When I was in sixth grade, our class received a pamphlet about puberty called “Your Changing Body.” It was a real cursory overview of the whole puberty process and was sponsored by Procter & Gamble because not even the most vulnerable parts of our adolescence are safe from the scourge of advertising. Unsurprisingly, they recommended fixing the problems that come with puberty by purchasing and using P&G products. “Has acne turned your face into a pepperoni pizza? Clearasil will clear that right up!” “Are your hormones and the perils of puberty turning you into an awkward, panic-stricken mess? Eat your feelings away with a can of cheddar cheese-flavored Pringles!” Real helpful advice like that.
The pamphlet went over the individual changes boys and girls undergo, provided reassurance that everything will be fine if you buy Procter and Gamble products, and ended with the implication that the process comes to a definitive end sometime in your teen years. As we all know, though, that process never truly ends. Puberty may be long behind us, but our bodies are constantly changing.
The problem is, nobody ever really tells you about the changes your body goes through in the postgrad stage of your life, and it’s high time we finally addressed them in one, convenient spot. After all, if we’re going to give junior high students a heads up about their impending transition from a cute little kid into a hideous teenager, it’s only fair to warn you, the twenty or thirty-something postgrad, about the gradual decay your body is experiencing now that your glory days are long gone. So what changes can you expect to see?
Let’s start from the top. Hopefully, you’re not too attached to the hair on your head because that’s often the first victim of the aging process. You’re going to look in the mirror one day and start seeing some gray hairs. When you do, your heart will sink as you come to the realization that not only are you actually old, but you look it too.
But that’s okay, because at least having gray hair means you still have some on your head. The same can’t be said for the fellas who look in the mirror and start to notice their hairline is starting to disappear, or that there isn’t any hair growing on the top of their head anymore. Congratulations, you’re now a part of the bald brotherhood! You can either embrace the baldness or make futile attempts to try to cover it up. Everyone’s going to notice no matter what you do, so you might as well choose the route that won’t result in universal mockery.
Everything hurts. EVERYTHING. If you try to go on any sort of fitness regimen, you’ll be entering a world of pain and won’t be escaping for quite some time. Lifting weights causes soreness for days. A long run will turn your legs into Jell-O. Playing any sort of sport will leave you practically immobile the next day and will make you reconsider criticizing a professional athlete the next time they sit out a game to rest or rehab a minor injury.
And that’s even if you’re able to exercise in the first place! Most likely, your day full of sitting in your commute and office, eating carry out and salty snacks, and going out to happy hour leaves you with no time or energy to work out. As a result, you find yourself slowly falling out of shape and perpetually promising yourself that you’ll eventually start hitting the gym again. You won’t though, so you’ll just resign to being a schlub for the rest of your life.
Even worse than feeling sore from exercising is the random pain you’ll experience from completing even the most mundane tasks. Bending over in slightly the wrong way might cause back pains that last the rest of your life. You might feel pain in your feet from something as simple as walking up and down stairs. Knee pain is an inevitable part of life you will experience at some point or another. That’s all part of the aging process, though. Your body gets old and rickety, starts to fall apart, and soon enough it’ll be nothing but a pile of disjointed limbs held together by string, rubber bands, and the strongest painkiller your doctor will prescribe.
You might as well remove this word from your vocabulary because it’s non-existent for you now. Anything and everything will have you feel like you gained five pounds after eating it, no matter how minuscule the portion size. If you haven’t adjusted your eating habits since college ended, there’s a good chance you are obese by now.
We all know that hangovers become more painful and unbearable with age. But even your consumption abilities dwindle as you head into the twilight years of your late twenties. Throwing back three or four beers used to serve as the appetizer for the rest of your night’s drinking and raging. Now those drinks will just make you drowsy. Any sort of prolonged binge drinking, especially if it takes place during the daytime, will put you in a coma. I guess that’s why alcohol is considered a depressant, though, because it’s a reflection of how depressing it is that you can’t party like you used to.
In college, you were likely having multiple encounters on the days that ended in “Y” and if you weren’t, that was considered an off day. But you’re past your prime now, and you’re not going to be bumpin’ uglies at a rate that’s even remotely close to that anymore. The sessions get shorter and the refractory period grows longer as times wears on, and that’s just on the nights when both you and your partner have the energy or desire to throw down for the no-pants dance. And don’t forget about the looming threat of impotency! Fortunately, there are pills to combat all that, but you take those with the possibility of suffering side effects that range from heart attacks to hard-ons that doctors might have to amputate if they can’t get it soft again.
Not even our senses, the physiological basis of our very being, are immune to the rigors of aging. Your eyesight has the potential to weaken to the point where you might not even be allowed to drive anymore. For added fun, you might be afflicted with a torn or detached retina, something that happens for no discernible reason. Years of listening to crappy music at loud volumes will dull your hearing and cause ringing in your ears that last for what seems like forever. Even taste buds can be lost over time! Have you ever seen an old person load a plate of food with more salt than the Khewra Salt Mines can hold? That’s because they’ve lost so many of their taste buds that they have to put that much salt on their food to experience even the faintest hint of flavor. Your sense of touch should remain largely intact, though, which is good because feeling yourself might be the only way to keep yourself from going insane as you grow older and more horrible shit happens to your body.
Your body will need and demand sleep from you more than ever once you leave college. It doesn’t care if you’re watching a game on TV and it runs past 10:00 p.m. local time; it’s going to shut itself down and if you don’t get your ass in bed, you’re going to end up spending the night passed out sitting up in your recliner. Despite this, any sleep you get seems to be restless so you’ll wake up still feeling tired and wanting to sleep in for another twelve hours or so. And if you don’t ingest some sort of caffeine before work, you’re going to spend the day being a husk of yourself, which is to say only slightly more unproductive than usual.
That about covers it for now! The fun part of all this is that as bad as you feel now, the aging process and transformation of your body will never end and will continue to worsen until the day you die. There is no upside to any of this. Enjoy the rest of your pain-ridden existence!.