What’s in an age?

Helen mirren - age just a number

Is it just me or does anyone else feel like they are constantly reading things written by people ten or fifteen years younger than themselves bemoaning how middle age is upon them and after that everything must wither and die? Unless there are a lot of people out there who truly believe that they are destined to kick the bucket the day they turn 60 then a lot of people are obsessed with “youth”.

OK, understandable, fair enough, but for me, the benchmark of ‘youth’ is not looking back ten or fifteen years into the past from where I’m at right now, but looking ten, fifteen years into the future.

Maybe the story is very different for a childless woman who’s biological clock has started ticking – personally I never really felt that pressure to become a mother by a certain age. I figured it’ll happen when it happens and if it doesn’t happen then it wasn’t meant to be. In the event it happened when I was 38. And then again when I was 40.

I’m not particularly phased by the accusation ‘you’re having a mid-life crisis’ either. A ‘mid-life crisis’ is society’s way of containing how we feel about ourselves in my opinion; keeping us in our place – telling us “you’re not allowed to have that kind of fun any more – you’re an embarrassment”.

I say, screw that, mid-life is what happens in that hectic, mundane, demanding, settled period of life when you are actually, in the scheme of things, still very young, but getting to grips with ‘adulting’: parenting little children, getting a mortgage, establishing a career, probably running around trying to be all things to all people. During that time we put a lot of things on the back burner and sometimes 15 years goes by in the blink of an eye.

It’s in the hiatus that you finally get to have a breather and start to remember who you used to be, what you used to love, what you always wanted to do but never got around to or never had the confidence to try.

Sure we do mature and develop and change. Sometimes tastes change, sometimes they stay the same. Later on we have life experience, wisdom, a greater sense of peace with, and confidence in ourselves. To also feel and act young – surely that is the best of both worlds (with a few laughter lines thrown in).

Why should society say (particularly to women) hide yourself away now; unless you’re Gwyneth Paltrow or Stella McCartney, never be seen in a skirt of a certain length; do what’s expected, stick to Radio 2, reduce the length of your hair; never ever consider doing anything reckless or taking up extreme sports; put on a cardie and some comfortable shoes….

Personally I don’t ever want to look back and regret the fact that I never threw caution to the wind and followed my instincts to fulfil certain ambitions. I’m not suggesting that someone who, for example, suffers from aching joints choose to run a marathon – I just hate the thought of feeling restricted from doing anything purely by reason of age alone.

 

18 thoughts on “What’s in an age?

  1. Sam,

    Who has accused you of having a mid-life crisis? I hope you punched them.

    I know what you mean about feeling like everyone else in the world is at least a decade younger. I sometimes wish I were young again, but then I like my life now. I feel that my years and my experiences, particularly the bad and challenging ones have brought a certain calm, maturity and wisdom that I feel proud of.

    Pen x
    Pen recently posted…Being a single mom has made me a commitment phobeMy Profile

    • I guess the secret is, embrace what you’ve got, what you’ve accumulated over the years both spiritually and materially, reject the idea of regret and failure because life’s too short for that and, as you say, always remember that our challenges are what add each layer to our personalities and life stories. You’re definitely right to feel proud X

  2. I think it’s one of the many daft and pointless things our society tell us we should worry about. In some ways it surprises me I am in my 30s but I don’t feel a day over 24, and will probably feel the same when I’m in my 70s haha though maybe I wil be a slightly more achey! My aunt turns 70 5his year and is still Hill climbing all over the world so if she can do it so can I 🙂 xx
    Caroline (Becoming a SAHM) recently posted…Where to go on holiday in Dorset with toddlersMy Profile

    • I guess the age you feel in your head will gradually increase – I remember my Nana, when she was in her mid-70s telling us that she was going to be ’60 again’ on the next birthday – for her, at that point, 60 was the age she looked back on with great fondness and good memories. That’s something to hold on to when you turn 45! :-). Also, go Caroline’s auntie! (My mum and dad and their friends – all 70 something – took a three day cycling trip round the Isle of Wight a couple of weeks ago, which is, by all accounts, incredibly hilly!) Xx

  3. I am going to grow old so disgracefully. There is no way you’ll catch me playing the ‘I’m too old’ card. You’re right that when we are ‘middle aged’ we are so busy being mothers and working and spinning all those plates that you forget who you really are for a while. As you get older, hopefully you re-discover yourself. That’s the time to throw caution to the wind and say ‘it’s now or never’. Great post and how hot is Helen Mirren anyway! Tor x #truthabout
    teacuptoria recently posted…Big EmotionsMy Profile

    • I love the idea of growing old disgracefully! I’m booking my weekend in Ibiza for 2036 🙂 It reminds me of that poem ‘Warning: when I am an old woman I shall wear purple’ by Jenny Joseph. I’m glad you really get where I’m coming from with this – and yeah, isn’t Helen Mirren super hot?! Not sure how old she was when this picture was taken but she’s 71 now so I reckon she was in her 60s. Something to aspire to! 🙂 X

    • In that case I think you’re probably too hung up on some sort of arbitrary achievement calendar! It’s easy to get sucked into that, I admit – I got married (to an alcoholic) at the age of 29 partly because it’s what all my friends were doing (not getting married to alcoholics, just getting married) and I felt the need to have that life goal under the belt so to speak by the age of 30. I got divorced 7 months later. #Nuffsaid

  4. After 2 days gardening, my 47 year old bod is aching. I think to have a proper mid life crisis you need energy. I also think a midlife crisis is a reaction to change and women adapt better than men, (sorry guys, we just change more biologically). What I’m trying to say is aging is unavoidable and so is change. How we deal with these things is personal and I totally agree with you Sam, I’m not going down with out colour and a fight. I plan on aging disgracefully if I can get off the sofa, that is!

    • I do think the term ‘mid-life crisis’ always used to be attributed to 40 something men who suddenly dumped their similarly aged wives for a 22 year old and bought themselves a sports car (all of which I guess does involve having energy 🙂 ) but now it seems to be all about anyone being seen to be doing something considered inappropriate for their age (which seems out of character all of a sudden). Interesting point about women adapting better than men – we definitely change a lot more physically and biologically throughout a lifetime. Xx

      • Omg, I haven’t moved with the times. I’m still trapped in the 80’s/90’s!!!! Interestingly a time before I became a parent. I didn’t realise that actual judgement was actually being reigned on everyone for having fun and expressing individually. I thought my teenagers were just being rude. Ha, ignorance is bliss.

  5. I relished every word of this post Sam – and I should show it to Ross with the amount of complaining he has done about his age over the last year or so. To me, age is not a number – it is a state of mind! A great post. I am so with you!

    • So glad this is resonating with so many people! I definitely find it irritating when people younger than me bemoan their age! It seems totally short sighted and kind of ungrateful – not that I’m saying that’s the case with Ross! Thanks for reading X

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