What is age really? As I have gotten older I have been pondering that question a lot more frequently. And the more I think about that question, the more annoyed I get about some people’s ideas and expectations regarding age; especially when they are directed at myself or others in the form of other age related questions.
The first question tends to be asked of a third party and not addressed directly to the subject. It’s typically heard about second hand, at a later date. It is usually asked when behaviors have been exhibited that someone else believes are not appropriate for a particular age bracket.
The Question: “Do you think she will ever act her age?”
My Answer: First of all, why is that any of your business? Besides, I’ve never been this age before so I didn’t know there was a standard set of behaviors. Did I miss a memo? Was there an orientation that I didn’t get invited to? Is there some sort of handbook for being my age? And, do I have to figure this out every single time I have another birthday? Because that sounds exhausting.
That’s the long answer. The short answer is, No, I won’t.
I don’t know where this whole concept started. Where did our society get the idea that because we are getting older we somehow become different people? I may have a few more wrinkles on my face and few more years under my belt, but that does not change who I am. It doesn’t change the clothes I like. (You aren’t getting my Chuck Taylor’s unless you pry them off of my cold dead feet.). It won’t change the music I like to listen to; I’m not going to suddenly turn down the AC/DC and crank up some Perry Como just because I’m a grandma. And I’m not going to stop dancing around in my living room (and sometimes in public) to Bruno Mars or James Brown. Most of all it doesn’t change my sense of humor, my interests or my passion. I am who I am.
As I’ve aged I have certainly grown and some things have changed, mostly things like my outlook on the future, my compassion, my patience. But my personality has not changed. I still like to tell stupid jokes, I still like to hang out and laugh riotously with my favorite people, I still like to dance like no one is watching, and to do dozens of other things that I’ve always enjoyed. No matter how old I get, those things are not going to change. If Steven Tyler and all those other “aging” rock stars can be unashamedly and completely themselves in front of the entire world, then so can I.
The other question that has been asked seems to circulate around activities that somehow seem inappropriate for someone of “advanced age”. Such as exercise, experiences or hobbies.
The Question: Do you know how old you are?
My Answer: Do I know how old I am? That’s one of the dumbest questions I’ve ever heard. Do you know how old you are? Of course I know how old I am! Why on earth do you think I’m doing what I’m doing? Also, do you know how old I am or are you asking me my age? Because I’m a lady (*tries not to snicker*) and I’ve heard that it’s rude to ask a lady her age. Maybe you should just mind your own business and worry about yourself.
Okay, so the above is pretty rude and I would probably never actually say it to someone’s face. But it is the answer I feel like giving sometimes. The answer I usually give is: “Yes, I am keenly aware of my age, and I’m just doing things while I still have a chance to do them.” This is essentially the same answer, just a little less offensive.
I really am keenly aware of my age. That’s why I strive to eat healthy, exercise, have good sleep habits and laugh as often as possible. It’s also why I drink good beer, eat good chocolate and stay up too late sometimes.
I would like to live a long and memorable life. I have known and loved too many people that did not get that opportunity. I try to remember not to take this life for granted (most of the time, occasionally I could be mistaken for a giant couch potato). I also don’t buy into the idea that as we get older we can’t do things. Barring illness and injury (which also happens to young people) I think we can do whatever we put our minds to. It may take more time, energy and determination as we age, but if we really want something we can go after it. I recently watched a video of a 72 year old woman who has been doing cross-fit for five years! If she can pick that up and enjoy it at the age of 67, I’m pretty sure the rest of us can do some amazing stuff too.
When it comes down to it, I’m not actually annoyed with the people who ask the questions; I am annoyed for them. Because, if someone is asking those questions, it means they have bought into the lie that they have to be something different, something less than they actually are. Some of their joy and their spark, is being stolen from them and they are being cheated out of the chance to be truly alive.
My age does not define me. It is not a factor I consider when I am going about my daily life. And, as much as those questions bother me, my age does not. Getting old is not a bad thing. Like I said before, not everyone gets that chance. All my age signifies is the number of times I have cruised around the sun.
Here’s the really important thing to remember about age: The bigger that number gets, the more opportunities we have to really live!