It’s Kinda Tough Getting Older

by Susan Pogorzelski on April 26, 2010 · 25 comments

Here before my eyes, many roads ahead
Time for me to choose one way now
If I take a chance, what lies down the road?
Feeling so confused, turned around…

Colbie Caillat, “Older”

You’re six years old and playing in the sandbox that lies at the edge of the property at your best friend’s house. Plastic buckets, shovels, sieves, and trucks litter the ground as the two of you work diligently at building the perfect castle, creating moats and roads — mapping out a life that isn’t yours, though you can imagine it so vividly, can see how the story is supposed to go.

You dip your hand into the sand, and when you lift it out, it trickles down your tiny tanned arm. You grin as you spread your fingers and watch the grains fall loose, never realizing in your youthful innocence how easily something can slip through your fingers.

* * * * *

You’re eleven years old and riding your bicycle back from a friend’s house, frantic to find your parents to ask an all-important question: your friends are all going to see a new movie that’s playing in the theater downtown and you want to go, too. Because what would that mean if you missed out? You’re a part of that group; after all, they’re your friends.

A phone call later and you’ve realized they’ve left without you. Forgotten. You hold back hot tears, remind yourself that you’re too old to cry, but a sob escapes you and you rush into your mom’s arms. The hurt feels so deep, but you can’t put into words what it means. You’re too young to know what loneliness feels like.

* * * * *

You’re seventeen years old and meeting with your guidance counselor. What are your interests, what’s your budget, how are your grades, what size classes do you prefer?  How far do you want to be from home. She types in your answers, and as the program calculates your best-fit college choices, the only thought you have is of home and your family and your boyfriend and friends and how, in a year’s time, you’ll have to leave it all behind.

You walk away with the choices in your hand, a decision that you’re not ready to make, knowing your life is going to change, not certain that you’re ready for it. There’s safety in those halls and comfort in the classrooms and people that you’ve come to know so well. For the first time in your young adult life, you feel the weight of time clinging to you. It’s the first time — not the last — that you ever wished you could go back to something more simple, to freeze a moment, to have life remain just as it is.

* * * * *

You’re twenty-two years old and waiting your turn in line. A wink from one of your favorite professors, a nod of encouragement from another. Your name. A handshake. A diploma. As you see your dad snapping pictures and look to the stands to find your family, as you hug friends and pose for pictures, a feeling not-altogether new bubbles up inside of you and makes your eyes shine with emotion. Pride. Gratitude. Purpose. You know where you’re going and who you’re becoming. You’re an adult now — isn’t that what this means? You’re ready for it, you’ve prepared for it, you’re eager for an entire future that lies ahead, just waiting for you.

You never stop to think that life can turn out so differently than what you have planned.

* * * * *

Twenty-six years old now. You’re driving in your car on an open highway, the radio playing a melancholy tune. You look in the rearview mirror and see the place from where you’ve just come and up ahead you can see clearly where you want to go. You think back to all you’ve learned along this way, all you’ve experienced, all you’ve felt. You know what it’s like to let things slip through your fingers. You know what it feels like to be alone…And not alone. You understand indecision and uncertainty and pride and purpose, love and loyalty and friendship and family.

You know how much can change.

You know what it’s like to be so aware of time.

You know what it means to be human.

And as you continue driving now, you realize what you see in the rearview mirror is getting further and further away, but you’re not getting any closer. No, you have so much farther to go yet…

So much still to learn.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Lyssa April 26, 2010

Amen. Love the post, Susan.

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Susan Pogorzelski April 27, 2010

And I love you. I win!

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Kristina April 27, 2010

You have summed it up so well, Susan, that there is nothing more for me to add. This is beautiful and I think you should be published!!

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Susan Pogorzelski April 27, 2010

Aw! Thanks, Kris! If I could give you a hug right now, I would (but there’s no way I’m driving those highways again at this hour =P ). You know what I love about our friendship? That through this past year and a half we’ve learned from each other, supported each other. Your faith in me and my writing means the world to me.

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Positively Present April 27, 2010

Another amazingly written post from you, Susan. I can SO relate to this, being a 26-year-old myself. We know so much — and yet there is still so much left to learn. You really are a talented writer and I truly enjoyed this post (as I do all of your posts!).

