Ben Leander Willgruber | Visual Designer and Writer

Getting Older

It’s the day before my birthday and for the first time in maybe ten years, I’m going to spend that day alone. Some thoughts on getting older.

As far as I can think back, I always had people around me the day before my birthday. My family, my friends, my ey-boyfriends. I remember very clearly the day before my 20th birthday that my boyfriend at the time drove me out way out of town where we had a beautiful view over the city. I was so stressed about that day, leaving my teens behind freaked me out. I wasn’t nervous because I was getting older, it was fucking 20, I was anxious to close off a chapter of my life I might not have been done with. 

What does it mean to be getting older?

And why are so many of us afraid of it? It’s certainly not about a number on a piece of paper and more about what that number symbolizes. I personally, am not scared to grow old, but I am scared of leaving something behind. Having to get serious, getting further and further away from ‘the good old days’, having to trade fun and happiness for routine, stability and paying taxes. I think I’m not afraid of growing old, I am afraid of growing up. 

Like so many others, I am also scared of feeling alone. I don’t define loneliness by how many friends I have but by how connected I feel with them. I am pretty sure most of my friends don’t even know about that fear of mine – and I don’t know if they have similar worries. Still, I didn’t ask anyone to spend this day with me… I feel like I have to be alone for this one.

Making plans for next year?

I am currently reading Allegro Pastell by Leif Randt. One of the protagonists, a writer by coincidence, is turning 30. She is not worried a bit about getting older but is intrigued by the thought of how she can shape that new age and make it her own. A day before her birthday she contemplates about her past year and if she is happy with how it turned out and what she’d like her new year to look. She comes to the conclusion that her past year was a big failure and is excited by the thought. I wish I could be like that too, but my fear of feeling like a failure is probably even bigger than my fear of being alone.

Since I don’t do birthday resolutions I had a look at my last New Year’s resolutions. By the measurement of that list, my year has been pretty much a failure. As I planned, I did become a full-time freelancer, which is going really well so far, but I did not do much art, I didn’t do sports, I didn’t travel and I didn’t DJ much. But: I don’t feel bad about that. I know that most of these things have been prevented by the Corona outbreak. It is very normal that I spent most of the year at home, working, and losing track of time.

Photo: Kyle Thompson

Personal growth?

At the moment I don’t have many goals I wanna reach. I wanna keep up being a freelancer and find my own personal place in the industry and I would love to finish the book I’ve been working on for almost two years now. But maybe it’s time I stop focussing on achievements and look at my personal growth instead. This might even help me getting over my fear of failure and making it easier for me to just relax and do nothing. As I have also mentioned earlier in this post, I am anxious of being alone and feeling lonely. So, it is probably overdue I spend some time on my own, get comfortable being on my own and accepting that it’s OK not to be around someone all the time. If Corona allows for it, I might even do some working & traveling on my own. Corona also helped me with my personal FOMO (fear of missing out) as there is not that much happening anyways. Now I need to keep these positive developments up.

I feel like this year is gonna be a practice run for the big 3.0. I hope that I can grow enough so that the next birthday won’t throw me off completely. I will try my best not to overthink much and enjoy the good moments as much as I can while working through the bad ones. I am mature enough to know that I won’t have my life figured out by next year, but maybe I’ll be a little bit closer to a vision for the future. If not, however, I hope I can be like the girl in Allegro Pastell and enjoy having failed as a normal, humbling and human experience.

Ben

 

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