Getting older: Partly shite and partly not too shabby

I’m getting older as various younger friends like to gleefully point out to me on a constant basis, predominantly because they’re bastards. There are a great many downsides to this process but a few upsides too from a personal standpoint. Before that I want to give you an idea of what I was like when I was younger just so it makes the rest make a degree of sense.

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Late teens, early twenties me was a bit of a prick all told, I was an arrogant, know it all arsehole with a massive chip on his shoulder and a general disregard for other people. I was also ridiculously skinny to the point where I looked ill, it didn’t matter what I’d eat either, I just wouldn’t put weight on. There’s also the small matter of having depression and not really knowing what was going on with me and largely ignoring it because I just assumed it’d go away on it’s own.

Here we are a decade and a half or so later and quite a lot has changed both physically and mentally. Let’s start with the old metabolism, which is well and truly gone. I’m now considerably heavier than I was and while I don’t look ill any more I’m definitely overweight and really need to start doing something proactive about it in terms of doing more exercise. I appreciate that I was always likely to put on weight at some point, I think I just wasn’t expected quite so much. And it’s clearly only raging alone and nothing to do with my love burgers!

I have the usual things like the receding hairline which has been going on since I was 17 in all honesty, admittedly it’s getting thinner at the front now which kinda sucks though push comes to shove I’ll just shave it off if it gets to bad, fuck this clinging on to it malarkey, ain’t nobody got time for that. I have barely any grey hair though so every cloud and all that. I still can’t grow facial hair worth a damn though which is annoying as all hell.

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Eyesight wise things have held together remarkably well for the most part, I have a slight precription which I have glasses for but don’t really need to wear. I tend to really only wear them when my eyes feel tired or I have a headache. Irritatingly though I’m now deemed a glaucoma risk due to my eye pressure and a history of it in the family which means yearly appointments at the hospital to check my eyes aren’t fucked basically. So far so good, though I hate going as some of the checks are bloody unpleasant though I suppose it’s better safe than sorry.

Next lets talk aches and pains because I have a shit load. The back is a particular delight which I suspect is partially due to my job and partially due to years to slouching and hunching. My groin aches regularly from a hernia I didn’t get seen to for far too long and my knees are essentially fucked. Numerous football injuries and an injury I had when I was a kid mean that they ache quite a bit a fair amount of the time and in winter when it’s cold it can be especially bad, I’ve had instances (thankfully rare) where I’ve not been able to sleep due to the pain in my knees. I figure I’m going to need shiny new ones at some point hopefully far in the future.

There’s in an upside to the increased weight, my alcohol tolerance has become much better than it was when I was skinny. A couple of pints back then and I would have been shitfaced whereas now I can put away quite a bit more before the inevitable, I also very rarely chunder due to booze nowadays which can’t be appreciated enough. On the flipside hangovers are absolute bastards, they last 2 days if I’m lucky and if I head out for a proper night out then I’ll essentially feel bollocks for the best part of the week.

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With the physical out of the lets talk about the mental. My depression seems to be a reasonable starting point given I’ve discussed it before. Obviously I have a much better understanding of what it is, how it impacts me and what I can do to help myself a bit when it sets in. I also now that anti depressants don’t work for me but counselling does which has been helpful in the past. I’ve accepted that it’ll likely always be something I struggle with but I also know that I determined not to ever let it get the better of me.

I’ve never had anything approaching a healthy relationship and I think I’ve finally learned to spot a situation which will end badly for me which is handy. I’ve also learned that you can’t make another person responsible for your happiness, it’s not fair on them and it stops you taking responsibility for your own happiness. This is has been an important lesson, learning it has made me think that I’m better prepared to avoid a toxic relationship in future and also makes me believe that I’d have something decent to offer in a relationship, though I also concede that this currently imaginary person would require the patience of a damn saint. Confidence wise not a lot has changed over the years, I’m still painfully shy around people I like and I have more than a fair amount of self doubt when it comes to taking risks with people I’m interested in, and I’m still utterly clueless as to whether someone likes me which in terms of combinations is as fucking useless as you’d expect.

