Over 40? Avoid These 40 Things If You Don’t Want to Feel Old

Whatever you do, do not text a teenager emojis.

Over 40? Avoid These 40 Things If You Don’t Want to Feel Old

Have you ever heard the timeless saying, “You’re only as old as you feel?” Well, we hate to break it to you, but it’s just not true. Seriously, no matter how hip or cool you think you are, you probably couldn’t decipher a single text conversation between teenagers these days and your lower back pain probably gives your age away every morning. Though getting older is one of those things you simply can’t avoid, you don’t have to be reminded of it constantly. Here are 40 things you should never do if you’re over 40 and want to stay in a more youthful mental place.

Going to rock festivals

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Festivals like Bonnaroo, Pitchfork, and Lollapalooza always sound like great ideas in theory. But then you get there, and it’s all endless lines and Porta-Potties and overpriced beer. Standing on your feet all day while surrounded by strangers invading your personal space is a young person’s game.

Skimping on sleep

Man Lying Awake in Bed Because He Can't Sleep, things that make you feel old over 40 Shutterstock

Four hours of sleep or less? That might’ve been fine when you were in your teens or 20s. But try something like that now, and you’ll get a brutal reminder that your sleep bank isn’t like a checking account with overdraft protection. You need a solid eight hours or your brain and body will revolt against you.

Googling your symptoms

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As a general rule, Googling symptoms is a bad idea. Even if you don’t fall into a rabbit hole of disease anxiety, you’re only going to feel old and sickly. If you have worrying symptoms, see a doctor. Don’t go looking for evidence that you’re hobbling towards the grave.

Having boozy weekends

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A few glasses of wine? No problem! A bunch of mimosas followed by a Moscow Mule or two, and then some Jagermeister shots for the road? You’re going to wake up feeling like you gargled sawdust and broken glass before being trampled by a herd of angry buffalo.

Playing in the park with toddlers

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Keeping up with a 4-year-old as they slither through climbers and crawl tubes like spider monkeys is no one’s idea of a good time. And the older you get, the more impossible it becomes. You don’t want to join the older parents on the park bench, but everything in your throbbing, overtaxed body is begging for it.

Looking up old high school friends on Facebook

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If you haven’t seen your old high school friends in decades and you think Facebook is a great way to see what their lives look like today, you may want to reconsider this impulse. They’re not going to be quite as young as you remember. And the horrifying evidence that your old high school friends are, in fact, growing noticeably older will lead you to an even more traumatizing reality: This can only mean that you’re getting older, too!

Watching Friends reruns 

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It can be fun to revisit that feel-good sitcom of six New York friends from the ’90s and early aughts…until you start noticing how much the world has changed since the show first aired in 1994. Nobody dresses that way anymore, or has those haircuts. Most of the plots would be entirely different these days because everybody would communicate by text. They’d just be sitting in Central Perk with their noses in their phones. Realizing just how old and out-of-date your favorite sitcom is can lead to the inevitable conclusion that you too must be old and out-of-date.

Growing out your beard

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If it’s been a few years, be prepared for some unexpected grey hairs—probably a lot of grey hairs. If your last beard made you look like Gerard Butler, you might just be shocked to discover that your current beard is more reminiscent of Gandalf the Grey.

Wearing uncomfortable shoes

woman putting on yellow heels, make yourself more attractive Shutterstock/Africa Studio

People in their 20s and even 30s will endure all kinds of foot abuse in the name of fashion, but those kinds of sacrifices seem less justifiable the older you get. Do you really care that much about the admiration of strangers that you’re willing to submit your heels to medieval torture? The only difference between fashionable shoes and a device used by the Spanish Inquisition is that you have to pay for the shoes.

Adopting a puppy

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Puppies are cute, but they’re also a lot of work. They need to be house-trained, and given plenty of exercise, which will invariably involve running around a dog park and shouting, “No, no! Rocky, take that out of your mouth at once! Bad dog, bad dog!” As a young person, having a dog can be a character-building challenge. But at 40 or older, adopting a dog is just adding another responsibility to an already exhausting schedule. Yes, the snuggles are great. Then your pup starts running, and running, and running…

Trying to use emojis in a text conversation

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There are currently 2,823 different emojis in wide circulation, according to the Unicode Standard. And 230 of them were created in 2019. Trying to keep up with what emojis actually mean and how to use them correctly is a full-time job. And the only people with that kind of free time are kids who live rent-free with their parents. Don’t risk becoming the old person who sends an eggplant emoji thinking he’s talking about eggplants.

