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On Aging

Last Fall (2013), I took a class titled “Perspectives in Medical Humanities”. As I walked into class one day, the professor declared a 10-minute quiz. That wasn’t unusual but the question was; it wasn’t our typical “What did XYZ say” or “What does this mean for medical practice” quiz. She completely spun the reading on us. Here’s my original submission. Someone got an A! 🙂
How do you feel about yourself growing old?

Last week, I decided to peruse my old pictures from freshman year. What I saw shocked me. There I was – a young, unstressed, full-cheeked and healthy-looking human. I stared at myself in the mirror and tried to find a resemblance but I could not figure out what exactly had changed about my face; I know my body had gotten thinner. This was scary. I almost cried. Where had my youthfulness gone?

Three years of toiling in college had made me unaware of the changes that were occurring on me physically and although this aging has nothing to do with pathology or morbidity, the reality that this is going to continue happening scares me. Aging as a whole is terrifying to me. Why can’t we remain young and agile forever with our age increasing in number of course? And although I wish we could not age physically and lose or experience deterioration of our body’s organs, I do not think it is wise to deliberately prolong one’s lifespan.

I see a beauty in aging. The gray hair, the droopy eyes, the frail skin and feebleness all signify that one has reached the apex of life and/or living. Of course, this is much too frequently altered by diseases. And as I am growing older, I can only imagine what it would feel like to get to that apex. I think it is a good thing that I went through my old pictures because though I was terrified at the change, it made me realize that aging is inevitable and all humans must go through this process.

As I age, I hope to age gracefully and I hope I make lifestyle choices now that will not negatively impact my aging process. I hope that once in a while, I can stop to smell the flowers, to smile at people and to enjoy life because the one thing that terrified me the most when I compared my pre-freshman year pictures to myself now was that I had not been taking care of myself. I do not want to be in my 80’s and look back at my youthful self with regret. As much as I want to succeed in life, I have made the decision to take proper care of myself and enjoy the company of people because by doing that, aging will not be jolting. And if disease decides to set in, as far as I did my part with lifestyle choices, then so be it.

In retrospect, I solemnly take that last line back. Nooooooo! 

  • Comments ( 16 )

  • avatar

    Great answer. Definitely deserves an A!
    Although it’s very easy to go by what you see, understand that the aging process is not just a physical one. It involves various aspects of one’s life. As I “age” (and I use that term very loosely…lol), I have come to realize that life experiences have taught me a lot, including how I perceive my “aging” physique. For one, childbirth has definitely done a number on my body. From stretch marks to sagging mammary glands, there are so many things that are different than they were only 5 years ago. But even with all those physical differences, my “aging” mind now understands how to assimilate and process the picture that my eyes see as part of a positive experience. And several years from now, when I see young women in their “prime” strutting the runways of Miss Universe, I want to look back with a smile, and think, “Yes, I, too, was once young, and now I am old, I am content with my life (and my body). And I won’t trade it for the world.”

    As for my stretch marks, I like to think of it as a tiger who has earned her stripes.

  • avatar

    Great answer. Definitely deserves an A!
    Although it’s very easy to go by what you see, understand that the aging process is not just a physical one. It involves various aspects of one’s life. As I “age” (and I use that term very loosely…lol), I have come to realize that life experiences have taught me a lot, including how I perceive my “aging” physique. For one, childbirth has definitely done a number on my body. From stretch marks to sagging mammary glands, there are so many things that are different than they were only 5 years ago. But even with all those physical differences, my “aging” mind now understands how to assimilate and process the picture that my eyes see as part of a positive experience. And several years from now, when I see young women in their “prime” strutting the runways of Miss Universe, I want to look back with a smile, and think, “Yes, I, too, was once young, and now I am old, I am content with my life (and my body). And I won’t trade it for the world.”

    As for my stretch marks, I like to think of it as a tiger who has earned her stripes.

