Episode 77: How to Embrace Getting Older in a Youth Obsessed Society
Episode 77: How to Embrace Getting Older in a Youth Obsessed Society
Most of us live in a world that glorifies holding onto youth for as long as we can. As we get older, we are taught to be less excited about our birthdays, hide our true age, and reflect back on our younger years with envy. But it doesn’t have to be that way! What if we can find joy and peace with every passing birthday? What if we learn to reject the notion that aging is bad and instead look at the beauty that comes with turning another year older?
Check out the Light After Trauma website for transcripts, other episodes, Alyssa’s guest appearances, and more at: www.lightaftertrauma.com
Alyssa Scolari [00:23]:
Welcome back to another episode of the Light After Trauma podcast. I’m your host, Alyssa Scolari. Happy to be here again for another episode. We are now in the new year, 2022. And I am excited for everything that we have ahead. I cannot believe this is the second year of the podcast running and it still feels like I just started it. So honestly, every episode is just such a gift.
Alyssa Scolari [00:48]:
I know that every episode I always say I’m so happy to be here, but it’s true. I am so happy to be here. Now, if you haven’t done so yet, please be sure to give us a follow on Instagram. Our handle is Light After Trauma. Have some really great posts and content there. Feel free to connect and reach out with me or reach out to me. Yeah, if you want to connect, that’s a really great way to do so, is through my Instagram. Also, a reminder that we have a Patreon for the podcast that you can go ahead and find in the show notes.
Alyssa Scolari [01:20]:
If you are able to give even one, two, $3 a month, it would help so, so much to help keep this podcast running and to be able to continue to put out content for you guys. Does cost quite a bit to put this podcast together and get episodes for you every week. It runs about $800 a month. So thank you to the Patreons that we have so far. Appreciate you, love you so much. I love you all, whether you are able to give or not. At the end of the day, the goal is to be able to provide free mental health support for people who need it.
Alyssa Scolari [01:57]:
So if you can’t, give no worries. But if you can, Hey, we’d really appreciate it. Even if it’s just a one time thing and not a monthly thing. Whatever you can give goes such a long way in helping to ultimately keep this podcast running. And if you can’t give financially, that is totally fine. If you still want to give, you can always do so by leaving a review for the podcast. Ratings and reviews are what help the podcast to grow and to get even more… To be seen by more people. And that is of course, the goal. We want as many people as possible to know that this type of support is available for them. So thank you.
Alyssa Scolari [02:42]:
On my end, on a personal note, I am hanging in there. I know many of you have reached out to give me well wishes. I unfortunately am just coming off of a seven day bender of absolute agony from the suspected endometriosis. Again, if this is all new to you my doctors are thinking that I have endometriosis. I have surgery scheduled for January 27th, and I’m really, really nervous because of the Omicron surge.
Alyssa Scolari [03:16]:
There’s a possibility my surgery might get canceled. They’ve already canceled the first two weeks of January, all the surgeries have already been canceled. So if these numbers don’t start to fall in terms of the cases, I am suspecting that my surgery is going to get canceled, which honestly, I can’t even begin to process that. Because if you have listened to my episode, a few episodes ago, I did one about my struggle with endometriosis. And if you listened to it, then you know that it has been anything but easy. And this is by far the most difficult time of my life.
Alyssa Scolari [03:57]:
So I’m going to be absolutely devastated if it gets canceled and so beyond frustrated, because I have been in a ton of pain. I am so sick of doctors not taking my pain seriously. It’s just been such a nightmare. So keep your fingers crossed and please send all of the well and the prayers and the healing vibes, because we need it. People really have been so good to us. I know that I, about a month ago or so, I’d say I put up that episode about my struggle with endometriosis. And I’ve been struggling for probably eight months and just have, haven’t been ready to share.
Alyssa Scolari [04:42]:
And this past week, I also shared it on my personal social media to be able to ask for prayers and help and support. And everybody has been so good to me in terms of helping. And my in-laws have sent us gift cards for food. And people have just been really, really helpful because unfortunately I’m not really able to work a whole lot. I’ve had to cut down my work quite a bit because I’m just so sick right now. So there’s a little update. We are hoping, wishing, praying that I am able to get my surgery in two and a half weeks.
Alyssa Scolari [05:27]:
Fingers crossed people, fingers crossed. And so today we’re going to be talking about aging and getting older. And this topic is always relevant, but it’s especially relevant for me because on Thursday, January 6th, I turned 30 and I launched into a new decade. Now, I’ve always been a big birthday girl, love birthdays, love my birthday, love other people’s birthdays. My parents always made me feel really special during my birthday.
