The hottest and latest trend to be hitting social media (at least Facebook as I can’t speak for other social media websites) seems to be something called “the decade challenge” or whatever. The “challenge” involves finding and posting a picture of yourself from ten years ago, way back in 2009. The only “challenge” to it seems to be finding a decent picture of yourself from a literal decade ago and then maybe having the courage to post it. I don’t really know what the actual point of doing this is because all it seems to accomplish is either 1. showing how you haven’t aged at all making everyone else feel like shit or 2.showing how terribly you’ve aged in the past ten years and making everyone else feel better about themselves. You now look like a decrepit catchers mitt and how the hell did ten laps around the sun affect you that badly? The decade challenge doesn’t seem to have any positives to it at all except perhaps to get some well-needed schadenfreude in on your “friends.”
As you can tell I hate it. I always hate social media trends but this one is even worse. I think it’s because I’m strongly in denial about the fact that I’m getting older. I’ve been tossing around the idea of a “getting older sucks” blog post, but have been deliberately and purposefully in denial about the fact. “I would write a post about getting older sucking,” I think to myself, “but I’m not actually old yet! Who am I to write about that topic at the fresh young age of 33!” I’m constantly lying to myself and knowing that I’m lying to myself feels especially awful.
Denial until this “challenge” that is. With everyone around my age spamming pics of themselves ten years ago I can’t be in denial about it. While I myself don’t feel old, and when I look in the mirror I don’t think I look old, everyone around my age group has seemingly aged terribly in the past ten years. Who am I to deny this fact? I’ve certainly aged terribly as well and just aren’t aware of it or am just in denial about it.
As stated I’m 33 and I’ve always viewed this as the start of getting old, at least that’s how I thought about it as a kid. The thirties are when you’re literally and undeniably an adult. Your life is set. Your dreams have either been accomplished or you’ll never accomplish them. The thirties is when you’re past the point of turning back. You’re well on the road to middle age, old age, and death. You can’t turn back or change anything about your life when you’re past thirty. It was a bleak outlook.
Obviously I don’t feel that way now that I’m in the thick of the shit that is The Thirties. I tell myself —— who still feels like an ignorant teenager — that, no, the thirties aren’t old! Maybe you’re “old” when you’re in your forties or even fifties! Or maybe there is no such thing as being old! But then I think of my grandma who can barely walk, whose hands look like those of a skeleton with just a thin layer of skin draped over the bones. She is frail and her mind isn’t what it used to be. Being old is undeniably a thing, but it doesn’t have a clear beginning. It just slowly creeps up on you so you have a hard time considering when you “start” being old. Since I’m in my thirties, I still feel this point is a long way away even though my beard is irreversibly grey and the bags under my eyes are becoming more pronounced.
Most of my friends are the same age as I am, give or take a few years. Seeing their decade pictures on Facebook is like a mirror held directly up to me. People that are the same age as me look old. Even the ones that don’t exactly look old look changed; they don’t look the same as they did ten years ago, even if they still appear young.
One of my friends still looks pretty young, and his picture from a decade ago is framed in the exact same way making a comparison very easy. His hair is longer now and he hasn’t gotten fat, but around his eyes are unmistakable wrinkles that weren’t around in the photo from ten years ago. He is one of the people that don’t look old, but where something is definitely happening with time. He’s on the verge of looking old even if he isn’t quite there yet.
Another girl I know looks nearly the same as ten years ago, but with the same telltale wrinkles around her eyes. Her cheeks are a little fuller and saggier than from 2009, but she is still youthful and pretty. Once again time is working slowly and even if she doesn’t look old yet, you know her 2029 pictures will be terrible.
One guy who I totally describe as “a hipster” used to be very tall, thin, and wore glasses: the classic hipster. He only listens to music on vinyl. He only listens to music you’ve never heard of. His picture is now of a kinda chubby, “dad-looking” person even though he has no kids. He now has a slight double chin. His hair looks to be thinning. He wears sweaters that are of the classic “dad-style”. He tucks his shirts in. His picture is that of a classic old person who seems oblivious to the fact that he’s old. He’s my age. And he is unmistakably old.
I don’t think other age groups have this issue with the decade challenge. If you’re in your twenties your past pictures will be of a teenager. You’re now an adult, congrats! And if you’re in your forties or fifties I’m assuming you look about the same as you did ten years prior. But the thirties? Now we’re comparing pictures of an old thirty-year-old to a fresh and young twenty-year-old. This decade seems to take the most toll on both body and mind and people outside of this age group can’t appreciate the pure hell of it.
As for myself, how am I different from ten years ago? I don’t know. I think I look the same. Luckily I’m not the type of person to have tons of pictures of myself, and those that do exist are buried and forgotten somewhere I’m not aware of. Perhaps they’re on hard-drives, forgotten/lost SD cards, or in family picture albums somewhere. This is nice because I can have plausible deniability as to how much I’ve aged in the past decade. I can’t see myself from 2009 so I don’t know. And I’m fine with that. But it’s hard to ignore the slew of people on social media posting pictures from a decade ago that you’re the same age as. Some look old, and if they don’t look old, you can still see time making it’s slight and permanent cuts in their faces, slowly but surely carving them with the same patience that carved the Grand Canyon. Even if you’re spared this decade, the next one will get you. And if not that one, surely the one after that. Or the one after that. The decade challenge fucking sucks.