5 Harsh Things No One Warned Me About Getting Older

These are the things about aging no one ever explained to me.

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I turned 35 this month.

Bro, I’m not going to lie. I didn’t actually expect to live this long — and not for nothing, the odds were against me doing so.

Statistically speaking, trafficking survivors typically last for about seven years after they first get sold. The statistics for homeless people are similarly grim.

Hey, I’m just vibing and thriving these days. It’s weird.

At 35, I figured I’d look a bit older than I do. When I was a kid, I also figured that I would magically become capable of dressing preppy and having it look normal on me. It didn’t.


There are certain things people warned me about getting old: feeling creaky, not being able to drink as much, and not wanting to stay up all night, to name a few.

However, aging is really weird because you never get the full story until it happens to you. These are the things no one ever explained to me.


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Here are 5 harsh things no one warned me about getting older:

1. You start seeing people in a different light — and the type of people you respect changes as a result

Time has a very weird way of letting the truth out and shining a light on a person’s true character. 

Such is the case with the following two examples of how I ended up changing my view of people.

A great example of how a group lost favor in my eyes can be seen with the goth scene. I struggled so hard to be accepted, only to basically be slut-shamed into oblivion and have most of the local scene side with my abusive, cheating ex.


About five years ago, I started to get people approaching me, apologizing for how they were. That … was not something I expected to happen. At the same time, I didn’t really want to associate with them after my breakup with my ex. They showed me who they were, and I had to believe them.

While I look goth-y, I don’t really vibe with most goths I meet for that reason. I can’t help but wonder, "Would you be the one to blame the victim next time it happens?"

On the other hand, a good example of it working in the opposite way deals with a workplace bully of mine that I actually mentioned in another article. As many people know, Vocal had given me a fair amount of trauma.

One of the girls who I blamed the most for it we’ll call Tracy*. Tracy and I were at each other’s throats most of the time, albeit, covertly. It was only after years and other coworkers pointing out how venomous that place was that I realized that Tracy was a victim, too.


We recently apologized to each other. We now occasionally send each other memes and show support for each other’s projects. When I really got to sit down and talk to her as a human being, I realized Tracy is actually a really amazing person.

Had you told me that’d happen three years ago, I’d probably have asked you to share whatever drugs you’re on. Getting older makes you see things differently.

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2. Family becomes more important

There comes a certain point where you start to realize that your parents are aging and declining in health.

When I had that moment happen with my dad, I really panicked. Like, not for nothing, but my dad was my inspiration for just being me.


I was not ready for the shock of realizing that my days with my dad were numbered. When he died, I made a silent promise to be there for my surviving family — both bloodline and chosen.

Since then, I’ve found myself reaching out to my quasi-cousins from Thailand, being more active in my daughter’s life, being more dedicated to my in-laws, and also doing more chores for my mom.

Getting older makes you so much more cognizant of how much people matter. I am working on being the crazy aunt to many and working on being the dedicated family person that those who stuck around deserve.

People make your life — literally. Treasure them.

3. Places become painful

When my grandfather died, my mom had to go back to Romania to sort through his things. I was about 20 when this happened. My dad sat me down and decided to do some pre-emptive crisis diffusion.


My dad put a hand on my shoulder and said, "Ossiana, I realize you and your mother love to fight about your wardrobe. Right now, she’s going to do a very difficult trip. Please, for all that is holy, shut up and do not give her grief.”

Then, Mom went to Romania for a week. She came back from there, sat on the couch, and said, "I don’t want to go back there for a while. All I see are empty houses and people who aren’t there anymore."

I didn’t quite get what she went through until I started to experience it as I got older. My hometown is starting to feel like that. I keep seeing houses of people I used to know — including my best friend’s — and just feel like I’m seeing some painful past memory that I don’t want to relive.

For some reason, seeing my old hometown evolve and modernize started to really get at me. I appreciate my mom’s strength a lot more these days after feeling that. She’s more stoic than I am.


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4. In your head, you'll still feel 16

Do you know how we all have that inner dialogue? That little voice in our head that just talks when we think? Well, I kind of realized mine never aged. It still sounds the same as it did when I was 16.

I don’t really feel like *I* aged that much, either. From what I’ve heard from other older folks, that’s a fairly common realization.

Yes, we’re getting old. Yes, we’re greying. But in our minds, we’re all still 16.


5. The awe you develop for older people intensifies

Bro, not for nothing, but this was the biggest change for me. I was one of those people who was all about "Live Fast, Die Young," but I still was fascinated with hearing stories of WWII from veterans or listening to mom’s stories of Ceausescu’s Romania.

The older I get, the more awestruck I am by some of the things I hear from people older than me.

I also realize that those stories, and at times, those dialects, are going to stop being told soon. So I listen harder and want to learn more.

A while back, I ran into an old man at the bar who was drawing on a notepad. I struck up a conversation with him and he looked at me and said, "You know, I was a punk, too, back in the day. Back in the 80s, in the glam rock era."


Wow, this dude had stories — stories that even outdid mine at my peak partying. (For the record, that’s not an easy feat. A large percentage of people who partied with me at 18 are dead due to how insane it got.) Talking to him was, by and large, one of the absolutely most enthralling couple of hours I ever spent at a bar.

Those stories matter. The older I get, the more I want to hear what it’s like to be alive back then. As a youth, I didn’t realize how much we could learn from the old vanguard of people. I’m just glad I can still listen to stories today.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others.