“We’re pushing forty, you know,” said one of my best friends, very matter-of-factly, when we were celebrating my thirty-second birthday in Amsterdam.
While she may have been halfheartedly joking, those words did stay with me, even six years later, where I can decidedly say I am pushing forty—without any hint of sarcasm.
Although I realize I may be in the minority here, I really don’t mind getting older. Even when I was a little girl, I always wanted to be one of the adults. I remember sitting around with my parents’ friends and preferring to have deep discussions with them, rather than my peers. I suppose it’s no big surprise that I’ve looked at aging through a positive lens—not one filled with angst and regret but one filled with zen-like calm and fondness.
This is not to say I don’t find myself occasionally fixated on the physical signs of aging (those little pesky forehead lines that Botox miraculously helps with or those random chin hairs that seemingly come from nowhere) but what I don’t fixate on is the fact that I’ve now lived more than a third of my life (if we’re assuming I make it to the ripe age of ninety) and that all my best days are decidedly behind me. In fact, I’d argue it’s just the opposite.
Without further ado, here’s a short but sweet list of all the things I genuinely like about getting older.
No more FOMO
When I was single and in my twenties, I was the very definition of a social butterfly—especially in my NYC days. I said yes to practically every and any invitation that came my way—even if I knew I had to be up for work the next day. These days? I’d rather have a cozy evening with friends or my husband, enjoy one drink, and get my eight to nine hours of beauty sleep.
At my age, peer pressure just isn’t a thing—and that’s such a freeing feeling. I truly don’t feel like I’m missing out if I decide to say no to something. I simply listen to my gut and if it tells me to opt out, I do—no regrets. (Luckily, when you have friends in a similar age range, I’ve found almost everyone is cool with you saying “no” to things, since they’ll also do the same.)
Speaking of friendships, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown a hell of a lot more confident in my choices, especially when it comes to my friends.
I used to think that the more friends I had, the better. Aging has helped me realize that it’s actually the quality of my friendships, not the quantity, that really matters. Although I am admittedly that person who enjoys keeping in touch with people who once meant something to me (yes, this even includes a few former flames), this doesn’t mean I consider them in my inner circle where I share my innermost thoughts and feelings.
With age, I’ve thankfully been able to weed out any friends who were self-serving, unreliable, and downright toxic. I’ve, instead, consciously welcomed others who intellectually challenge me, nourish my soul, and have my back when I need it most. Our time on this earth is precious so why waste it on people who don’t genuinely care for you and your well-being?
It’s also worth noting that some of my very best friends are ones I’ve made in the last five to ten years. These friendships often feel more authentic as I met them at a time in my life when I had grown into myself and become able to recognize my strengths and weaknesses.
Self-care is not selfish care
One of the best parts of getting older, I’ve found, is learning how to slow down and appreciate the present. At twenty-five, I certainly didn’t adhere to this. I was always chasing after the next shiny thing—worried that if I slowed down, the whole world would stop.
The funny thing is, as soon as I started to slow down and embrace the quieter moments in life, the more alive I felt. Taking time for “me,” whether that was going for a long walk alone or having an impromptu spa session, suddenly didn’t feel selfish—it felt selfless.
I may not be perfect at self-care but age has taught me it’s so important to practice. Doing so means you show up for your partner, your friendships, your job, and most importantly—yourself.
And even though Bette Davis once famously said, “Getting old ain’t for sissies,” I do think there’s a certain grace and humility that comes from aging—a realization that you don’t have it all figured out, and that’s OK. You’re far more comfortable with who you are as a human being that it makes life all the more worth living.
As a born-and-bred American who now resides in Germany, Erin is a freelance writer with over 10 years of copywriting experience from her time in Stockholm, Sweden, and New York City. A self-professed storyteller with a serious case of wanderlust, she has a penchant for all things fashion, film, food, and travel.