Growing older is a gift

Growing older is the best thing that happened to me. There’s something wonderful about it, something amazingly freeing. It has taken away my self-consciousness, removing the pressure of fitting in and looking good, making me comfortable in my skin, more comfortable with my ‘fat’. Yes, I said it – the F word.

Finally now, in this fifth decade of my life, I truly want to exercise just to be fit. Only someone who has lived with fat since childhood will understand the wonder and enormity of this epiphany.

In this month devoted to women, we are talking about how we have changed/grown as women.

I find it hard to write about myself. That’s ironic given the amount of time I (all of us, actually) spend thinking about myself – what I want, what I like, what I’m doing.

There’s the danger of turning out a self-indulgent piece that should ideally remain in the pages of one’s journal. So, I’m treading with caution here and I’ll try to keep it short.

….would be the time I came to work in Bombay and then, more than a decade later, when I became a mom.

Though I had worked in Delhi for a while, that remained an extension of my hometown — familiar and comfortable. It was Bombay, tough and unforgiving yet assimilative, that taught me the ropes of navigating independence.

Later when the twins came along they pushed me to become a better version of myself. You have no option, really, with two extremely impressionable and observant humans watching you, copying you, lying in wait to catch you out and say, ‘….but you never do this’ or ‘…but you always do this’.

And so here are six things the older me has embraced.

Never have I analysed myself so clearly, been so acutely aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I used to think of myself as sane and practical, which I am, but I can also be quiet and moody (which is not how I used to think of myself) as well as fun and crazy — with different sets of people. While I am very aware of my weaknesses I still need to try harder to believe in my strengths.

Well obviously! If there’s one thing children teach you, it’s patience. And twins do that twice as well.

I am not naturally adventurous and it takes a fair bit of will-power each time I step into unfamiliar territory. However living in multiple cities and interacting with a range of people has helped. And of course H and N. From enjoying new kinds of films, books and music to volunteering and stepping out for events, hosting book meets and conducting sessions – I’ve had fun.

Perhaps because I have learnt to let down my guard, I am less wary of people. With fewer but clearer limits I no longer need to shut out all strangers. I quite enjoy talking to them and listening to their stories.

It was only after H and N that I truly learnt to appreciate the warmth of a genuine hug and now it’s become instinctive. Isn’t it the best way to express affection?

I no longer wait for momentous events. One can only have a handful of them in a lifetime. It sounds cliched but it’s the truth — I consciously, mindfully (another over-used word) find happiness in the little things. Mundane conversations with children, meeting up with friends, trying new clothes, watching Harry Potter with N, small treats, silly jokes — all of that make me happy.

I’m certainly a happier person, than I was in my younger days, more content. I believe that’s true for a lot of women. We go from being carefree youngsters to careworn adolescents and the anxiety never really leaves us.

Being constantly cautioned about the big bad world out there doesn’t help, either. Those warnings are necessary for survival and come from a place of concern. However, they result in us holding ourselves back, being on our guard, doubting people’s intentions all the time. We don’t even notice how exhausting that is.

Age can set us free, provided we allow it to work its magic.

So share with me – how is the older you different from your younger version?


I am writing at the BAR for the prompt ‘How have you grown/changed as a woman?’

2 Replies to “Growing older is a gift”

  1. Pursuing a physical activity or exercise with overall fitness in mind and not weight loss is a liberating thought. This intention has worked very well for me. I have been considering the accompanying weight loss as a bonus. I have been losing 1 kg a month over the last 6 months and I am perfectly happy with this because the good health of my knees and shoulder joints matter more to me.
    There has been something on my mind for quite some time and when I read it here in your post, I felt like being understood. It is the anxiety of constantly keeping a vigil around me for anything which can adversely affect my safety. It is so exhausting. I wonder what all can I (or the women) do and achieve if this exhaustion of fear and vigilance does not exist at all in this world.

    1. Exactly Anamika. Not only is it exhausting but also keeps us from making valuable human connections. Which is why growing older makes me feel so much more free. As a parent to a daughter, I struggle to strike a balance, trying to caution her without inhibiting her.

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