Here’s a fundamental (and comforting) truth that I picked up along the way: barring a total psychological or physiological calamity, you will always feel like you. You go through life as the person you are and have always been, even as the external packaging deteriorates.
Growing up in the place I live now, give or take a few miles, I see people I knew as fellow kids who are now fellow middle-aged folk. Sometimes when our paths cross I don’t recognize them, so stunning has been their transformation. I, on the other hand, perceive myself unaltered by the hand of time, because I’ve been present for my own metamorphosis, which when observed day to day, it is sufficiently gradual as to be imperceptible. (Actually, from my POV, squarely inside my immutable self, it is non-existent).
I’m passing this along because I thought you might be surprised to know just how intact the essential you is. Emotions -hope, fatigue, anger, love-they feel the same. That wrinkled face staring back at you one day in the mirror will take you by terrible surprise because you will still feel like you do right now.
Feelings, the depth of them, the fullness of them, they don’t ditch you the way 20/20 vision and skin elasticity does. You will still have those moments when life overwhelms you with its sweetness. You will feel like climbing out on your roof and looking up at the stars, or doing a cannonball off the diving board. If you are lucky, you don’t quite catch yourself in time.