I still the same smart arse bastard I always was, the difference is that now I’m well aware that I don’t know everything and have a lot to learn. This is actually something I’ve come to enjoy over the years, learning new things and new challenges helps keep my brain active in a positive way which is needed. I’ve also always been a fan of having weird and trivial knowledge about weird things, there’s nothing quite like relaying some freaky or disgusting fact to a friend and watching their look of horrified fascination.

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I’m a lot more self aware now, I know the kind of person I want to be and I try and make an effort to make sure I work on that as much as I can. I’d like to think my friends know how much they mean to me, I certainly try to make sure that they feel valued. I’ve also decided that changing aspects of what make me who I am because I feel that’s what growing up means is fucking stupid, unsurprisingly it turns out that I’m far happier just being who I am, shocking to think how long it took me to that particular realisation.

In my efforts to be the best version of me I’m capable of being I’ve learned a few things that have been useful. Things like patience and control of my temper, I used to have an awful temper and getting to the point where I’m calmer has been incredibly useful but has also been incredibly challenging. This has been worked on mainly because I didn’t think it was healthy to be so angry all the time and also because I was capable of being a properly spiteful prick at times. Ultimately it’s definitely a change that’s made me feel a lot happier in myself and I tend to offend people marginally less as a result.

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I have an appreciation for other people’s ideas and opinions where this wasn’t always the case. The issue with arrogance is that you tend to think your opinion is the only one that matters which is obviously fucking ridiculous. One of my favourite things about making the effort here is that it’s opened the door to discussing opinions with people and debating with them in a respectful and often incredibly interesting way. I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has altered or enhanced my way of thinking about some things. Life is a lot more interesting if you’re able to swallow your pride a little.

As a kid there was only one thing that really scared me, thoughts around death. I’ve always been terrified of dying and of the people I love dying too, it’s a little silly in a way as it’s a natural part of life but the idea that you essentially cease to be at some point down the road is something that scares the shit out of me. And the issue with getting older is that you begin to realise that the constants in your life like parents and grandparents aren’t going to be around for ever. The bittersweet part is that this realisation can make you treasure the time you spend with these people that much more. I know that when people go it’s heartbreaking but from a personal standpoint I know that I’ll have lots of really great memories to look back on.

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Getting older can add a few more fears into the mix, not always rational and definitely not helpful and I’ve got a few, I worry that I’m going to go through life never knowing what I actually want to do with it, I’ve fallen into a career of sorts in something I”m reasonably good at and that potentially gives me chances to progress in different directions but it’s also a job I don’t think I’m well suited to personality wise. I’ve kinda lucked into a current role that seems to embrace the person I am but that hasn’t always been the case so there’s always a nagging doubt in my head-on that front.

I also worry that I’m going to end up alone, which in a way is fucking ridiculous given the fact that I have a number of good friends and that I’m pretty close with my siblings, all of whom seem to enjoy my company and make the effort to spend time with me which is obviously nice. The worry is that I’ll never meet someone and actually have something approaching a healthy relationship, which is obviously compounded by my own fears of being rejected getting in the way of me actually attempting to instigate something with someone I like which is definitely something I need to work on, That being said better to be alone and happy with myself that in a shitty, toxic relationship that gradually changes me as a person in a negative way.

There’s obviously instances where I look back and wonder if I should have made different choices in my. Things like whether I should have stayed at college or made different job decisions, crap like that. There’s an element of wondering how things would have turned out in those circumstances but I never really dwell on it too much as it’s largely pointless and because it’s due to the choices I’ve made that I’ve got the friends I’ve got and I would change that for anything really.

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That being said I’d probably give the younger me some advice given the opportunity. I’d like let him know the importance of his friends just so that he’d not wait quite so long to make that connection, I’d also have a serious talk about depression so that this could have been identified a lot sooner and a decent amount of bullshit could have been avoided. I’d also advise lottery numbers as standard just so as to be rich enough to do things like travelling and all that kind of stuff, but who wouldn’t do that given the chance.

Overall I’m pretty happy with the person I’ve turned out to be for the most part, even if I’m essentially falling apart. I think too much a lot of the time but it’s also made me a pretty decent person who is incredibly loyal to the people I care about which seems to be appreciated. Obviously there is always work to be done but it’s something I’m quietly confident about being able to achieve, it seems like a degree of wisdom has come with age so there’s a pretty decent chance that this continues to be the case as I get older.

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