Gerascophobia: a Ticking Time-bomb of a Silent Dream Killer

The only thing worse than FOMO is the fear that you’ve already missed out — on every single thing.

Shaunta Grimes
5 min readMay 29, 2018

Photo by zane carter on Unsplash

So, Zach wrote a thing last night. And it included this paragraph:

I’m almost 30. 30 is old. I’ve written about this time and time again, but I honestly can’t quite shake the existential dread of reaching this milestone. 30 is adulthood. 30 is no longer young. 30 is when you have to pack away all of the dreams. 30 is when the fire goes out, and you wait for the embers to die.

And also this:

I’m a firm believer that there are things that you’re supposed to experience when you’re young. Things that can happen only when you’re young. Like being a Rhodes Scholar, or having a summer love, or going to a Taylor Swift concert, or having a grand, world-crossing adventure, going to Coachella, going to Burning Man.

And I thought . . . wow, life is really all about perspective. And perspective can be really, really self-limiting.

I was also prompted to look up what the fear of aging is called. It’s gerascophobia, in case you’re curious.

In the mid-1990s when I was three years younger than Zach is now — when I was twenty-four years old — my mother died. It wasn’t exactly sudden, but it felt like it to me. One minute she was just my mom. I’d never even thought about her mortality. The next she had cancer that had already metastasized by the time they found it.

She found a lump. She got sick. And a year later? She was dead from breast cancer.

I was twenty-four and she was forty-eight. I was struck by the idea that when she was my age, she was half done with her life. And by how absurdly young forty-eight was to be dead.

As a result, thirty did not feel old to me.

Forty did not feel old to me.

Forty-six doesn’t feel old to me.

I definitely don’t have gerascophobia.

I have . . . whatever you call the fear of dying young. (I also have a very healthy dose of…

Shaunta Grimes

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