UPDATE : 2021.6.7 Mon 08:54
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Going downhill
A female student who is usually active and cheerful was suddenly quiet and sullen during class one day. She seemed withdrawn and rather cross. When asked why, she told me that it was her birthday that day. Dumbfounded, I asked her why she wasn’t happy about it and she told me that there’s nothing happy about turning 25. She said that she felt really old at 25. At that moment, I had a strong urge to whack her on the head with a sledgehammer! I mean, really?! She feels old at 25?!

In another instance, I ran into a former student of mine one afternoon. He was in middle school when I taught him -- he is now in his senior year in college. Wow. Time really does fly. After talking with him, I suddenly felt old. My body began to ache. I started walking with a noticeable limp while making comments about the abnormally high level of uric acid in my blood. I started to panic about my gray hair. This is it! My body is breaking down one hair follicle at a time! This is insane.

So when do people start feeling old? I asked a few friends and here are some answers I got. You know you’re getting older when you feel you’ve used up all your youthfulness and lack the energy to even get out of bed. Sometimes, your memory is a bit hazy, but I think for me that happened when I was about 7. People start calling you “Ma’am” or “Sir”, you get aches walking up the stairs, you value sleep over everything else, stiff joints in the morning, reading glasses, bags under the eyes, wrinkles. Yes, you know you’re getting older. And it’s going downhill from here.

Doctors tell us that when you hit a certain age (around thirty, for most of us), you have to slow it down because your body can’t perform at levels you did 10 years ago and an injury takes longer to heal. Unfortunately, we can’t stay a vibrant twenty-something forever. Eventually, we’re forced to grow up and grow old. However, there is a chance that your life could start going downhill at any age. I’ve seen old 25 year-olds and young 60 year-olds. Age is an attitude. Age doesn’t really matter unless you’re a bottle of wine. Age doesn’t have any bearing on how you feel. You are as old as you feel. The mind is much younger than the body it lives in. If you have a negative outlook on life and don’t choose to change it, you will be old. If you take care of your body and have a positive attitude, you will feel better and will likely live longer.

We shouldn’t feel bad about getting older. So what if your once lush hair is going away to a lifeless gray? So what if the only whistles you get are from a teakettle? Who cares if you need to get a fire permit to light all your birthday candles? Just accept the inevitable and learn to look at things in a more positive light. Be a boon, not a bane, to those around you, and your life will never go downhill for as long as you live.

Cecile Hwang  media@changwon.ac.kr

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