I’m at that age….
I’m at an age where I feel great, but I know and accept that I’m no longer young. Emotionally and spiritually, I’m morphing and growing in a productive direction. But, then I look in the mirror and see a middle aged woman gazing back at me; which doesn’t exactly freak me out, but I do on occasion wish I was seeing my 30 year old self.
Lately, there have been rumblings around work about a need to sound ‘younger’; to appeal to a younger demographic. To not seem so old; to try and channel my inner 30 year -old. You know what? I don’t want to.
I don’t want to dampen what I’ve learned over the years; it was a hard fought battle to grow up and see things through the eyes of experience. I don’t want to edit my perspective to appear younger and hipper, when I’m not. Young and hip is overrated, by the way; my goal is to be older and hipper…or a hippie.
As I said, I’d love to have my 30 year-old body, but my 30 year old mind, sensibility and immaturity have all been buried, never to be revived. I’m finally at the age where I am seeing that as you get older, there is a cultural bias that I’ve most certainly taken part in as a young whipper snapper.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘older and wiser’ for as long as we can remember, but until you get there, you don’t fully understand it. And I should add that I’m certainly not fully there; I’m not as wise as I will be in 5, 10, 20 or God willing, 30 years. But, I’m older and it’s most certainly starting to define me, at least to others.
I don’t want to be the old lady that preaches about how my extra years have given me extra insight (even thought it’s true). I don’t want to turn into one of those older folks who constantly tell you how long they’ve been on the planet (I’m 53 years old). But, it is increasingly frustrating to feel as if you DO have some wisdom and insight and experience and knowledge to impart, but the older you get, the less the younger folks want to hear about it.
As a ‘civilian’ this really doesn’t bother me; as a media professional, it’s harder to swallow. Fortunately, I’ve seen it coming and I’ve planned for the day when I outgrow the demographic that we are charged with attracting and appealing to. It’s okay; I’m probably happier and more at peace than I’ve been since I WAS 30, but it’s kind of sad that our culture doesn’t prize wisdom and experience as much as we prize youth and beauty. That lament is certainly nothing new and none of us say it or think it until we’re over 50. It’s just that I’m at ‘that age’ where I’m seeing that older people can fade into invisibility, thanks to this cultural bias against “old people”.
I began to internally disengage from my public persona a few years ago. I didn’t do it consciously, but maybe I was sensing that getting older could mean I would begin to lose value, professionally. Accepting that I have changed and morphed and possibly outgrown that persona has been a fairly easy transition. We all evolve in our relationships to work, other people, and our families; it’s inevitable and it’s probably easier if we anticipate it and accept it.
I’m flying back to Michigan to visit my 93 year-old parents in a couple of weeks. At their age, every minute is precious and for the first time, I plan to sit with them and ask them what they’ve learned; what they can teach me as I approach the sunset. They’ve taught me plenty, through their guidance and example, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never looked them in the eye asked them to teach me. This time, I will.