31 In Lifestyle

Growing old. How to choose happiness, not bitterness.


Growing old. How to choose happiness, not bitterness.

I feel blessed to be growing older. Don’t you?

Every day is another blessing. An opportunity to live, laugh and love.

But once upon a time I didn’t feel so blessed because as a teenager I wholeheartedly believed I would not live past the age of 21 – nor did I really want to.

No, I didn’t suffer a serious disease.

Instead, I was naive and a bit of a fool because of an experience with a Ouija board at a séance when I was a teenager. I also suffered badly from depression and anxiety – not that I knew it at the time. From then on I developed the belief that my time would run out early, and so I lived in a constant state of fear and angst. Angst that I was running out of time. That my time was running out fast. It encompassed me. I had so much I wanted to do and yet I was wasting my life doing other things I hated, or in just being depressed.

And then I turned 21 and the years just kept ticking away, and now I’m 40 and life continues to tick on.

Life hasn’t been easy.

There’s been a lot to deal with. I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff, failed repeatedly, and lost. I’ve made some wonderful friends, done some amazing things, and loved. Life has been amazing and beautiful and sad and tragic, yet it has all been worth it and made me the person I am today.

That’s the thing about growing older. It challenges AND defines you.

I recall a conversation with a former boss a few years back. I was telling them how I didn’t want to grow old and bitter, because I’d seen a lot of people do so. And the response? Well, I was expecting something like a high-five or a “good on you, that’s awesome“. But instead I told:

“Everyone grows old and bitter. There’s no other way.”

and the following corker;

“It will happen to you too.”

Those words made me so angry. They also made me incredibly sad. Sad for the person who uttered them. Sad because I expected more. Sad because it was the path they were paving for themselves.

I believe we all have a choice. Okay, life is hard. And yes, a lot of shitty stuff can happen, however we can let life break us or we can let life make us.  We can choose to let life’s happenings turn us bitter OR we can choose the alternative road, the happy one.

I have made it my mission not to grow old and bitter.

You can expect to see me in 20 years looking all WILD and free-spirited with long flowing white hair, surrounded by lots of animals (dogs, not cats), rocking out to my fave tunes and laughing really loudly. It’s my personal mission to become that eccentric older lady, and I have the perfect role model for it – my rockin’ mother who is in her late 50’s and still young and carefree at heart. She’s strong, she’s stubborn, and she’s wild, and if she can do it – and she’s been through a lot – then we can all do it.

What about you? Do you have a positive role model like my mum? It could be a grandparent, parent, child, friend, a celebrity or someone else!

Mum and me at a rock concert

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  • Reply
    Bethany @ Online Therapy and Coaching
    May 8, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Oh, old is definitely a state of mind! I’m 36 as well, and I’m planning on celebrating my 40th in some other country, cruising full time on the sailboat that I live on. (With my family of 3, of course!) Two years ago, we gave up our house and my “secure” job that I had for 10 years, to pursue our dreams. There are ALWAYS options, and there is no reason to slow down, unless you choose to.

    • Reply
      Janine Ripper
      May 13, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      I love that plan! I spent my 30th overseas and plan to do the same for my 40th! Sailing and living on a sailboat – I am so intrigued, impressed and inspired! Not that I love boats, but the concept of leaving everything to pursue your dreams…I love hearing people get out there to just do it!

  • Reply
    Penelope James
    May 8, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    Your reflections are beautiful, but I beg to differ about growing older vs. growing old. Growing older and growing old are two different things. Growing older is a constant from the time we’re born. Growing old happens when you reach a certain stage in your life. It can be defined socially, say 65 or over; or physically – your body feels old; or mentally – you know you’re old. Growing older is something both you and I are experiencing whereas growing old is something that I’m experiencing at my age, but you still have several decades to go.

    I love how your writing leads me to reflections of my own. I love how you reflect on growing older and how it has affected you at 37. Your reflections make me remember feeling the same way when I was in my late thirties. As you say, life had been fucking hard and there’d been a whole lot of shit. I couldn’t imagine all the shit that still lay ahead. I’m glad I didn’t know. But there were also triumphs and laughs and loves.

    I wish I had the time to write about my reflections on growing old at almost 72. It’s shocking, surprise, awesome, amazing, funny, challenging and so many other things to reach this age. I’m enjoying my seventies to the hilt! The best thing about this age is you can be yourself – outspoken, wise, naughty, serious, a sage, a mentor, a knowing grandmother or mischievous great-aunt, and your memories are gold, and your life experiences invaluable. You know the answers to questions you asked decades before and you realize and accept truths that you couldn’t see or understand. I have extraordinary and ambitious plans for the next few years and goals I have to reach

    Thanks for giving me a chance to reflect and sound off. As always, Janine, your post is a winner!

    • Reply
      Janine Ripper
      May 8, 2015 at 11:43 pm

      Thanks Pene. I agree with you. I realise that the title as it was didn’t really reflect on what I wrote…but my writing went where it went rather than focussing solely on the prompt, which in itself is the trouble with prompts, but I just couldn’t be bothered coming up with a new title. How lazy of me!

      I hear what you say and I am so glad I made you reflect and sound off. Its a pleasure to hear your thoughts and partake in a slow conversation across the seas and web sphere. I so can’t believe you are 72! But I am glad to hear you are enjoying your 70’s.

      May we always revel in the triumphs, laughs and loves 🙂 xx

    • Reply
      Tara Schiller
      May 9, 2015 at 12:06 am

      Loved this comment. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    May 8, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    I read somewhere one time that how you live your life determines if you will have a satisfactory old age Janine, and I believe it. People who don’t pursue their dreams and desires, or who are not satisfied with what they have done in life, often end up bitter and full of regrets. Since I am on the cusp of old age now, I know that little bit of pressure I feel to see and do as much as I can before I die. I am sure there will be things that I don’t accomplish, but as long as I make the effort, I will be happy. And right now, at this minute, I find a great satisfaction in life. I have no regrets.

