Walking home today I felt a strong sense of isolation, stuck in my thoughts of how my life will ultimately pan out. I thought about who I am today and how I am perceived. Then I thought about how I have changed. How have I changed? I suddenly felt like my old thirteen-year-old immature self who was self-conscious, unconfident and socially uncomfortable. Now at nineteen I usually feel like these aspects have diminished, but then why the sudden personality memory? We all have character traits that we dislike and want to change. Can we really escape our old ways of thinking and doing, or do they reside in the back of our minds like unseen and forgotten leftovers which have stunk up the fridge?
We always want the best for ourselves and want to been seen as our best. Could these emotional flashbacks be merely paranoia in the context of a not-so socially accepting environment, or a confirmation on our personal growth? Either way, something still feels out of step. Do we truly know how we come across outside the comfort and ideals of our Inner Self? It seems that we are living two lives, not just one; the one we know in our head, and the one that interacts with the physical world. How to find a balance and a working relationship between the two is something I’m still seeking.
I find it ironic in thinking that all of this self-discovery in our youth, all of the washing away from our old selves and finding our ‘true’ identity as adults is ripped from us once we reach a whole new old way: old age. We leave the old only to re-enter it. Working at McDonalds has helped me with my analogy. I have served hundreds of elderly people and think of them all as the same thing: “Old”, not “down-to-earth” not “fun-loving”, not “self-indulged”… just “Old”. As rude, ignorant and shallow as it sounds, sadly it’s the truth. They all come in with the same husky voices, oversized glasses and granny/ poppy outfits flashing their senior’s card and receiving a free white coffee to go with their small fries. As long as they get their free coffee they don’t make a fuss, they sit down, feed themselves and then leave (probably to go home). Its almost beyond my comprehension to think of them as individual people who have lived their lives with dreams, laughter, passion, regret, sorrow and even teen-angst. Why is it that all of this disappears and falls into one big black hole of “Old”? Its as if they’re their own species of second-class human beings who all suddenly begin to act the same, dress the same, smell the same, live the same. “Old” isn’t an age… it’s a culture.
This really worries me. We spend our whole lives working out how to be our own unique selves, only to have it ripped away from us once we reach sixty-something. Can this Warp be untwisted or is it inevitable? I want to be still seen as me, just me: Danielle! I don’t want to be classed into an obsolete stereotype where people are just waiting for you to die because you don’t make the earth as pretty as you used to. It is sick.
Do people just give up once they become old and sink back into their Inner Selves, the ones they know best and where they are most comfortable? Do they realise their horrible typecast and plainly accept it, following the mob’s coldhearted views? What happened to those diverse and lively men and women?!
The next generation of the Elderly is commencing and the question is will our Baby-Boomers put up a fight and change our wonted ways? I think we are starting to see it already: the obsessed-about-physical-youth forty to fifty something men and woman who are plastic-surgery junkies, pumping down ten daily vitamins and using those ab-blasting devices to reverse the effects of ageing. I definitely don’t won’t to became apart of this “Health and Beauty Freak” stereotype and frankly I think it is almost just as sad as being “Old” altogether, but it could very well work. It is a change, and any change from the current must be good.
I just hope my ‘Why’ Generation will learn from the mistakes that our current time’s people seem to continue to do. Today we need to stop seeing elderly people as a different breed and our current elders need to not let the youth do so, along with sustaining their self pride and worth before they fall into a negative pattern (the term “I’ve stopped growing” should cease to exist). We can also learn from the Baby-Boomer elders-to-be to see if this “Health and Beauty Freak” epidemic will actually do itself some justice, or just make the future over-sixties image worsen. We need to address what we have done wrong and fix it for everyone. I, and thousands of other youth definitely don’t want to be The Walking Dead in fifty years. We want our lives to be just as vibrant, new and exciting as they are now. We should all want to continue to develop and find ourselves, not reverse into our inner thirteen-year-olds and down further!
I’ve come to realise that its not just my old ways that I want changed. I believe the only real thing we have control over is our attitude: it is easy to change our own person; it just takes the simple steps of a decision and a process to reach the conclusion. Altering the viewpoints of millions of people isn’t as simple, but as long as we love life, love one-another and remain inspired, I don’t think anyone will become “Old” anymore… but just another person “Growing”, “Rising” and “Living”.
Danielle Sophia Raffaele