Watching MTV

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Returning to MTV after a long absence is like going back to a mall you used to frequent in your youth: Get ready to be depressed! All the cool stores are closed, and it’s mostly deserted except for some teens with baggy pants and too many tattoos who think they’re hilarious. That’s what MTV is now. It won’t just make you feel old, you’ll feel like everything you remember is a lost civilization.

Helping a friend move

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Carrying a couch up four flights of stairs because a buddy is too cheap to pay for movers and he promised to pay you with beer and pizza feels like a bad idea even when you’re young. But unloading a U-Haul full of boxes and furniture will ruin your whole week in your 40s. Your body is no longer designed to haul a mattress up to the top floor.

Listening to new music

man meditating with headphones on in a room Alamy

Some people will always be open to discovering new artists and hearing new, more challenging music. But most of us reach 40 and our musical tastes stop evolving. We like what we like, and newfangled tunes just confuse and annoy us.

Going to a party that starts at 9:00 p.m.

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There’s no point in lying to yourself and claiming that a 9:00 p.m. start time for a party sounds in any way reasonable. Maybe it did when you were younger, and any party worth attending would be raging ’til dawn. But it’s time to face facts that 9:00 p.m. sounds more like a great hour to slip into pajamas and watch Netflix rather than leave the house for the evening.

Looking in a magnifying mirror at a hotel bathroom

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You know you shouldn’t look in that mirror. There’s nothing that’s going to pleasantly surprise you. Just stick with the regular ole mirror behind it.

Repeating Saturday Night Live one-liners from the late ’70s

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If you think announcing to a crowd “we are two wild and crazy guys” is a surefire way to get a big laugh, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. And you won’t fare much better if you move into ’80s or ’90s SNL comedy territory either. Lines like “You look mahvelous” or “Makin’ copies” have lost their cultural cache, and only serve to make you feel like an unfunny fossil.

Hanging out at sports bars

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Spoiler alert: The clientele at sports bars typically isn’t middle-aged professionals. They’re young dudes in sports jerseys calling each other “broham” and giving each other high-fives. There’s nothing wrong with downing pitchers of beer and shoveling in plates of hot wings while watching your favorite team, but doing so in the company of people who are still trying to figure out their major is maybe not the crowd for you anymore.

Reading the comments

woman reading a computer Alamy

Rule number one: Just don’t do it. The comments section is where all negativity on the internet lives. All those horrible opinions will just make you sad and confused about why youth culture has gotten so vile and mean-spirited. And then you’ll turn into one of those cranky old people who sneers at kids, assumes the worst of them, and mutters Clint Eastwood-isms like “Get off my lawn!” It’s a cycle of cynicism and despair that you should avoid like the plague.

Exercising without stretching

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Warming up before a workout isn’t just something for professional athletes. As your muscles age, they need more preparation for strenuous exercise. It improves blood flow to your muscles, making them less likely to tear or twist during your workout, and it opens up your blood capillaries, which helps your muscles function at their best. If you don’t dedicate at least a few minutes to stretching prior to every workout, your overstrained and aging muscles will be punishing you for it tomorrow.

Watching YouTube videos of 20-somethings playing video games

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Wait, so let’s get this straight, a guy named “PewDiePie” has made millions just by recording himself playing video games and making smart-alecky comments? That’s… a thing now? A 40-year-old watching YouTube celebs—like DanTDM or CaptainSparklez—is incapable of masking their contempt and confusion, especially if that 40-year-old knows how much these “stars” gross in a year.

Attempting to dance to dubstep

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Even if you were considered a talented dancer back in the day, what constituted as dance music in your youth has changed considerably in recent years. You may have impressed the crowd at your niece’s wedding with your killer robot moves, but legitimate dubstep is an entirely different league altogether.

Printing out your movie or travel tickets

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We understand the sentiment. You just want to be prepared in case your phone dies or you can’t find a solid Wifi signal. But be prepared for people to call you “grandpa” as a result.

Eating a whole pizza by yourself

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A regular-crust pizza has about 35 grams of carbs in every slice. Eating a whole pie in one sitting—and we’ve all been there—can be a gut-buster when you’re young and in reasonable shape. But at 40, making the mistake of eating an entire pie by yourself can leave you feeling like you’ve just swallowed a pillow filled with gravy.

Telling a “be kind, please rewind” joke

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Unless you were alive when Blockbuster was the only way to see the latest new releases in the privacy of your home, nobody is going to appreciate a humorous reference to “be kind, please rewind.” And when they stare back at you with clueless expressions, your attempts to explain why this is so funny, which involves a detailed explanation of how VHS tapes worked and what “rewinding” is, you’re inevitably going to feel like a caveman explaining ancient history with cave drawings.

