sixtyandme logo
We are community supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Growing Older the Way I Was When I Was Young Is Just Too Damn Hard

By Fran Braga Meininger June 26, 2023 Mindset

I’ve always been a high energy, hyperactive, super vigilant, take charge, independent woman. The difference is, now I’m also an aging woman, and that one undeniable fact has recently caused me to rethink how I approach life.

I’ve always been able to muster my determination and take on whatever presented itself as my next challenge, in fact, I’ve thrived on it. I’ve consistently taken on too much, accepted challenges that required me to focus all my energy on my job, to the detriment of my health, relationships and sometimes, my sanity. I’ve stepped in to shoulder responsibility for those I love, despite having an already full schedule, shoe horning it in and pushing harder, in hopes of bending the constraints of time.

I’ve lived by schedules, plans and goals, with extremely high, and sometimes impossible, expectations and standards, always anticipating what could happen and making alternative plans, just in case.

It’s been exhausting. But as a young woman, it was doable, not advisable nor beneficial, but doable. Now, however, I’m beginning to fray at the edges in my effort to make it so.

Accepting this reality is, however, only the first step to making lifestyle changes and different choices for my future. I also need to change how I see my role within my inner circle, my professional persona and the world on the grand scale.

I’ve spent some time on this conundrum and have come up with some possibilities. I share them here, in hopes that those of you who might be coming to the same conclusions might feel seen and be motivated to engage in some healthy revisions of your own, along with me.

Energy Is a Finite Commodity

It always has been, but in my younger life I seemed to have plenty. But now, I feel the need to allocate it differently. For me, that includes physical exercise, a reasonable amount of sleep, my commitment to a part time job as a chef and creating content for the editors who count on me at the top of the list, followed by quality time with my friends and loved ones, volunteer work, personal development and recreation.

Fulfillment, Emotional Rewards and Getting My Needs Met Matters More

I used to sacrifice myself whenever necessary, putting my needs last. I now see the ramifications of that habit and have committed to putting my time and energy toward what pays me back. For me, prioritizing my physical and emotional wellbeing and my mental health, means time alone, savoring the solitude of nature, spending time with those who value me and my company, down time to unplug and time to write, not for publication but for the expression of my soul.

Responding Differently to the Needs of Others Opens Up Room for Me

I’m not Mighty Mouse, and I don’t need to rush in to save the day. I must remember not every outcome depends on me. Life goes on, people figure it out and there are numerous alternative resources available beyond mine. I need to practice the pause when I see a need, or at least wait until I’m asked to help before I decide to do so.

Sometimes Things Will Fall Apart, But It Will Ultimately Be All Right

I can’t prepare for, nor prevent, every calamity in life. Reasonable preparations make sense, packing my go bag during fire season, wearing my seatbelt, exercising to maintain my strength and mobility all make sense. However, being hyper vigilant and working myself into a lather trying to put all the Plan B’s in place is counterproductive and futile.

It bears pointing out that these changes are significant and will not happen overnight. But coming to grips with the need for them and keeping them forefront in my mind is a good first step.

I’m quite sure as I evolve, the resulting shift in how I feel, how much more time and energy I have and the eventual sigh of relief will keep me moving in the right direction. I have no doubt learning to live at a more reasonable pace, as the woman I am now will be the worthwhile reward.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you always felt like a to-go person for everybody and everything? How have you handled that? Has it worn on you as you’ve aged? What type of shift are you planning to do to regain your sense of self?

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I could have written this article word for word. Somewhat oddly, when I retired and went from 100 miles (and working what seemed 24/7) an hour to a dead stop health issues began to occur. Perhaps putting the brakes on too quickly was not the best of ideas.

For me, I found myself somewhat lost as I navigate my way through the continued years of retirement. So I jumped into various forms of volunteer work but the kind that carried a lot of responsibility and weight in the community. It was a carry over from my paying job. I completed my terms of service and walked away. It was too much and, as my personality dictates, I was working full force.

Now more than ever I realize how on my on I am and the only responsibility I have is for myself. I have very little family and the family I do have live a long way off. Certainly I have considered moving to be close to a family member, however, the cost of living/homes in the areas my family live make it prohibitive. Believe me I have tried. Ad nauseam.

Having no children (dearly wanted them but life said that was not in the cards) so I looked to my niece and nephew who I poured myself into though they lived, and still do live, a good 5+ hour flight away. They both have their own families now and I feel (my feelings) I have been lowered on the totem poll. That is fair of course. Just takes an adjustment period.

A bit off the subject of slowing down and thinking of myself more but the realism of being alone has come into the picture. A great majority of the dear friends I had through my career have all but vanished. Retirement took most of them to move closer to their children.

I am not sure how to conclude this. Perhaps it will not resonate with anyone but I felt compelled to write my feelings.


MCH. You resonate with me and I’ll bet many others of us who are childless not by choice and worked very hard all our lives. The niece and nephews I devoted myself to when they were young and I have no contact (I have a very dysfunctional family with siblings that never wanted me to join their little twosome when I was born) at all.

I’m wondering for you, if you could move to be close to your siblings would you be low on the totem pole? Maybe you’re close though so I’m totally wrong.

I’m glad you wrote your feelings. More people need to hear our stories so that we are not completely marginalized by mainstream society.


JP thank you for your reply and nicely written. I do have two brothers who are both older. Simply by circumstance we have all lived a long way apart since we were in our later teens. Frankly I do not know them very well. I have gone back to the small town where we grew up (only place that fits well financially) and one brother lives, to see about moving back. My brother and I are much like old acquaintances we have not seen in a long time. It did not go especially well.

That, however, is something that can be worked on. Honestly I do not get the right “feeling” from being around him. Here too I realize that feeling may be from me and being uncomfortable.

In a million years with the life I have led I never expected to be in this place at this time in my live. Speaking for me only, I believe I have to get my mind in a better place, stop looking for reasons to not do something and try harder. At least then I can know I have tried my various options. All of that said I have looked at just about every option that even has a sense of reality.

You and I have similarities. How are you planning your future? For future reference I have visited a number of independent, assisted and so on facilities just in case. Now that is an eye opener. Nothing wrong with them at all. Just never expected to even consider such. Thank you JP!


So helpful to remember and review how we have lived and how we now want to live.


I can fully empathise with Frans article! If that is how you have always used your apparently boundless energy it is very difficult to change and reprioritize towards yourself. I am learning to step back a bit and tosave some energy for me…… with occasional slip ups!!

Kim Long

THANK YOU for this article. Yes, I have been the go to person for several people in my life and as I have aged I have had to stop the madness. People will find alternate ways to resolve their issues crisis etc if i stop being so handy to help all the time. I describe it as me enabling the non helpless. Its easy to not figure out things yourself when there is someone easily available to do the heavy lifting for you. I have heard of a saying that goes like this: procrastination on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

Beth E Severson

Just reading that was exhausting. Not my experience at all, never having been an AType personality. Cannot relate.


Lucky you.


I agree. I have ME and consider it an achievement if I manage two days tasks in a row. Reading that has drained me let alone doing it. 😴😴

1 2 3

The Author

Fran Braga Meininger writes personal narratives about the years beyond youth, a time in a woman’s life that can be vibrant, fulfilling, and wonderful, despite – or perhaps because of – all that comes with age. She lives in northern California where she hikes, bikes and lives life in big bites. You can visit her website at

You Might Also Like