Alyssa Scolari [06:06]:
It was never something that was just looked over. So birthdays were pretty big for me. And I’ve never had a birthday that I just didn’t want to sell until this year. And it’s not because I was afraid of the number 30, because I really wasn’t. In fact, I’ve actually been looking forward to 30 and embracing the new decade. I think because a lot of studies show that your thirties are the decade, which provide the most happiness. People report loving their thirties the most when they look back on their lives. But also, I don’t know, I’ve just always felt like this was going to be a really, really great decade for me.
Alyssa Scolari [06:53]:
And I still feel that way, but when I tell you I was absolutely dreading my birthday. And I think it’s because I never, in a million years could imagine that I would’ve turned 30 in such a state of being weak and fatigued and in pain. I was in pain pretty much all day on my birthday. And my quality of life is so poor. Because of my surgery, we really weren’t able to go anywhere or do anything because we are isolating because we can’t get COVID. I can’t risk having my surgery be canceled. So we’ve been really just hanging out with just my husband and myself and our dogs.
Alyssa Scolari [07:43]:
And as a result, we really weren’t able to do anything at all. And I was in pain all day because I had another flare for my, again, suspected endometriosis. The surgery will confirm. But I had another flare and I was in so much pain, screaming, throwing up for days on end. And then because of all of the intense pain, I have had stomach issues. And it’s been pretty shitty. So I think for those who are reasons, I wasn’t looking forward to my birthday. I wasn’t ready for it.
Alyssa Scolari [08:23]:
It just, wasn’t how I pictured turning 30. Honestly, we were planning on going on vacation for our birthdays. David’s birthday is four days before mine. So his birthday’s January second. And we were actually planning on waking up in Disney World. And that would’ve been a great way to celebrate 30, but instead I woke up in pain after barely sleeping all night. And as soon as I opened my eyes and saw that it was my birthday or remembered it was my birthday, I sobbed. And I pretty much cried all day long. And I’ve done a lot of reflecting.
Alyssa Scolari [09:11]:
And I think the emotion that came up the most for me was like I said, just grief over not being where I thought I would be in my life. I thought I would be so much better and healing and able to enjoy life. And right now, I’m kind of just surviving. But it got me thinking about how many people struggle, chronic illness aside, endometriosis aside, it really got me thinking about how many people struggle with getting older.
Alyssa Scolari [09:55]:
And listen, some of you might be listening to this and you’re probably thinking, if you’re not my age, then you’re thinking one of two things. You are either younger than me, and you’re thinking, holy shit, 30 is so old. Or you’re older than me and you’re thinking, what is she talking about, 30 is literally so young. So honestly, at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how old you are because there are always going to be people that think you’re old.
Alyssa Scolari [10:26]:
And then there are always going to be people that think you’re young. Even when you’re 70, talk to a 90 year old and they think you’re a spring chicken. So aging is just, it’s such a fascinating concept. And so many people get so stressed out over it. And I think, or at least I’ve witnessed in my, both my personal recovery and my professional life. My professional career, I’ve witnessed trauma survivors having a much more goal time with aging. And I think that this is partially because we already feel like we’ve lost so much time due to our trauma.
Alyssa Scolari [11:09]:
So much has already been taken from us that growing older, we’re, no, where is the time going? And the clock is running out. And we’re also afraid to grow older because we’ve already been so traumatized that we don’t know what trauma waits for us in the future, because unfortunately, life can be full of traumatic moments. Sometimes life is full of amazing and incredible moments as well, but life can also be full of traumatic moments. And I think that’s also part of the reason people get so afraid, trauma survivors in particular. But as a whole, society really has an issue with aging.
Alyssa Scolari [11:55]:
And whether you have a trauma history or not, all of that aside, it’s partially, and mostly because of how much we glorify youth. And I won’t even say glorify, we obsess. We, dare I say, fetishize it. And I am using that word because I believe that we do. I’ve seen it, right? Especially when it comes to women. Right, men get older and we talk about having… The trendy thing is having a hot dad bod. But women aren’t called sexy for their mom bods. No men are called sexy, right? George Clooney, is how old is he?
Alyssa Scolari [12:45]:
But he’s the sexiest man alive. But how often do we see older women being called sexy? We really don’t. So there’s definitely a huge bias there when it comes to men versus women. Women are definitely not allowed to age. Women are expected to be, and this is why I say fetishize, because women are expected to sort of look like a pre-pubescent girl at all times, which is no fat on their bodies, really narrow hips, zero body hair whatsoever.
Alyssa Scolari [13:22]:
Things like that. Women are expected to have these features that we only really have pre-puberty. So that’s definitely a huge part of it. Our society is obsessed with youth and chasing youth. And the ageism is real. And I don’t feel like ageism gets nearly enough attention. It is rooted in almost everything. Ageism doesn’t get attention because there are other issues happening, right? I think a lot of people feel like, well, we have bigger fish to fry. But we really don’t do a very good job at taking care of our elderly.
