Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Alta Mantsch, the voice behind Tasty Eats at Home, a food blog I’ve been reading for years. Alta is a genuinely kindhearted friend of mine whose positive, easygoing approach to life makes me wish she was my neighbor. It’s a delight to have her here today as she shares her thoughts on getting older with a grateful heart.
I know I’m likely the minority in this opinion (it’s not the first time I’ve gone against the crowd), but I’m thankful for each year that I am older.
Yes, that’s right. Getting older isn’t a scary thing for me. I don’t pine for my youth or days gone by.
That doesn’t mean that getting older doesn’t come with a price—I know as I age, inevitably my body will get a little slower, a little achier, and I will discover limitations. I know my hair will become gray, and my skin will thin and wrinkle. I’ll take each of those as they come, but I’m okay with all of that. It’s normal.
What I truly embrace with age? Wisdom.
Every year that goes by, I learn. I learn more about the world, and I learn more about life in general. Sometimes I learn by doing the wrong thing. In fact, sometimes I have to do that wrong thing several times before I “get it.” More often than not, the more I learn, the more I realize that there’s just so much that I don’t know.
I’m grateful for the ways in which the world has opened my eyes to more than I ever thought possible. I grew up in a relatively quiet, suburban neighborhood in Texas. For the most part, everything was monochromatic. People looked a lot alike, thought a lot alike, made similar amounts of money, went to church—it was a little pocket of the world. I still live not far from that suburb, and while it’s grown and diversified, it’s still by and large a suburban Texas neighborhood, with suburban Texas roots. I love my home, but learning that the world is, in fact, much larger and more diverse than my little corner of the universe has been life-changing for me.
I have discovered that not everyone thinks the same way as I do. Not everyone lives, worships, believes, or operates in the same way as most of the people I encounter in my day-to-day life. There are extreme differences in financial means, cultural norms, religion, and more that shape people. Their experience is not the same as my own.
For example, in my youth, I never considered what it was truly like to grow up with the privileges I did. I took the fact that I was a white, middle class, suburban citizen for granted. We didn’t have much when I was a child, but we had enough to make it through, and I wasn’t at a disadvantage for it. Not so with a great many families and individuals. The same goes for many other aspects of life that differ from my own. This growing awareness of what I didn’t know has allowed me to break down my previous assumptions about the world in a grand way. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more accepting of the diversity, and my interpretation of the world is changed.
In a similar manner, I also am gaining confidence as I get older. I think this has a lot to do with wisdom as well. As I am learning more about the diversity of the world and its people, I am learning that among that diversity there is no one right way. As I embrace that, I realize that I, too, am not wrong for my own beliefs, opinions, or choices. I gain more of a sense of self, and I’m less concerned whether who I am and what I believe in aligns with the beliefs of others. Sometimes, this makes me feel rather alone in my thoughts, but as I grow older, I find that I’m alright with that.
With that confidence, I am slowly finding my voice. I find that even if I differ in my opinions, I can speak about them. I’m not nearly as concerned about conforming to beliefs of others around me. If I believe in something strongly, I don’t hold back for fear of confrontation from those who believe differently. I’ve grown up not wanting to be one that rocks the boat. Now, I don’t seek out conflict, but if there is something to be said, I’m more likely to stand my ground and say it—even if I am wrong. It’s still something I am practicing, but the more I gain confidence and use it, the stronger that confidence becomes.
Most of all, I’m thankful that as I grow older, I realize more and more that I don’t know everything. That there is still so much in this world left to learn. Age is not something I fear, because with age comes experience. And I want to experience it all.