You Are Only as Old as You Think You Are

Christina - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on February 3, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: change, family

I believe that you are only as old as you think you are.

As the youngest in a family of five children, I haven’t always held this belief. In fact, I never thought about getting older. I was always the youngest and always would be—at least in my family.

But then, just the other day, I was talking to my father, complaining about some physical ailment. “Dad, I feel so old…”

In reply, he said, “Sweetheart, I don’t know any old people.” His comment stopped me cold. I pondered his words for the next few days and realized he was right. We are only as old as we think we are. We don’t have to feel—or act—our age.

Looking back, I realize that my father actually lives these words. When Dad turned 50, he was slightly overweight; his back hurt. He could have just stayed on the couch. But then my sister came home from college and introduced Dad to running. By the time he turned 60, Dad ran three marathons. Today, at age 80, he’s in excellent health; the doctors are amazed.

My father is not the only one who believes this. Grandpa Henry, my father’s father, was 99 years old when he joined the exercise class at his retirement home. Before class, the women residents would fight over who would place the weights near Grandpa’s chair before class began. He would walk into the room, smiling like a teenager at the school dance.

Then, there was Grandma Josie, my mother’s mother, who, at the age 80 got married for the second time. One night, my sister was making dinner for Grandma and her fiancé, John. She left Grandma and John on the couch, while she went to check on the meal. When she came back, she saw Grandma and John kissing. When I first heard the story as a teenager, I was so embarrassed! Grandma!!! Now, years later, I think it’s sweet. Grandma was in love—and there’s no age limit for love.

Finally, there’s my mother. When my parents were first married, Mom typed my father’s college thesis. Then, she stayed home with their five children—and with Dad, made sure there was money to finance our college educations. While I was still in high school, the last of the five kids, my mom got an idea. “I want to graduate from college before my youngest does.”

Mom enrolled at the community college, then transferred to university. One year before my college graduation, my mother graduated. Dressed in cap and gown, she held up her college diploma and smiled. That day, it did not matter that she was one of the oldest students in class all those years. That day, she positively glowed.

Over the years, my family has served as living examples to me, and for that, I am thankful. They also taught me that we are only as old as we think we are. And this, I believe.