 52 and three-quarter years old either. Thats because I opt to look at aging in a positive way. I try to think of all the wisdom from life experiences Ive gathered during the process of becoming middle-aged that I couldnt even conceive of when I was younger.
I am grateful for each and every year, realizing that with each day Im given more chances to continue to grow. After all, Ive found age is a gift and not a death sentence. Aging is actually a form of transitioning from one place in our lives to another.
This past weekend, I went on a search for a photo I needed to use in an upcoming project. I knew what it would mean to travel back in time via old photos. Ive done it many times before. With one push of a button and a single flash of light, a moment in time is captured forever. When we see old photos, they immediately evoke memories of our past life. Some are good and some are not so good, but the photos are all there mixed together in a storage box.
After opening the lid of the box, I flew like a bird sent on a special mission through decades of my life in a matter of minutes. Photo after photo, I viewed my life in photos from my birth until present day. These photos included the good, the bad and the ugly. Some photos made me smile, some laugh and some even invited tears to well up in my eyes.
If you want to see where youve been, old photographs are more than willing to show you. And, if you think the years fly by now, they seem to be at the speed of light when looking back.
What always amazes me about looking at old photos is how things have changed in just my lifetime. Not just fashions and hairstyles but also technology. With each faded black and white photo to the ones we now take in brilliant color, our history is recorded. Until we take a moment to glimpse back, sometimes we forget all weve accomplished while the world was changing around us.
As I closed the box of photos, I was exhausted because I felt as if I had been on a long journey through time -- but it was one that was definitely worth taking.
A wrinkle here or a gray hair there pales in comparison with all the fun times, important life moments and lessons weve learned during the years -- lessons that teach us whats really important and help us have smoother transitions into the next chapters of our lives.
After all, when everything is said and done, no one will remember your age, but they will remember and celebrate the things you did as you aged. Now thats whats really important.
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