  • Reply
    May 8, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    Age is just a number. I’m sizzling towards sixty and living life to the full. Thanks for the opportunity to post. Let’s Sizzle!

    • Reply
      Janine Ripper
      May 8, 2015 at 11:45 pm

      You’re most welcome Sue. Thanks for joining us. Keep on sizzling!

  • Reply
    Tara Schiller
    May 9, 2015 at 12:08 am

    Ahhh! Death by prophecy. I have had a few of those myself. They didn’t predict my death, but I took prophecies about other issues and allowed them to control me in ways that held me back from freedom and trapped my mind. Glad you made it! I am loving your blog.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Janine Ripper
      May 13, 2015 at 7:51 pm

      ‘Death by prophecy’ – I love that! Well not the death part but the way you said it. Thanks for the love!!

  • Reply
    Haley Morgan Smith
    May 9, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Please make a shirt that says,”Get out there and seize life by the balls.” I need that on a shirt pronto. So good.


  • Reply
    Mackenzie Glanville
    May 10, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    I almost wrote a post on this prompt, I am loving approaching 40, and realising I have a choice to embrace ageing and love getting older and wiser. I feel more comfortable in my skin now and for the first time don’t wish to stop time.

    • Reply
      Janine Ripper
      May 13, 2015 at 7:54 pm

      That’s brilliant Mac! Do you have anything special planned for your 40th (some time off yet, I know!). Im fantasising about somewhere exotic for mine!

  • Reply
    May 14, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    I enjoyed reading this. It really is about attitude. One of the things I have enjoyed about growing older, is feeling more comfortable about who I am and how my body looks. My Gran is 96 and still kicking about. She just went on a cruise, and is very active in her community. A few years ago she won a local Australia Day award for volunteering. My Gran inspires me in a lot of ways but her attitude to living regardless of age brings me to my knees.

  • Reply
    May 14, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    I really enjoyed this post. One of the things I enjoy about growing older is feeling more comfortable in my skin, with who I am. I feel seasoned. My Gran is 96 and still kicking. She just came back from a cruise and is active in her community. A few years ago she won a local Australia Day award for volunteering. My Gran inspires me to live, and to give back at every opportunity. To be kind, giving and generous with your good thoughts. My Gran’s thirst for knowledge is incredible and her interests span a multitude of areas. I feel so humbled by my Gran and when I think of her it brings me to my knees.

  • Reply
    May 16, 2015 at 12:19 am

    There’s no other way but old and bitter? Bullshit! That person sounds like a pessimistic fatalist. In fact I find myself become far more open minded and accepting the older I’ve gotten.

  • Reply
    Growing Older - Corinne Rodrigues
    May 28, 2015 at 11:56 am

    […] Janine Ripper and Mackenzie Glanville and some other cool bloggers (me included!) for the #FridayReflections […]

  • Reply
    December 3, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    I never wanted to grow up when I was a kid, but, well, somehow it happened anyway. lol Now, I plan on always being young – at heart. 🙂 And for me that means that I still enjoy and appreciate all the things that life has to offer, big and small. Great post!

  • Reply
    Mrs Tubbs
    December 8, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    I know loads of older people who aren’t bitter,but active, happy and contented and doing their thing. There is another way – you don’t have to end up old and bitter. Lovely post

  • Reply
    December 8, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    What a fab post!
    Good for you for socking it to em!
    The only reason people grow old and resentful is because they allow themselves to. The things that happen to us, we have little choice about but our attitude towards them is ALL down to us. X #abitofeverything

  • Reply
    Tracey Abrahams
    December 9, 2015 at 2:39 am

    How sad that the person you spoke to believes that. I have had plenty of bad things happen to me in my life and I could have gone down the bitter route, but I have so many amazing positive things too, and even if I didnt the only person I would hurt by being bitter is myself. All the while you remain positive and look for happiness you keen the door open for wonderful new oppotunities.
    Thank you for sharing rhis, Tracey xx #abitofeverything x

  • Reply
    December 24, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    well, I’ve probably got close to twenty years on you Janine and I’m not old or bitter or even close! You’re right that life is what you choose it to be and I choose joy and gratitude and a bit of sass on top! Look at the midlife bloggers you know and that is more likely to be your destiny 🙂 Life is damn fine and getting finer every day! Happy Christmas and have a FANTASTIC wedding day xxxx

  • Reply
    Sandy Mangis
    December 29, 2015 at 4:54 am

    We all have a choice. We can either let life make us or break us. That is a quote from you I will remember. I always thought I would grow old, didn’t give it that much thought. This was a good read. Growing old is a blessing, enjoy every minute of it and then when you look back you have something to remember and pass on.

  • Reply
    laura dove
    January 2, 2016 at 4:55 am

    I love this. My 36th birthday is just a few weeks off and I have suddenly been thinking a lot about the fact that I am getting old. Thank you for reminding me that this is a privilege many are robbed of and that actually, growing old doesn’t necessarily mean growing up!!! #Fridayreflections

    • Reply
      Janine Ripper
      January 2, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      Oh I’m so glad I could help. Happy birthday for your upcoming birthday btw!! I hope you have something wonderful planned.

  • Reply
    March 11, 2016 at 11:56 am

    This is such a wonderful message Jannie..I love where I am right now and what I have become.I am not perfect but I wouldn’t want to go back to my early 20s or to being a teenager anymore..I love being where I am because all my life in some way of the other I have worked to be here and good or bad, I’m loving the experience and ease that comes with each passing year

  • Reply
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