I can remember the day my mom turned 40.
I distinctly remember thinking that I never wanted to get that old. When I turned 20, I could not believe how close 30 seemed.
Age, to me, has always been a scary marker of time passing. At 20, I also could never have imagined being friends with a 30 year-old. Not only was I young, but I was naive.
When we moved to our new house two years ago, we became neighbors with a wonderfully sweet woman in her late 60s and also with a couple in their 50s with “kids” our age. We thought we had won the neighbor jackpot. When the couple in their 50s put their house up for sale, we were devastated. We were spending evenings that summer contemplating who our new neighbors would be and listing the ideal characteristics they would possess.
The neighbors’ house took months and months to sell. Eventually, a former co-worker, who is once again my co-worker, and her family bought the house. Nothing seems more awkward to me than sort-of knowing your new neighbors. We share a property line, can see into each other’s windows if the shades are up, and on a quiet night, we can hear each other’s’ children’s’ temper tantrums.
Being a neighbor is an intimate experience.
Initially, our interactions were very cordial. I’d like to call this the warming up period. My neighbor is 11 years older than me, and her boys were four and six, while my boys were 8 months and 2. Did we really have that much in common? She is a successful teacher and someone that I looked up to. We were on the verge of friendship, but my awkward shyness was holding us back.
After 8 months of yard talk, we finally accepted their invitation to dinner. Since September, we have had family dinners together at least once a month and you can often find us sneaking out of our houses to leave our boys with their dads in order to share a cocktail at the local watering hole.
We also just celebrated her 40th birthday and I did not feel the need to help her pick out a casket. 40 is not the milestone I once thought it was.
Finally moving past my issue with age, I have contemplated how people move in and out of each other’s lives.
If I was only friends with women my age, how would I be growing, learning, and evolving as a woman, parent, or significant other? Those older than ourselves have been around the block, as some would say, and have wisdom to impart to those younger than themselves. Parent advice, relationship advice, work advice, the list is endless.
I also do not feel like this is a one-way street, or a teacher-student role. We compliment each other, and we each bring strengths, skills, and diversity to our relationship. And despite my bias, we find that we have so much in common too.
As I find myself on the precipice of 30 (GASP!) I am not worried about my next birthday, or those that come after. I have wonderful role models who remind me that “age is just a number.”
We get out of life what we put into it. I choose to live my life discovering myself and evolving to be the best version of me. I also choose to surround myself with those who I can learn from and enjoy the company of. Life is too short to be surrounded by toxicity. Find your village, find your voice, and find your peace. Don’t let fear of aging hold you back.