I have never been one to worry about my age. It seems like a pointless thing to worry about. There is nothing you can do to prevent that number from getting higher and I think it’s important to embrace it and own all of the experiences that have got you to this point. My Grandmother always says that she feels the same today as she did when she was 18, she has never seemed depressed about getting older. One could say that this is all well and good for a young person to say but the reason I bring this up is this: Around Christmas time last year I was having dinner with some friends. We had an amazing night with great food, lots of drinks and lots of laughs but a passing comment that my friend made really struck a chord with me. I can’t remember exactly what was said, or the conversation we were having but she made a comment about us all being “old ladies”. Wait, what? I just remember being a little taken aback. I don’t see myself as an old lady, not even close. My friend is actually younger than me and it made me sad to think that she sees herself as an “old lady”. We are in our 30’s and we have so much life to live and things to achieve! Not just that but I was sitting there in a mini dress with sky high heels wondering if my friend secretly thought I looked ridiculous. My friend is an amazing person and I know she meant nothing by it but it got me thinking about people’s perception of age and the sort of life milestones some people see as off ramps on the road of life.
The first time I encountered this sort of idea was when I got married. People I worked with started telling me I didn’t have to take care of my appearance as much anymore: “Oh eat whatever you want now, you’re married.” “Why do you wear so much makeup surely your husband doesn’t care.” This annoyed me because for one, I don’t look the way I do to please other people. I don’t wear makeup to keep my husband, I do all of these things because they make ME feel good. People acted like now that I was married I just shouldn’t care anymore. Being married doesn’t make me half of a whole. I am still my own person, with my own interests, doing my own thing. My husband doesn’t own me just as I don’t own my husband. Being married also doesn’t mean that I’m going to take up knitting, buy a recliner and spend my Saturday night discussing the highest fibre cereal with my cats. I’m still going to wear mini dresses and drink too many margaritas with the girls on occasions. Don’t judge!
By far the biggest perceived off ramp is parenthood. How many times have you heard someone say that having kids is the end of your life? I remember very clearly being pregnant and having people tell me life would never be the same. This is true to an extent, you have a little human to think about after that. You need to keep another person alive which is a massive responsibility and sometimes feels like a full time job on its own. When I had my son I made a promise to myself that I would never lose MY identity. I wouldn’t forget the things I enjoyed doing. In the list of things that make me, me, being a mother is right down near the bottom. Being a mother has never defined me as a person and I will never let it hold me back. I have another friend who is struggling at the moment with her children getting older and less dependent on her. She used to live for the Big W toy sales because she loved showering her children with toys and you could be excused for thinking that her facebook page actually belonged to her daughters. As her children age she is feeling less useful and she has forgotten all of the things she loved doing. She feels like she has lost some of her identity and purpose. Don’t get me wrong, she has done that because she loves her children dearly but I also love my son with all my heart I just also really love myself.
I hope that this hasn’t come across as me judging people's life choices. I support people rights to live their lives the way they want to live them. I think it is important to remember that you are only as old as you feel. As you age of course you start to physically feel different but you should always strive to feel young at heart. Keep doing the things that you enjoy and don’t let anyone tell you that certain milestones will limit you as a person.