On a recent Sunday night, I found myself settling into bed, thinking, “That was a really nice weekend.” I thought back on what I had done in the last two days, which included three things: I made a giant pot of soup, I spent many hours cross stitching, and I watched a 5-hour long Ken Burns documentary about Prohibition.* I was hit with a sudden realization: At some point in the last few years, I have morphed into an octogenarian. When the hell did that happen?!
I’m relatively young. Young enough, at least, that it should be at least 30 years before I’m even close to the category of “old.” And yet I’m finding myself getting more and more invested in habits associated more with stereotypes of the elderly than people my own age. I say “stereotypes” here because, of course, not all old women are into handicrafts and soup and going to bed early. There are lots badass old people out there who could give us young’uns a run for our money when it comes to risk-taking, humor, and general awesomeness. And I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with watching historical documentaries or baking Bundt cakes — I mean, what’s not to love about a good Bundt cake? — but it does feel weird to realize that at some point I turned into a little old lady and didn’t notice until just now.
If you, too, have turned into an old person 50 years early, you’ll recognize these struggles:
1. When you buy shoes, your first question is “Can I wear my orthotics with these?”
True story. I have orthotics, they make my feet happy, and you will never part me from them.
2. Somewhere along the way, hangovers got a million times worse.
Seriously, what gives? You look back at what you used to regularly drink in college and cringe. Now more than a couple cocktails have you groaning in bed the next morning, feeling like the War Rig from Mad Max is barreling through your brain.
3. Saturday night approaches, and instead of thinking, “Time to party!” you settle in for a fun evening of wine and cross-stitching. Your friends don’t get it.
I’m not being ironic when I use the word “fun” here. Wine and cross-stitching are fun. It’s just hard to explain the joys of making tiny X’s with thread to people who are not similarly inclined. Or 83 years old.
4. You only want to make food that you can also freeze. Which means that, soon, 80 percent of your diet will be composed of soup.
You’re obsessed with practical kitchen habits — making stuff that will yield lots of leftovers and stocking your freezer things like soup and stews. Lots of perks here: You minimize your need to cook and go to the store, and most of the food you make doesn’t require pesky activities like chewing. Good for you.
5. Your body hurts.
You still like to exercise — but the workout that you used to bounce back from with no problem leaves you pathetically sore for days after. That initial moment of getting out of bed the day after a long hike or an intense yoga class — bones creaking and muscles screaming — makes you feel approximately 87.
6. Everyone around you is always freaking out about Kim Kardashian and Gigi Hadid, but your ultimate celebrity lady trifecta is composed of Dames Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, and Judi Dench.
Why aren’t they in all the movies? I love them so hard.
7. When you see that one of your favorite bands is in town, your first question is about whether they’re playing in a place where you can actually sit down.
No more standing up for hours in the crowd for you. It doesn’t matter who’s playing, you’re not willing to be jostled about in a suffocating crowd while strangers scream and pour beer on you. Harrumph.
8. You get way too excited about going to bed early.
I usually go to bed around midnight, but once in a while I take the opportunity to go to bed at 10 o’clock, and I get ridiculously, pathetically excited, tucking myself in and thinking about how productive I’ll be when I get up early tomorrow. (As my 20-year-old self weeps).
9. You find yourself tut-tutting kids these days when they do stupid things.
Also, you use phrases like “kids these days” to describe people who are really not that much younger than you are.
10. You have all of these stereotypically old-people qualities, but, you know, none of the wisdom or life experience.
Great things come with age: Wisdom. Maturity. Experience. You're in the awkward position of sometimes feeling like an antique, at the same time that your still figuring out how to adult. The fact that you prefer Grace and Frankie over Pretty Little Liars doesn’t mean that you’ve got your sh*t together.
* OK, I know I’m not helping my case at all here, but that documentary was actually totally fascinating, and you should watch it. If I’m going to be prematurely ancient, I’m dragging all of you down with me.