Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Feelings of hopelessness may be due to depression, not aging
Q: Maybe you are too young to understand this, but what does one do when getting old? I don't have the energy I once had. My quality of life is going down. I need to find a better job but I am getting nowhere. The future seems so bleak. There is nothing to look forward to. How do I cope with the next 20 years of misery?
Getting Old and Hating It
A: Please get screened for depression. I do understand — if not how it feels to be old, then at least to be aging, since my arms aren't long enough for me to read fine print anymore, my first few steps out of a chair are mincing followed by limping before it turns into walking, and my metabolism departed one day without even leaving a note.
Yet the future looks more interesting than it ever has — and not because what faces me personally is exceptional. It's because the longer we occupy Earth, the more knowledge we have about what it has to offer. A lot of it is painful, sure, but a lot is brilliant. You have this knowledge, too.
It's hard to take advantage of it, though, when you're under a cloud of hopelessness, one that's quite possibly a medical condition. So please address your hopelessness not as age-related (and therefore inevitable), but instead as an independent problem that needs your attention.
Stand up for aging among friends who bash it
Q: I loved your answer (and agree "Getting old" sounds depressed). My issue: I have a few friends who lately are complaining A LOT about how old they feel. We're all the same age, early 40s. It's beginning to depress me to hear that so repeatedly. Any response I could give them, besides, "Growing older is better than the alternative"?
A: Why not embrace it? Stick up for your age the way you'd stick up for an absent friend who was being trashed in your presence. Start by noting what's great about not being 25 anymore. (There's a lot, by my count.)
Let girlfriend know marriage will never be an option
Q: I've decided I don't want to get married, ever. The reasons for this are numerous and serious, and I know I'm not going to change my mind.
I'm not sure how to reveal this to my girlfriend, whom I've been dating for more than a year. I can easily imagine her interpreting this as my wanting to break up, which I don't. What do you suggest?
Don't Want to Get Married
A: Tell her, as soon as you have time to discuss it fully, and include your reasons and also your fear that she will interpret this as your wanting to break up.
I can't see any reason for you not to tell her other than to buy time for your happy status quo. If I see it that way, then you can expect she will, too — and setting her up to feel deceived and used is not the way to keep your relationship humming merrily along after your big announcement.
She might break up with you no matter what, but your willingness to be honest with her at your own risk gives you a thread of a chance.