Having too much information about the weather

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Having a general sense of what the weather will be like today is one thing. Having an hour-by-hour forecast of the changing temperature—including exactly when you’ll need an umbrella and/or a light jacket—is behavior that almost never occurs in people under 30. If someone asks you, “What’s the temperature outside?” And you’re like, “Well, that depends. Let me open up my three weather apps and I’ll see if I can get a consensus,” they’re going to be making some assumptions about your age.

Going on Tinder

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Remember that scene in Star Wars where Obi-Wan Kenobi uses a Jedi mind trick on the Storm Troopers and says, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for?” Yeah, think of that quote any time you’re even remotely tempted to check out Tinder.

Sleeping on the floor, or on a couch

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Any non-bed surface that you’re temporarily using as a bed is not going to do your spine any favors. “Oh, it’ll be fine,” you say. “I’ve slept on plenty of floors before.” The word “before” is very important in this sentence. If “before” means “in my 20s,” your now-40-year-old body is in for a rude awakening.

Watching videos of kids reacting to old technology

Cassette Tape, things that make you feel old after 40 Shutterstock

Watching kids try to make sense of a Walkman is both weirdly entertaining and also a sobering reminder of just how far the world has come since you were a kid and thought technology couldn’t get any better.

Taking selfies

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Selfies come effortlessly to young people. They somehow instinctively know the most flattering angles and the perfect lighting and how to capture themselves at their best. But a 40-year-old trying to take a selfie always manages to catch themselves at weird angles with a few extra chins and dark circles under their eyes and looking older than their years.

Wearing mom or dad jeans

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Jeans are supposed to be comfortable, but when you reach 40, it’s too easy to gravitate towards jeans that advertise your age just by the way they fit. If they’re high-waisted, tapered, and cropped at the ankle, you may have inadvertently dressed yourself in a bona fide pair of Saturday Night Live-approved mom—or dad—jeans.

Binge-watching the latest hit Netflix show

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Do you know what it’s like to be on your fifth hour of television and think, “Only six more hours to go?” You want to think you can make it through to the end of a series, but you really, really can’t.

Correcting someone’s grammar—online

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Don’t be that person. Not only is it obnoxious, it’s putting yourself in a parental/teacher role. Telling somebody, unsolicited, that “it’s ‘you’re,’ not ‘your'” is something only an authority figure would do. Don’t be surprised when they start rolling their eyes and saying, “Whatever, dad.”

Trying to call someone on the phone

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So much of communication these days is done through texting and email. So when you request to actually speak to someone on the phone—or worse yet, call them without warning (and then leave a long message)—you’re in for a very uncomfortable reminder that you’re the “old person” of your social circle.

Seeing your favorite artist in concert

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You might be prepared to see the musician you grew up loving looking a little more gray and wrinkled, but the real surprise will be how much of the audience is made up of gray and wrinkled folks, too.

Saying things like, “Well, it didn’t use to be this way…”

computer teacher helping student, things you should never say to a teacher Shutterstock/ESB Professional

Complaining that the world isn’t exactly like you remember and that’s egregious because everything was just fine the way it was before they went and messed everything up is a very long and convoluted way of saying, “Just want to make sure everyone here knows that I’m older and wiser.”

Becoming obsessed with how many “likes” you have on social media

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Counting your “likes” on Facebook or Instagram isn’t worrisome in and of itself, but there will be a moment when you catch yourself doing it in the middle of a workday, and you’ll be seized by existential panic as you realize, “I’m a 40-year-old adult acting like a teenager!”

Eating taffy

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You loved it as a kid, but at your age, taffy is just going to lead to painful toothaches and a sticky feeling in your mouth that never—seriously, never—goes away. Two weeks later, you’ll still be thinking, “Did I drink a bunch of Elmer’s glue? What is going on in there?”

Dancing in the aisles of a grocery store because an old Cure song is playing

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You’re lost in your own world, immersed in the nostalgic melody of “Boys Don’t Cry” while your body unconsciously reproduces the exact dance moves you perfected at your junior high prom. Suddenly, you realize that everybody in the grocery store is staring at you, with bemused half-grins and expressions that seem to say, “Awww, look at that adorable old guy dancing to that old song.”

Trying to get the band back together

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Calling your old band mates and seeing if they’re up for one more shot of glory is a surefire way to be reminded that life moves on. You may have the same chemistry you did as young rockers, but you may not have the same stamina. Also, you’ll probably have to end your gigs early because everyone has work in the morning, and the drummer has to drive his 4-year-old to preschool. Oh, how times have changed! And for more great over-40 life advice, here are 40 Etiquette Mistakes You’re Too Old to Make After 40.

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