  • avatar

    Great answer. Definitely deserves an A!
    Although it’s very easy to go by what you see, understand that the aging process is not just a physical one. It involves various aspects of one’s life. As I “age” (and I use that term very loosely…lol), I have come to realize that life experiences have taught me a lot, including how I perceive my “aging” physique. For one, childbirth has definitely done a number on my body. From stretch marks to sagging mammary glands, there are so many things that are different than they were only 5 years ago. But even with all those physical differences, my “aging” mind now understands how to assimilate and process the picture that my eyes see as part of a positive experience. And several years from now, when I see young women in their “prime” strutting the runways of Miss Universe, I want to look back with a smile, and think, “Yes, I, too, was once young, and now I am old, I am content with my life (and my body). And I won’t trade it for the world.”

    As for my stretch marks, I like to think of it as a tiger who has earned her stripes.

  • avatar

    Great answer. Definitely deserves an A!
    Although it’s very easy to go by what you see, understand that the aging process is not just a physical one. It involves various aspects of one’s life. As I “age” (and I use that term very loosely…lol), I have come to realize that life experiences have taught me a lot, including how I perceive my “aging” physique. For one, childbirth has definitely done a number on my body. From stretch marks to sagging mammary glands, there are so many things that are different than they were only 5 years ago. But even with all those physical differences, my “aging” mind now understands how to assimilate and process the picture that my eyes see as part of a positive experience. And several years from now, when I see young women in their “prime” strutting the runways of Miss Universe, I want to look back with a smile, and think, “Yes, I, too, was once young, and now I am old, I am content with my life (and my body). And I won’t trade it for the world.”

    As for my stretch marks, I like to think of it as a tiger who has earned her stripes.

  • avatar

    Woooowwww! That was so beautifully written, Chinelo!. Your last line was everything!!! I’m happy this piece resonated well with you. & no, you’re not aging physically at all. You look younger everyday ;)Thank you for reading and sharing your experience.

  • avatar

    Woooowwww! That was so beautifully written, Chinelo!. Your last line was everything!!! I’m happy this piece resonated well with you. & no, you’re not aging physically at all. You look younger everyday ;)Thank you for reading and sharing your experience.

  • avatar

    Woooowwww! That was so beautifully written, Chinelo!. Your last line was everything!!! I’m happy this piece resonated well with you. & no, you’re not aging physically at all. You look younger everyday ;)Thank you for reading and sharing your experience.

  • avatar

    Woooowwww! That was so beautifully written, Chinelo!. Your last line was everything!!! I’m happy this piece resonated well with you. & no, you’re not aging physically at all. You look younger everyday ;)Thank you for reading and sharing your experience.

  • avatar

    ojay_d1@hotmail.com

    Wow now I see why you got the A..truly deserved!.I love your writing style, I must say. The way you weave words so smoothly and confidently is truly beautiful..keep rocking girl. You just gained a fan..lol.

    • avatar

      Oh thank you so much!!! Your comment is really encouraging & I hope to get better so I can keep you around longer. 🙂

  • avatar

    ojay_d1@hotmail.com

    Wow now I see why you got the A..truly deserved!.I love your writing style, I must say. The way you weave words so smoothly and confidently is truly beautiful..keep rocking girl. You just gained a fan..lol.

    • avatar

      Oh thank you so much!!! Your comment is really encouraging & I hope to get better so I can keep you around longer. 🙂

  • avatar

    ojay_d1@hotmail.com

    Wow now I see why you got the A..truly deserved!.I love your writing style, I must say. The way you weave words so smoothly and confidently is truly beautiful..keep rocking girl. You just gained a fan..lol.

    • avatar

      Oh thank you so much!!! Your comment is really encouraging & I hope to get better so I can keep you around longer. 🙂

  • avatar

    ojay_d1@hotmail.com

    Wow now I see why you got the A..truly deserved!.I love your writing style, I must say. The way you weave words so smoothly and confidently is truly beautiful..keep rocking girl. You just gained a fan..lol.

    • avatar

      Oh thank you so much!!! Your comment is really encouraging & I hope to get better so I can keep you around longer. 🙂

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