Growing old vicariously

I’m in my 30s, but generally I don’t feel like I’ve grown up.

Sometimes the illusion fades, and I’ll look up from my cartoons and think, “Holy hell, I’ve bought and sold real estate property, I’m the primary breadwinner in my household, and I’m getting married. I definitely should not have this much responsibil–hahaha, farts!”

There was a fart on the cartoon in that particular scenario. That kind of thing makes it hard for it to sink in that I may possibly, just somewhat, be growing up.

On the other hand, I get constant reminders that I’m growing older.

For instance, I’ll stretch a little and a muscle will twinge and start to hurt. I’ll laugh it off at first, but it lingers throughout the day.

I thought this was funny at one point. Now...

I thought this was funny at one point. Now…

A while ago I slept wrong on my shoulder and when I woke up it hurt. That lasted a week. I spent days with a heating pad on it just to make it bearable, and my fiancée started looking up potential diagnoses on WebMD.[1]

But those are just physical changes. Sometimes I can convince myself my body is just falling apart due to misuse and lack of proper care.[2]

Some things, however, put my age into proper context.

Last weekend, my niece starting posting pictures of her prom. She has been alive my entire adult life, so her age is a direct reflection on how long I’ve been an adult, and that is awful.

Here’s a representative picture she posted, of her with her boyfriend.

I'm 99.9% certain she doesn't her idiot uncle's dumb blog, but there's absolutely no way I'd post actual pictures. So you get my m4d M$ Paint skillz instead.

I’m 99.9% certain she doesn’t read her idiot uncle’s dumb blog, but there’s absolutely no way I’d post actual pictures anyway. So you get my m4d M$ Paint skillz instead.

I was 100% not prepared for this kind of thing, even though it keeps happening. I was completely unprepared for her having a boyfriend. Or getting a job. Or driving. Or going to high school.

When I was a kid, adults would so often tell me I couldn’t be the age that I was, and that I was growing too fast, that it got tiring. I didn’t get it then. Everyone keeps getting older–that’s just how time works. How could it keep being so surprising to them?

I get it now. It’s only partly about the kid getting older. It’s really about the realization that you’re getting older. Your age is just a number until someone who’s supposed to be a kid is doing all those things that you remember doing, back when you felt like an adult.

Yeah, I was responsible back then,[3] but she’s still just a kid. She can’t be doing those things, because if she’s that old then I’m… old. Just plain old.

She’s also been preparing for college. She’s already met her roommate for her first year, because that’s a thing kids do now, I guess. They have Facebook groups for incoming students and they share stories and they meet beforehand. These kinds of things that are completely different from my own experiences also make me feel lost.

I'm not too far away from this, I know it.

I’m not too far away from this, I know it.

I’ve heard when you have kids, you get to experience childhood again in a way, living vicariously through them. Christmas becomes magical again, Halloween is exciting, and… other events have meaning, I guess.

But when they’re not your kid, their aging just makes you feel it. My nieces and nephews just make me grow old vicariously through them.

1. Only half said it was cancer.
2. Mostly because those things are true, regardless of how much age has to do with things.
3. No I wasn’t.

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