Does life really get better with age?

In a world obsessed with youth, it’s hard to grow older.

At some point, you realise you are no longer the shiniest thing in the room.

No more do people applaud your achievements and say ‘oh, but how young you are’.

Suddenly all of the pop stars, actors and influencers are 18. You don’t know their names or pictures. You aren’t up to date on the cultural zeitgeist anymore.

Then you notice you and your friends are travelling different paths. Once before, you all had the same goal, whether it be university degrees or Sunday rollovers.

Nowadays, those paths diverge. Some are engaged, moving in with partners or having babies.

It all happened so quickly and you can’t quite keep up.

However, there is solace in the chaos.

Our elders always say that life gets better with age. They tell us you may get arthritis but at least you don’t care what Carol down the road thinks about you anymore.

Age is well and truly a number, but is this true? As the number increases, does life get better?

We asked those in the know for their honest opinion.

Jenny O’ Brien, 56

‘I’m not sure life is better or just busier. Us oldies still have our dreams but they can’t come true without hard work and determination.

‘I got a publishing contract with Harper Collins at 54 and have published five books with them so far.

‘I recently just found an agent at 56, which is my current age. And all this time I’ve worked as a nurse.’

Dale Tyler-Lodge, 42

‘I can remember in my twenties dreading getting to my forties. I was convinced I’d be old and boring.

‘But actually, I only recently said to my friend who was turning 30 and having a meltdown that you give less f***s with every decade.

‘When I was younger, I cared what others thought, I was scared to break out of the expected mould. I was obsessed with being thin and perfect.

‘Now I’m 42 and I am so much happier in my skin. I’ve broken out of my office based career and pursued one as an artist – potentially opening an art gallery with my partner early next year.

‘People have stopped asking me when I’m going to have kids. I’m completely at peace with my flaws and I love nothing more than a steak and a pint of beer.’

Patrick Reid, 52

‘I have to say the last decade of my life has been the absolute best. I am super comfortable with who I am and what I do. I have my own business and I’ve never felt stronger, fitter and more profitable.

‘I can say no to things and sleep well. Meanwhile, I say yes to new exciting things that will enrich my life.’

Erin Flavin, 19

‘It gets worse.’

Joanne Dillon, 38

‘It depends on the life you choose. But if it’s a life that suits you, it certainly f***ing does.’

Keith McNiven, 38

‘In my humble opinion, life definitely gets better with age. I turn 40 in two years and my 30s have been the best of my life. I am much more comfortable in myself and I know exactly what I want compared to when I was younger.

‘Back then, I was flitting between choices of what to do next, especially in my career. I couldn’t make my mind up.

‘I’m also much more financially stable now, which makes me feel secure about the future. I founded my own business called Right Path Fitness.

‘And it doesn’t hurt that I met the love of my life this year too! I can only see life getter better from here on out.’

Naeem Badiuzzaman, over 35

‘I am not so sure, especially after you cross your mid-thirties and your body no longer takes the pressure of things you love like eating, playing sports or going on adventures. One needs to push oneself for sports or offset for indulgent food.’

Sarah Perkins, 50

‘I’ve now found my dream career as an artist painting animals. I was featured in a magazine recently about my life journey and I just turned 50 this year.’

Stephanie Barnes, 34

‘I’m actually excited to get older because my mind is learning to not give a f*** about things. I think it’s exciting!’

Anonymous, age not given

‘No, becoming an adult is an absolute scam. So much responsibility and not much grace going around. Becoming miserable is inevitable. Thank god for non-stop caffeine.’

Martina Witter, 42

‘It gets better because you become more secure in yourself.’

Steve Porter, 51

‘You stop putting up with the crap of others for the sake of playing and gaining advantage via the long game. There is no long game! Only today. And there is no advantage. The constant quest for improvement is revealed as a marketing myth.  

‘You feel freer through certainties where once certainty appeared a mental trap. You still notice all the stuff you noticed before, but with and through the prism of experience. You get to watch others making the crashing mistakes (without glee) while knowing that mistakes are essential and they wouldn’t listen to your dumb sage advice anyway. 

‘Obviously there’s the pitter-patter of approaching death but pragmatism (and more than likely truth) leads me to conclude that as long as it doesn’t hurt too much it’ll probably be okay and that this material plane is all a bit illusionary, anyway.

‘You understand that kindness and love may not win the day but they are worth pursuing nonetheless.’

Taz Thornton, 47

‘With age, I’ve found my skin fits more easily – I’m more in my stride and comfortable being the REAL me, instead of attempting to conform to the ideas of others. 

‘I’m 47 now and embrace every day. I’m currently sitting in a restaurant, wearing biker boots and a Marvel superhero T-shirt while rocking bright pink hair, of course. I am me. I dress for me. I behave as I choose. Older, wiser and a little more crazy. Let the world beware.’

Jo Carroll, 51

‘Having two kids and starting a business in my forties transformed my life. I’m now 51 and loving the menopause too. The raring hormones have made me fearless and outspoken. I’ve always been quite reserved and I’m quite enjoying saying exactly what I think for a change. I’m really quite enjoying middle age.’

Jenifer Rosenberg, 79

‘In my experience – despite having had a successful career when I was younger and then sadly losing two husbands – I do feel my life has got better with age.

‘You don’t take anything for granted, you live for the moment and of course with age comes wisdom. Had I not had such a varied business career, I would not have been able to successfully chair the Heart Cells Foundation charity. 

‘I was able to lead HCF through a pandemic in order to continue to raise funds in a virtual way which has kept me very busy. My work ethic has never changed throughout my life or slowed down, despite almost reaching my eighth decade.

‘People say that community isn’t what it was years ago and I have to disagree. I live in a wonderful apartment building which has a fantastic sense of community. I feel supported and have lovely friends and there is always something going on.

‘I adore modern technology. I embrace it, but at the same time wouldn’t want to be young again. There’s far too many pressures for the youth of today to keep up a certain lifestyle due to social media. You need to look a certain way, have the latest fashions, home, décor, meals. This is then all documented on social media in order to show others you lead a perfect life.

‘I wouldn’t want to be in that position, I don’t envy them at all. I don’t have these pressures but I can observe. I embrace that society is more open today about their feelings of mental health, equal pay and sexuality. When I was younger you just didn’t discuss certain issues. So, to be living in London and present in the ever changing landscape is truly something I embrace as I age.’

Do you think life gets better or worse when you age?

Tell us your thoughts by emailing [email protected]

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