People always say age is just a number. It is, and I have said it many a time too…in fact, I will continue to say it, because it’s such a catchy, smarty-pants turn of phrase. Try it someday, if you haven’t already…you really feel like you’ve solved a major issue when you tell someone, “Don’t worry about turning 30 (or 40 or 50)…Age is just a number!” And then you sit there all bug-eyed because although they say all the right things in return, you get the distinct sense that they don’t feel like you’ve solved any problem at all.
Today, I was wondering why it kind of bugs me that I am getting older. This is a new feeling for me; I’ve never felt any concept of age before. Really, there was no change in me, my life, or my beliefs whether I was 20, 25, or 30. But now…I am a thirty-something (anyone who is shocked, sorry…hope you didn’t get a heart attack) and it makes me a wee bit worried…not sad, not depressed, just worried. There, I said it. Age is no longer just a number to me. My age means something to me. What does it mean?
I realized that my age means something to me not just because it’s a number representing who I am right now. It also represents who and what I will be tomorrow, and 10 years from now. When I was 20-something, I hardly ever wondered what life would be like beyond that moment. Sure, life was about change…but it wasn’t change to think about, it was just change that happens. Now, the changes that will happen are something to think about. For example, will my parents be around when I am 40? Will I be healthy at 40? Will I be a better Muslimah at 40? Will I be sustaining myself financially at 40? Are my efforts of today going to pay off in the future? Are my weaknesses of today going to hurt me at 40? How badly are those weaknesses going to come back to bite me? What am I doing, saying, and thinking today that I am going to hate in ten year’s time? These thoughts usually just float through my brain fleetingly, not long enough for me to even realize I am having them, and certainly not all at once. But today, it was like a billboard went up in my brain, with all those questions competing for attention.
I know I am going to be fine, inshaAllah…because I remember being 13 and having very similar fears for the future. I used to wonder, will I ever have an opinion of my own? Will I be able to express and back up my opinions? How will I ever figure out this world? Do I have to figure out this world? Life felt really scary at that point. I didn’t think a day would come when I would not only have my own ideas, but fight for them tooth and nail…but (as you are all aware if you’re reading this!) that day did come, and has stretched into years. I think about those miserable future-focused moments and see myself at that point in life once again. I got over those fears…and I will get over these ones…by the grace of Allah Almighty alone, because heaven knows I have no resources within me to get over them by myself.
And yes, age really is just a number. A number with a meaning. 🙂 My conundrum reminds me of the Rumi saying:
You’re not at the place in which you stand. You’re at the place you’re destined to go.