Alyssa Scolari [14:03]:
In other cultures, in many cultures, getting old is a privilege. Being old is something to celebrate, but not necessarily in, definitely not in the United States. Not sure what country you are in when you’re listening to this. I live in the United States and getting old is just something to freak out about all of the time. And I hear it everywhere I go. People are, especially from this past birthday that I had. People will text me and be, “Oh my God, can you believe you’re 30? When did you get that old?”
Alyssa Scolari [14:43]:
Or, “Has the real world set in for you?” Or just things like that, that sort of hint at this fact that I should be anxious or worried about being 30 or people will always say, “Ugh.” this is one of my favorites, right? “Don’t get old kid. Don’t get old.” People would say that to me all the time or another personal favorite. And this is something that I find parents often say to their children, not all parents, but a lot of parents say, “You don’t know how good you have it as a kid.”
Alyssa Scolari [15:21]:
And again, right? We are glorifying childhood. But even in that sentence alone, we are telling children and we are telling people that getting older is a horrible thing. Being older is a horrible thing. Honestly, though, I don’t see it that way. You could not pay me to be a kid again. And it’s not because of my trauma history. I mean, maybe it is on some subconscious level, but I don’t really think it is. Look at how hard it is to be a kid. You really don’t know anything about the world.
Alyssa Scolari [16:00]:
You’re dependent on everybody. You have to go to school every single day. You got to wake up early. You have to go to school and you have to sit there and you have to listen to shit that you probably don’t like. Could you imagine as an adult listening to this, having to go to social studies class every day, if you absolutely hate social studies or geometry class? Fuck no. Kids have to sit there all day. Then they have to come home. Then they have to do hours worth of homework.
Alyssa Scolari [16:29]:
And I’m referring to, I guess, maybe teenagers, but they also have to figure out where they fit in, in the social jungle that is high school or middle school or even elementary school. Because elementary school is no walk in the park these days either. With social media kids know way, way more. They’re very advanced and bullying starts at a really young age. Kids have to figure all of this out. And they care so much about what other people think. It is a really hard thing to be a kid. I am loving being an adult, right? Yes. I have to make my own money. I can’t depend on anybody for anything.
Alyssa Scolari [17:13]:
But with that also comes this sense of freedom and excitement that my life is mine to make. Yes, it’s scary. But I’m the one in control here for the most part. Obviously, the universe is in control, but I have much more of a say in how my life goes. I don’t have to see people I don’t like. I don’t have to spend time with people I don’t like. I can buy what I want. I can go where I want. If I’m having a bad day, I can get in the car and leave. Kids can’t do that. So you couldn’t pay me to go back and be a kid. It was a nightmare to be a child.
Alyssa Scolari [17:51]:
And with every year that I’ve gotten older, I have appreciated myself more and more and more. And I have given less and less of a shit about what other people think. I trust myself more. I become better able to manage my emotions instead of lashing out at people. I become more mature. I develop a lot more wisdom. So yeah, I can probably never do a Cartwheel again. I don’t know that my back would allow that. But honestly, that’s fine. I don’t need to do a Cartwheel because I can make my life exactly what I wanted. And that’s such a beautiful thing when it comes to aging. Now, a lot of people also freak out about their body changing, their metabolism changing as they age.
Alyssa Scolari [18:59]:
All of that stuff is fine, is normal. I actually don’t know the science about if your metabolism really does change a whole lot as you get older. I really don’t know the answer to that, but it doesn’t matter because this is what our bodies are supposed to do. And it’s our job to lean into that. It’s our job to trust that, not to fight it. But that’s what our society says we need to do. So, so much of embracing aging is really changing your mindset and noticing what is ageism.
Alyssa Scolari [19:38]:
What is discrimination against people who are getting older. Now again, 30 year olds really aren’t getting discriminated against, but I’m talking about people of all ages. Another way that we can help to embrace the aging process, I believe is by looking it right in the face. I know people like to say things like, “Oh, once I hit 30 years old, I stopped counting numbers” or, “Oh, once you hit 30, you really don’t celebrate your birthdays anymore.” And I say, [inaudible 00:20:15] it is a privilege to turn another number, no matter what that number is. Look it right in the face. Because the more we run from something, the more likely it is to catch up with us and bite us in the ass.
Alyssa Scolari [20:30]:
Look your age in the face. See what emotions are coming up for you. Are those emotions that you’re feeling rooted in your own internalized ageism? Is there something that you wanted to do last year that you didn’t get to do, and is that why you’re hesitant to turn a new age this year? Stare it in the face and know that it is such an honor to be the age that you are at. Not everybody gets to live as long as you have, no matter what your age is. I think that doing that has been really, really helpful for me. I have never been one to be ashamed of or hide my age. And I have found that that helps so much.
