The Stages of Life

sandy-cox

SJ is part of a local writers group in Senoia that meets the third Saturday of every month at 10 a.m. at the Senoia Library. You can also follow more of her writing at creativejuices-sjcox.tumblr.com.

The other day while in a store shopping I overheard some teenagers joking around and chatting. They weren’t being particularly loud but in my close proximity I couldn’t help but hear them. They weren’t saying anything of particular importance, but I remember thinking to myself, “Man did I sound that dumb and naïve when I was their age?”
I am by no means an old lady, but to teenage standards thirty-eight is old! I’m not as spry and energetic as I used to be, but I’m not geriatric either. Reevaluating where I am at now in life versus where I was at twenty years ago made me realize that life definitely comes at you in stages, each one different from the last.
As children, up until about the time they reach their early teenage years the world is a magical place filled with endless opportunity, both real and unreal. They are considered an innocent, meaning they have not known the harsh realities of life and so are free to imagine it any way they see fit. Their house can have walls made of pizza, it can be a place where ducks are blue and unicorns exist. Why not make the world a fun and colorful place? This innocence can only last so long. As a child matures into a teenager, they begin to learn that people aren’t always friendly and that tough choices sometimes have to be made. This stage of life has children thinking they know everything there is to know, and all adults are wrong. It’s the time when we all have to figure things out for ourselves while parents keep a watchful eye at a distance to make sure things don’t go too badly.
Finally, we arrive at what we see as freedom in the form of our twenties. We spent our whole teenage years dreaming of when we could be independent and make our own decisions. Now we have arrived, there are no adults to tell us what to do, because we are adults ourselves. This is where life becomes more complicated. Most of us by that point moved out of our parent’s house, allowing us to be stupid and do things like party till the break of dawn only to call in sick to work the next day. Sometimes it didn’t even come to that, we simply made the choice not to show up at all. Worse yet, there are others who were less fortunate and made dumb choices that landed them in jail. Both actions had consequences that we had to answer to, but we just didn’t think that far ahead.
On to the next stages of life, life in general! By our mid-twenties we have begun to settle down and realize that what we want is not to be stupid and crazy, but to start thinking of our futures. We begin to think more about finding “the one” and begin settling into a more calming, domestic life. By our thirties most have married and begun families and we realize that the thing we found to be considered boring activities are actually enjoyable. Rather than go out and party all night long, we would rather stay home and enjoy the family.
As I get closer to entering forty, I begin to wonder what the next stage in life will bring me. I still have a ways until I reach retirement, so I guess for now it is enduring the endless forty-hour work day at a mundane job while I look forward to the weekend and occasional vacation. Once retirement hits I will be in yet another stage of life where the possibilities are endless. I guess it goes to show you that life is like a river, ever changing and flowing and you never know what will become coming around the next bend.

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