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The Blessing and Curse of Aging

I’m 25 years old, and I think about aging often. I have loved aging so far. The flexibility and freedom of my youth have allowed me to transform from one person to another within the span of only months. I have enjoyed collecting memories and experiences, both good and bad, and I’m learning more about myself and coming more into my own with each passing day.

I truly feel like I am the best version of myself, wiser and more patient and content than I was when I was younger — but at the same time, my preexisting back pain has gotten worse and more pervasive. I can no longer eat fast food without feeling like crap only a few hours later. My knees hurt when I wear the wrong shoes, and a lot of my savings go toward health care.

I try to live my life conscious of the inevitable impacts of aging. I don’t want to be ignorant of the fact that I am growing old, that the flexibility and freedom of my youth will one day dry up, and I don’t want to be left without the foundation that will make entering middle and old age (God willing) an experience I can cope with. I have been more mindful this year of my health than ever before. I prioritize mobility, strength, and endurance over maintaining a certain body type. I build my savings when I can. I put my energy into fostering genuine, long-lasting connections with my friends. I don’t drink, do drugs, or smoke.

All these decisions make me feel much better in the present and I know will have to be maintained throughout my early adulthood to benefit me in the long run. I feel hopeful that living a life conscious of the effects of aging will make my life better, but still, it scares me. In the words of my father when I told him I was working on this issue, “Aging sucks.” No matter how much preparation I do, no matter how conscious I am of my body and health, if I am given the gift of living into old age, I will lose my mobility, energy, physical capability, and, perhaps the most frightening of all, potential.

When I fear aging, I think of my grandfather, who is in his 80s and has now been retired for as long as he worked. He survived the loss of his wife of 50+ years to cancer and still says hi to her urn when he gets home. He loses friends and acquaintances regularly, he struggles to get up sometimes, and he spends almost every day the same, alone with his books — and yet, he once told me he’s never been bored a day in his life simply because he enjoys his own company.

I also think of my friend Michael, who died at 24 and will never get to experience any of that. If I had the power to give Michael the gift my grandfather was given — a full life marked by a legacy of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren; a strong relationship with himself; and a devoted, lifelong love — I would in a heartbeat. Yes, aging sucks, but what a blessing it is.

This issue is dedicated to both the blessings and the struggles of aging. It is a testament to the wisdom and living history within our elders as well as a guide to navigating the difficulties of becoming old, especially for LGBTQ seniors. I’m sure it is not easy, but here, you are not alone.