Alyssa Scolari [21:23]:
So even when I was having a lot of big feelings about turning 30, I had to reflect and really try to understand, okay, what has me so upset? And after a lot of deep reflection, I realized that I truly think it’s because of all this pain that I’m in. Because I never pictured myself turning 30 and feeling so sick. That’s what I think has done it for me. Now, here’s another thing that I would recommend, that I think is really helpful. Look at the people around you or the icons in your world. Listen, a lot of people have hit fame and glory and become TikTok famous, Instagram, famous, singers. What have you, when they were young.
Alyssa Scolari [22:15]:
But look at people like Betty White, may she rest in peace. I think her last film was the Proposal with Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock. And she was in her eighties. And when I look at people like that, I really start to feel so much more accepting of my own aging process. Because if Betty wasn’t in her eighties or seventies or whatever, she would’ve never been so perfect for that role. As she got older, she fit into different roles in her life that just made her. Or I’m sorry, I should say different roles in TV, in movies.
Alyssa Scolari [23:04]:
And she was perfect because of her age. And I like to think of that as really a metaphor for us. As we get older, we become more suitable to take on different roles, whether that looks like a parent, whether that looks like foster parents, whether that looks like volunteering, whether that looks like opening up your own charity, starting your own charity or foundation, whatever that may look like, writing a book, getting a different career.
Alyssa Scolari [23:36]:
I don’t know many people who became super, and I’m not talking about Hollywood type people, I’m talking about just regular folks. I don’t know that many people who figured out the answers to everything and became super successful and rich all before they were 35. I mean, I just don’t. So there’s so many things to think about when it comes to this aging process that, hey, you know what? Aging might not be a bad thing. Aging means wisdom.
Alyssa Scolari [24:07]:
Aging means more success. Aging means more opportunities to continue to do different things in your life. There’s so much to look forward to at all of the stages. I think about the opportunity to be a grand mom. Could you imagine how cool must that be to get to hang out with babies and then give them back? I can’t wait. I can’t wait to be a grand mom. That sounds amazing. I can’t wait to be retired and have nothing to do, but sit around and knit or rent an RV and go travel all of the states in the country. It sounds amazing. Can I do that now at 30? No, I have responsibilities. I have to work. I don’t have, nearly enough money seemed up for retirement, but I can’t wait for that day.
Alyssa Scolari [25:03]:
I mean, I can and I can’t, right? Because every age of life I think brings such gifts and they’re unique gifts. And I have gifts to discover with every passing day. And so do you. So I want you to please try to remember that. And now, of course, when it comes to the physical signs of aging, listen, that’s something that we can’t control. I mean, we can, to some degree with Botox and fillers and all of these things. And if that’s something that you want to do, go for it, absolutely go for it. At the end of the day, though, the aging process that I’m referring to and being able to embrace it is more of about internal than external. Yes. You know what? Our skin is going to sag. It’s going to sag.
Alyssa Scolari [25:55]:
Our boobs are going to sag. Our butts are going to sag, whatever. We’re just going to sag, but that’s okay. It’s okay. Because at the end of the day, we are all souls living in a meat sack. That is what I call our skin and our organs, a meat sack. That meat sack doesn’t mean much. So let it get old. Honestly, it’s a sign. It’s a sign that you’ve done a lot with your life. Let it get old and embrace that and kick ageism in the ass. Because you, especially, if you are a trauma survivor, you’ve already had so much taken from you, do not let society’s ageism take away the joys of aging because there’s so much happiness to be found there.
Alyssa Scolari [26:48]:
So I hope this was helpful. Again, I know so many people really struggle about getting older and I, myself struggle at times. This isn’t the most difficult thing for me simply because I’ve had to do a lot of internal reflection and I’ve really come to a place where I am okay with aging. Now, granted I am 30, which is semi-young to most people I’d say. So, I mean, ask me again in 20, 30 years.
Alyssa Scolari [27:21]:
And I don’t know, maybe I’ll be absolutely in a panic. But I do know that some of what I’m saying, there is some wisdom to be had in this conversation. Because I even see it with some of my, my clients. I see a lot of clients who are younger than they ask me how old I am or if my age comes up in the conversation, they’re, “Holy shit. You’re 29 or 30. Are you afraid?” And they’re what 18, 19. And I’m, “No, I’m not afraid.” They look at me like, I’m ancient. So I know that this definitely has relevancy. And I hope that this is helpful for you. Have a wonderful, wonderful week. I am holding you in the light and we will be back next week. Take care. I love you all.
Alyssa Scolari [28:17]:
Thanks for listening, everyone. For more information, please head over to lightaftertrauma.com or you can also follow us on social media. On Instagram, we are at Light After Trauma. And on Twitter, it is at Light After Pod. Lastly, please head over to Patreon.com/lightaftertrauma to support our show. We are asking for $5 a month, which is the equivalent to a cup of coffee at Starbucks. So please head on over. Again, that’s Patreon.com/lightaftertrauma. Thank you. And we appreciate your support.