Growing Older: Reader Essay by Catherine Ryan

From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Winter 2017

W2017_GrowingOlderCatherineRyan_Inline300 I always assumed I would struggle defiantly with the inevitability of aging. I braced for the demise. Once upon it, however, I was astonished to feel something akin to relief, even joy. At last, I could be my authentic self. Shakespeare’s celebrated quote, “To thine own self, be true” had become my reality. What a feeling!

From my teens through my 40s, life was fraught with Sturm und Drang. I never felt at home in my own skin. I felt out of touch, dramatically different from others (and not in a good way), and downright doomed to a life of DIS-ease.

Somewhere around my mid-50s things began to change. I fretted less about what others thought of me, how they viewed by behavior, my opinions, and even—shock of shocks—my body.

In spite of the furrows in my brow, the appalling appearance of a barely visible mustache, and oh-so-many of those unsightly age spots, I did not become unhinged. Sure, I was miffed about the physical changes, but I was way more delighted by the emotional changes. I’m no longer afraid to speak my truth, to shine my light, and use my power.

I’ll take inner peace over perky breasts any day.

- Catherine Ryan (B.A. ’77, M.P.A. ’08), St. Paul

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