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10 Reasons Getting Older Rocks

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briana hansen 5 lowI just celebrated a birthday. I love birthdays. But there’s a strange stigma to getting older in Hollywood- especially for women. It’s like there’s this underlying idea that one of our most valuable assets is our beauty which fades with age. So we do whatever it takes to hide our age and struggle to hold onto our youth. As if somehow we peaked in our early 20s.

I call bullsh*t. I love getting older. And here are 10 reasons off the top of my head why.

1) I know myself better every year

Part of the process of growing up is starting to realize who you really are. With every year of age, I start to see a pattern within myself. Who are the types of people I tend to be happiest around? What am I happiest doing? How do I relax? What am I doing because I want to do it and what am I doing out of obligation?

I can start to understand what it takes to become my happiest, healthiest self. And, as a result, can start taking steps daily to maintain that happiness.

2) I like myself

I let myself enjoy my own company. I don’t self-hate talk anymore. I learned it doesn’t serve me at all. I don’t have the insecurities I had 10 years ago that made me desperately want everyone to like me. I stopped caring what other people thought and started caring about what I thought. If I miss going to the gym for a week, I don’t yell at myself and say “You’re lazy”or “You’re fat.”I say, “Hey you beautiful, busy lady. I think it’ll feel really good if we can make more time for the gym next week. Whaddya think?”

And yes, I talk to myself. We all do it. And if you don’t, you’re missing out on some great conversation.

3) I forgive myself more easily

I make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. I make poor judgement calls based on misinterpreted information. I screw up.

But I’ve learned that a mistake is not something worth getting overly stressed about. For instance, I take good care of my finances. I’m pretty prudent when it comes to spending within my own limits and making sure all my bills are paid on time. But sometimes, I didn’t read that street sign properly and I got an expensive ticket I can’t afford.

Whatever. Life is long and this stressful moment will be lost in a sea of positive ones soon enough. So rather than get extremely bent out of shape, I’ve just learned to fix the problem and move on. Figure out how to pay whatever needs to be paid and get over it. There are more wonderful things to occupy your mind than what you could have spend that ticket money on.

4) I’m more interesting

Every year is filled with adventures and life experiences. I try and go out of my way in pushing my own boundaries and comfort zone in order to challenge myself. In doing so, I’ve had some pretty great adventures. Nothing too crazy, but the accumulation of my experiences has made me suddenly become more interesting to talk to. I’ve done cool stuff. I’ve met interesting people. I no longer care about what that kid said about me in speech class in high school. I’ve lived a decade of life after high school where much more wonderful and interesting things have happened.

I like to share those experiences with people and learn about other who have also had a multitude of experiences completely different than my own. And the best part is, I know that with every year I’m only going to get to do more and go through new phases with new experiences and adventures.

5) I know when to shut up

There are times when a story should be brief. There are times when you don’t even need to say anything at all. There are times when you really want to talk back to someone and tell them exactly how you feel in some epic speech that ends with you turning your back and slowly walking away like you’re a badass in an action hero who just set a building on fire.

But as you get older, you learn when it’s not worth it. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is just listen to someone and let them talk. Sometimes, you can just walk away and let the person have a bad day. Sometimes, you just need to lose the battle and have your ass handed to you so you can learn and become a better person.

You learn to respect silence and not be scared of it. You learn to respect your time and energy and the time and energy of those around you.

6) I know when to speak up

Having just made a case for silence, let me be clear about how important it is to have also learned to speak up. When I was younger, I never wanted people to dislike me. I was scared, for whatever reason, to ask for what I really wanted. Part of the problem was that I didn’t know what I wanted (see #7 below), but part of it was that I really wanted people to like me and was scared that disagreement would automatically mean dislike.

I’ve learned that it’s healthy and important to always speak out and stand up for what you believe in and protect who you are and what you want. And most people will respect you for that honesty and you can build a stronger relationship when you go forward from that honest, open place. And the people who automatically dislike you for that disagreement aren’t worth your time anyway.

7) I know what I want

…usually. I’m still learning. But I at least can take a self-aware look around me and know what things I can add to my world that will make me happier and what things I can get rid of. I trust my gut instinct and let it guide me more regularly. I let myself feel emotions strongly so I’m not coaxing myself into a state of denial. And I know that if I don’t know what I want, I can make sure to stay in conversation with my gut until I figure it out. I’m ok with living in the gray area for a while. Once I figure it out, I stay as true to it as I possibly can in both my words and actions.

8) I know how to ask for what I want

Just like #6 above, I attempt to always come from a place of honesty. But more importantly, I’m not scared to demand greatness from myself and those around me. And that can be intimidating. And it can cause stress in relationships. And means I’m taking a risk of failure. But the only way I can truly get what I want is by asking for it. So I continue to do it no matter what the outcome.

9) I know how to take responsibility

Stop blaming others for something you had control over. Just stop. I used to do it. I know I did. Nothing was ever my fault and if something didn’t go my way, it’s because someone screwed me over.

Spoiler alert: Turns out, I was immature and didn’t take responsibility for my own actions.
Sure, there are moments when life does screw you over and something is not your fault. But as you gain more self awareness, you realize the power your own words and actions have in a situation. And if you screw up, take responsibility. If you’ve already embraced #3 on this list and learned to forgive yourself, you know you’ll get over it soon enough and you can learn from the mistake and move on.

Otherwise, you’ll go through life the constant victim without any power of your own. Taking responsibility means recognizing your own power in a given situation. And through knowing your own power, you can become a powerful person.

10) I know how to stop apologizing

If it’s not my fault, I don’t need to apologize. Apologies can be powerful, vulnerable, and beautiful moments of open forgiveness and starting a new chapter in life. Or, they can be manipulation tactics to keep yourself at a lesser status than those around you and continue to feel guilty about things that you have no control over. And as long as you feel guilty, you can’t see the things you do have control over. Which means you’re blind to your own power.

So apologize when it’s worth it. And let it go if it’s not.

I have a lot more reasons I’ve enjoyed getting older, but I’m out of time in this article. Oh, well. I can do a follow up next year. No big deal. Life is long and I’m lucky as long as I get to continue experiencing it.

Briana Hansen

About Briana Hansen

Briana Hansen is an enthusiastic actress, writer, and comedian originally from the midwest who now lives in Los Angeles and loves every moment of it. She trained in improvisation and sketch comedy for years in Chicago and continues to perform and study it in LA. She creates a constantly evolving comedic solo show “Femoir” which has been produced at major comedy theaters and festivals all over the nation for several years. She continues to produce it in bi-monthly in podcast form and onstage periodically. She performs sketch comedy regularly at The Second City with TMI Hollywood and does stand up gigs at major (and minor) venues throughout the city. Her first novel, “Cartoon Confessions,” will be published in spring 2014. She is currently producing and starring in a comedic web series she wrote called “The Other Client List.” She is a major sunscreen advocate.