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Susan Pogorzelski April 27, 2010

Dani: I think you and I really need to talk more often…When I see comments like this, I’m blown away by how similar our stories seem to be, how we seem to be in the same place, having gone through somewhat similar experiences. That’s an amazing feeling — to know that everyone can relate to these stages in life but, more importantly, to realize that we can relate to each other. Thanks for showing me that. And thanks, as always, for being here :)

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Sam Karol April 27, 2010

I’m thinking that banking is totally the wrong field for you. Someone who can write like this should be able to share their gift with the world! Beautiful, and I can relate to the things you said about every stage in life. People often get so caught up in planning out the future that they forget to enjoy where they are right now. This is a great reminder to appreciate the path we’re on and each stop along the way.

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Susan Pogorzelski April 27, 2010

Sam: I’m thinking that you need to read what I wrote above to Kris because it totally applies to you as well. :) It’s funny, you don’t realize you’re learning when you’re experiencing such simple moments of innocence and, unfortunately, in moments of pain and uncertainty. I think when you’re older, you can appreciate what you’ve been through because when you’re so young, you can’t really put it into words, you don’t really know what it means yet.

As they say, hindsight is always 20/20…Thanks, Sam — for being a bit of sunshine in my life, for your encouragement, your support, and your friendship.

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Ryan Knapp April 27, 2010

Wow Susan. Just wow.

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Susan Pogorzelski April 27, 2010

Haha. Thanks, Ryan! :)

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Matt Cheuvront April 27, 2010

I agree with Sam above Susan – this is incredible writing – and I can firmly stand here and say that this is, without a doubt, at least one of your true callings in life – I’ve always thought that about you Susan – you have a way with words that draws people in and keeps them (in this case me) hanging on every word. Don’t ever stop writing – I lurk more than I comment here, but I’m around, taking it in, enjoying every minute of it.

I hope you’re doing well and hope we can chat and catch up again soon.

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Susan Pogorzelski May 26, 2010

Matt — I’m late in replying, but thanks for reading and commenting! Your words mean a lot…especially as self-doubt sometimes still lurks around the corner there, it’s nice to hear that maybe there is something good coming out of what I love so much — not just for how it helps me, but hopefully helping others as well.

I hope you had a wonderful honeymoon and are enjoying married life. Thanks again!

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Josten May 5, 2010

Pretty amazing post. It clearly defines life in the perfect description. At times getting older can get rough, thats why i tend to focus on the present and do what i love.

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Susan Pogorzelski May 26, 2010

Josten: Thanks so much for stopping by! Focusing on the present has always been easier said than done for me, but I’m trying and I’m most definitely learning…And I absolutely admire people who can do that 😉 I wish you well, and may you always be doing what you love 😉

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greymous May 17, 2010

Susan,

Some thoughts from my side of the looking glass: that rear view mirror is both a joy and a cause for pain in all of us. For the time being you can see clearly what is there and feel the ups and downs which are still close and relevant to you.

One day, when you’re as old as dirt like I am, you’ll look into that mirror and see things in a different way. Some will be clear and either bright or dark, like the joy of your first ice cream or the day someone you loved passed away, but most of it will be just a bit fuzzy and you’ll try to remember exactly what it was that kept that particular vision in your mirror for so long before you realize that those things are not as important to you as you once thought they were.

Relish in this clarity now, even the hard stuff, as it keeps your thoughts and feelings focused and reminds you of who you are which, to me anyway, is someone who has a very special heart and soul.

Keep up with all the good things you’re doing for yourself and never give up on you!

Remember, I’ve still got that stick to beat you with if you get out of line… 😀 Okay?

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Susan Pogorzelski May 26, 2010

Ken! I can’t help it…Every time I see your name, I want to greet you with an exclamation mark!

This may be among one of my favorite comments I’ve ever received on a post because your thoughts are so clear, so beautiful, and it’s something I hope to always remember. Memory is funny like that, isn’t it? When you’re in the moment and growing up, life can seem pretty rough, and there are moments that will forever remain ingrained in your memory. I think there are two kinds of memories — the good, and the mistakes. Both seem to be the ones we hold onto. The mistakes because we learn from them, and the good ones to take comfort in.

Time changes everything…as you say, it makes things fuzzy and loses its clarity, makes you wonder about what you once upon a time deemed so important. I wonder — I hope — that as I get older, the mistakes will fade and the good memories will remain.

Can we have that chat soon? I think I’d love to hear some more wise words from someone who has become a very dear friend. And if they’re not available, you’ll do just fine. =P Kidding! :)

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