Hartley Brody

Avoiding Aging

Staying youngAs a 21-year-old about to finish school and join the workforce full time, I’ve started coming to terms with the fact that I’m becoming a grown-up.

And while that is cool in a lot of ways, it’s also really terrifying. I mean, grown-ups are just so… old, and no one wants to get old.

It’s gotten me thinking about the stuff I’ve been doing since I was a kid, but that grown-ups don’t seem to do as much of.

I made a list of what I came up with, to help remind me of all the things I should do every year until I die – no matter how old I am.

I’ve made this list mostly for myself – to help keep me defy that whole “getting old” process. But I figured other grown-ups out there might value from this as well.

1. Make Something with Your Bare Hands

When we’re younger, we build all sorts of things – block towers, sand castles, LEGO sets – but once we get old, we seem to lose our ability to actually build something ourselves.

It could be something complex like home renovations, or something simple like arts & crafts with your kids. It doesn’t have to be useful, but bonus points if it is. Either way, building something from nothing allows you to be creative and constructive. Plus, it feels great to have something tangible to show off when you’re all done.

2. Jump Down the Stairs

ways to stay youngHow often did you actually use the bottom steps on a staircase in elementary school? Probably not that much.

But now you use it all the time! Look at you getting old…

Jumping down the stairs every once in awhile is a fun way to brighten your day and feel slightly less like a grown-up.

3. Travel to a New Place

Whether it was visiting far-away relatives or going on field trips, being in a totally new place was always exciting for me as kid. It aroused my curiosity, and it gave me a chance to explore and discover new things.

It’s okay to have familiar stomping grounds, but you should adventure to some new place every year. You don’t want your life’s scenery to get too stale.

4. Stay Out in Nature for an Extended Period of Time

You don’t have to totally rough it, a cabin is fine. But make sure you spend some time breathing fresh air and getting a little dirty. It’s amazing how refreshing and invigorating it can be.

Go swimming in a pond, lake or ocean. Go on a hike or a mountain bike ride. Go canoeing or kayaking. Climb a tree. Take in great views. Chase animals.

You remember how exciting summer camp was? Don’t let that youthful excitement slip away.

5. Drink More Than You Should

As someone (who will remain nameless) recently told me when I was heading back to school to finish my senior year:

“Hartley, you’re never going to look back on your time in college and think ‘man, I shouldn’t have gotten as drunk as much as I did,’ but you will look back and regret not taking advantage of every opportunity to do so.”

Drinking is a lot of fun, and there’s no need for that fun to end once you leave school.

Make sure you take a few evenings every year to feel that liquid courage coursing through your veins. Dance until you lose your dignity. Give the keys to someone else and enjoy the experience of totally losing your inhibitions.

Just make sure you have some asprin and a glass of water waiting by your bedside.

6. Do Something That Scares You

Do something that takes you way outside your comfort zone and gets your adrenaline pumping. This could mean trying something you didn’t think you can do, or doing something really bad ass.

Go sky diving, or bungee jumping. Do a Tough Mudder or an Ironman. Go alpine skiing or mountaineering. Learn how to race cars. Whatever it is, make sure you’re getting a dose of adrenaline, and experiencing that invigorating excitement – or terror.

avoiding growing up

This list isn’t meant to be metaphysical or introspective. It’s meant to be an actionable checklist to help you stay in touch with your youthful side – even in the face of becoming a grown-up.

What’re some things from your youth that you wish you still did?

Images from the fantastic children’s book: Grown-Ups Get to Do All the Driving