37

I think there is a perception, or at least I’ve always had the perception, that life gets easier as you get older. Maybe it’s because you gain some amount of freedom you hadn’t experienced before. Maybe you get a stable job and no longer have to worry about money (as much). You get married and have a kid (or a few) and aren’t as lonely. Or any number of possible things that can improve as time marches on.

What I’ve found over the course of my 37 years is that life is always hard for most people, most of the time. It just becomes hard in different ways. While owning a home and having a child and maintaining a marriage and having disposable income are all great things, it’s also really hard to maintain a home and raise a child and share your life and be responsible with your money. We work so goddamned hard when we’re young to lift ourselves up, earn the responsibilities that we’re told make us successful adults, but then need to learn how to shoulder the burden of those responsibilities. The margin of error shrinks with each one. It’s terrifying.

Although I’ve not quite reached middle age (all being well), I have reached a point in my life where I’m beginning to lose more than I gain. Eight years ago, I lost my grandfather. A few months after my son was born, I lost my oldest friend. This past December, I lost my mother-in-law. Going forward, I’ll likely attend more funerals than weddings. I know all too well that Death hovers near all of us, all the time, and will reach for you at random.

I say all of this only to acknowledge that life is hard. For most of us, most of the time, it’s always been hard and will continue to be hard.

And that’s okay. Because we level up as the difficulty rises. Sure, sometimes we fail, or we retreat. But most of the time we learn to manage it. We become wiser. Get stronger. Understand ourselves better. There is value in that as part of what it means to get older and to live a life well lived.

For a brief time I wasn’t sure I’d see 36, let alone 37. So, even though things are hard right now, even though most days I feel like I’m barely treading water just balancing my day-to-day responsibilities (to say nothing of my ambitions and dreams, which are largely ignored nowadays), I’m grateful to feel it at all. Feeling like I’m about to crumble under the weight of my responsibilities means I’ve built a full life. It means I’ve achieved things and now must maintain them. Feeling this way means that I am here, experiencing all that life can throw at me and I’m making it through.

After COVID, and having a child, and getting cancer, and losing people I love, I’ve realized that I am resilient. Resilient and persistent.

So are you.

Remember that as things get harder, and they will always get harder. We are resilient and persistent, and life is worthwhile because it is hard.

2 Comments

  1. Jace

    Beautiful and insightful post, Craig. Sorry to hear about our mother-in-law.

    Hope you had a happy birthday.

    • Jace

      *your mother-in-law.

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