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by Jane Laskey
Older is better: Wear your age with pride
Another birthday rolls around and you coyly announce: “I’m 29 (again).” Everyone laughs. We’re all in on the conspiracy. We all agree on one thing: younger is better.
How did this nonsense become the accepted wisdom? We don’t lessen with age, we accumulate. Each year we bring more to the table. Each year we become more of who we are.
This obsession with youth has got to go.
Younger is not better. I can prove it to you:
- When you make an appointment at the hairdresser, do you want someone fresh out of beauty school to cut your hair?
- Thinking of building a new home? I’ll bet you look for a construction firm with more than one build under their belts.
- Time for some surgery? I’m guessing you’d rather have a surgeon with a few wrinkles over a freshly minted doctor with a youthful spring in his or her step
I rest my case. Whether we’re talking about running our government, fixing a leaky pipe or cooking our dinner, experience wins every time.
That’s good news. It means every year we get better. Every year we have more to offer. Experience is what we have in spades. Lucky you! Lucky me! OK, stop the eye rolling – I’m serious. It’s time we stop apologizing for our age and wear it proudly.
When did growing older fall out of style?
I’ll grant you, it’s not hip to be old in America these days. (It’s also not hip to say “hip”, but I digress.)
Blame it on Hollywood with its 20-something stars. Blame it on our vanity, as plastic surgery and Botox injections seem commonplace in today’s world: and as a result, strangely-tight faces and expressionless foreheads are now the norm on the nightly news. Heck, you can even blame it on our own willingness to meekly bow out of life at retirement.
Somewhere along the line we forgot to look at all the things we gain as we age, and started to focus instead on what we lose. Let’s talk about that. What exactly do we lose? Smooth skin, pigment in our hair, the illusion we are indestructible, and the energy to dance all night.
Sure, it was nice. But we’ve been there and done that. Let me ask you something. When was the last time you wanted to dance all night? Personally, I’m quite content to simply sleep all night.
A new perspective
Let’s look carefully at our accumulated years from a new perspective – and focus on what we gained:
- Friends and family
- An understanding of who we are and what we want.
Those, my friends, are valuable commodities. Why do we give ourselves so little credit? The truth is, you can’t be less today than you were yesterday. It’s simple math:
20 < 50
60 > 40
100 = an age we all aspire to
Whatever your age, one equation remains constant. The essential qualities – your unique combination of dreams, affections, interests and experiences – remain constant, pure, and true no matter what your age.
You = You
My 59 year old eyes peer through my cheaters at my laptop screen, yet I don’t feel old for a minute. Inside, I’m still the same person I was at age 17. The years did not diminish me. Yes, I saw a lot, but my heart remains hungry for more.
How about you?
Remember what it was like when you first started out? I do. When I look back at my twenties, I focus on that glorious feeling of independence and possibility – and, of course, my size 6 jeans. Everything was new. So what if my apartment was tiny? It was my first apartment which made it wonderful!
It’s easy to remember the excitement of those early years and forget the nitty-gritty details. Those early years were also HARD. Let me jog your memory: stressful finances, loneliness, thoughts you may never amount to anything, cheap coffee. Remember now?
Oh yes, I remember when I started out. There were so many things I didn’t have the money or experience to achieve. I have no desire to do that again! The only parts of my youth I want to regain are my 28 inch waist and that wonderful feeling of possibility.
Here’s the good news: there’s no reason why I can’t have both.
Today I have more time, money and experience, which translates into opportunity. I’m free to pursue new interests, to travel, to reinvent myself. I’m also free to diet and exercise my way back into those old jeans, but I don’t think I’ll bother.
All I have to do is stop obsessing about my lost youth and start focusing on my incredible present. The best is yet to come and I am so excited!
I propose we all do some mental house-cleaning and ask ourselves some questions we may not have thought about since high school:
- Who do I want to be?
- What is important to me?
- What dreams do I want to achieve?
- What are my priorities?
- What am I willing to do to achieve these things?
“When we deal with who we are and more importantly, who we want to become, the door opens for transformation and renewal.”
Once you identify who you are and what you want, it’s time to clean house. What are the things in your life you don’t need or want? These items include possessions, ideas, and activities that up take unnecessary space in our lives, or worse, drag us down. Find the dead weight in your life and eliminate it. You’ll feel incredibly energized once done!
Finally, challenge yourself to pursue the dreams and priorities you identified. Try to do something every day to bring yourself closer to your goals. There’s no time to waste and so many things still to do.
While you’re at it, find ways to fit new experiences into every day. Whether it’s a road trip to a little town you always wanted to visit, a hobby you thought about trying in the past, or just using a new recipe to make dinner an adventure – new is good. New makes you learn. It piques your curiosity. Most importantly it wakes you up and makes you feel alive.
Combine your accumulated wisdom and experience with your newfound sense of purpose. You won’t have time to feel wistful about the past when the bright potential of your future commands all of your attention. It’s good to be young at heart.
About the Author
Jane Laskey is the founder of Plain Jane’s Guide to Happiness. She is a 50+ woman from Minnesota who describers herself as a seeker of bliss, creative junkie and work in progress, determined to make the second half of her life the best ever. To do so, she focuses on the things that make her feel alive and ditching the things that don’t. In her inspiring blog, she shares personal experiences, deep thoughts and eternal optimism.
All photos from Canva.com