There is nothing more frustrating than someone who refuses to accept their age.
You know the one. The self-proclaimed forever 38-year-old, even though it’s blatantly obvious they are on the slippery slope to sixty.
Or the person when you mention an approaching birthday, complains in that sing-song whingy voice, “oh, don’t remind me, I hate getting older!“
“Well, excuse me, luv, but it’s a damn sight better than the alternative”.
The alternative? What death? Yes, death. If we aren’t aging, we are dead!
Or that someone who shrugs when you wish them a happy birthday and they nonchalantly reply, “oh, it’s just another day!”
No, dipshit, it’s not another day!
It is your birthday. The day of your birth. The day to celebrate that you just completed another lap around the sun.
Another 12 months of being alive.
52 weeks of breathing, living and experiencing life.
365 days of spending quality time with your family and friends.
8,760 hours … oh, you get the point.
Basically, you just had the privilege of another whole year of life.
So stop complaining and start appreciating the fact that you have had this incredible opportunity.
Because I can assure you, whilst you are whining about getting older, there is someone out there wishing like hell that they were!
“Don’t complain about getting older, it’s a privilege denied to many!”
After two cancer diagnoses of my own, and my 25-year-old daughter being diagnosed with cancer as well, people who complain about getting older frustrate the bejesus out of me.
Even my 94-year-old grandmother, who still lives independently, still drives and has the mental clarity of someone half her age, often exclaims to me, “Oh, love, you don’t want to get old … it’s awful!”.
Ummm, no, actually Nan, I do want to get old!
I want to have that same extraordinary privilege that you’ve had watching your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, and yes, believe it or not, great-great-grandchildren grow up.
Although I appreciate aging can wreak havoc on the body, if you are fortunate enough to still be functional and have your full faculties in your latter years, then damn well appreciate that exceptional privilege.
Enjoy today. Because yesterday is gone. And tomorrow isn’t promised.
Ironically, I work in Oncology, so on top of the friends I’ve made through Cancer Support Groups, watching people who have had their lives abruptly cut short due to this insidious disease is gut-wrenching. And daunting.
The cancer support group that I joined 9-years ago has now dwindled to diminished numbers, which isn’t instilling a lot of confidence in my own mortality.
Whilst I try to remain positive, I struggle to focus on the future.
Once I used to visualise the future, my hopes, dreams and desires; I imagined my life when I was older with my husband, surrounded by my children and grandchildren, and our lives spent together in our twilight years.
However, I no longer possess this ability. And I haven’t for the past nine years.
After being diagnosed with cancer at 41, I struggle to envisage a future.
I live day-to-day and don’t focus much past a week or two in advance.
Stuck on repeat. Ground-hog day. Same shit, different day.
When I turned 50, reality hit that for the past 9 years I had basically been living a day-to-day existence.
I had experienced first-hand what it was like to have that proverbial “rug pulled from under me”, and have my whole world turned on its arse with 3 simple words “you have cancer“, that I hadn’t focused on or envisioned my future for nearly a whole decade.
I had, regretfully, closed myself off to that possibility. The possibility of getting older. I had experienced how fragile and unpredictable life was, that I had shut myself off to the possibility that I might have that same extraordinary privilege as my Nan, that of growing old.
I had seen too many friends from my support group leave this world far too early, and patients from work who had barely experienced life have their lives cut short due to an invisible, silent and stealthy disease that grew, mutated and invaded their bodies and stopped them from reaching 20, 30 or 40, let alone the ripe old age of 94.
Therefore, when I hear someone bemoaning about their aversion to aging, that they are getting old, cresting the hill, or that they are on the downhill slope, or whatever other arbitrary term they want to attach to getting older, it peeves me.
Personally, even before a cancer diagnosis, I had never been ashamed of my age or had an issue admitting how old I was. I always approached each birthday optimistically and after being diagnosed with cancer, I valued each one even more so.
The wake up call
Yet, turning fifty was an awakening. Somewhere subconsciously in the nether regions of my mind, maybe I wasn’t expecting to. Nevertheless, it became apparent that I wasn’t truly living my life to the fullest, and this annoyed me. I was merely surviving, taking each day as it came, without any real plans or goals for the future.
I was no better than the person who doesn’t appreciate their age.
Instead of being grateful that I was still around to enjoy life, I was in a holding pattern.
I needed to stop insulating myself from the possibility that I might not grow old, and refocus on the fact that I just might!
“Some people are old at 18, and some people are young at 90 … time is a concept that humans created”~ Yoko Ono
Age is a construct we’ve created
Age is just a number.
That is all it is. A number.
Your behaviour, and how you act, influences your age.
If you think you are old, then you will feel, act and be old!
“Ask yourself how old would you be, if you didn’t know the day you were born?”
This always poses an interesting question for me.
Yet the saying always makes me stop and think.
If you didn’t know how old you were, how old would you be?
I know people who act like they are 20 years older than they are, and in comparison, I know people who need to grow the hell up and start acting their age.
Even so, what is right, and what is wrong?
If you are a 60-year-old that wants to strut a bikini at the beach, then power to you. You, my love, are going to have a brighter outlook on life than the 25-year-old who thinks their life is already washed up monotonously working 9-to-5, nose to the grindstone day in and day out.
“What the mind can conceive, it can achieve”
It’s inevitable that as we get older, our bodies are no longer able to do the things they did when we were young.
Bones break. Muscles ache.
Though if we keep ourselves fit and healthy, we can keep these ailments at bay for as long as possible.
But the moment you state you are old, and that you can’t do something because of your age, and if you aren’t talking about doing a back-flip whilst wearing roller-blades, then you are now officially old.
Because, as rule, age is no barrier!
Unless you want to do a back-flip whilst wearing roller-blades.
Or become a prima ballerina in your 50’s.
But maybe you can, I dunno.
There may be some limitations, but not many.
There are a lot of famous people who didn’t make it until later in life
- Morgan Freeman – was 50 years old before he landed his first big movie deal
- Harrison Ford – was 35 before his career kick-started with Star Wars
- Colonel Harland Sanders – was 62 before opening his first KFC franchise in 1952
- Liam Neeson – was 40 before his first major role in Schindler’s List
- JK Rowling – was 32, depressed, poverty-stricken and recovering from a bad divorce when she penned Harry Potter
- Vera Wang – was 40 when she opened her first bridal boutique and was unknown for her designs
- Judi Dench – was in her 60’s before her career took off, and now she’s a Dame
- Henry Ford – was 45 when he created the revolutionary Model T car in 1908
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you are correct” – Henry Ford
It’s never too late and you’re never too old
I’m not saying you have to strive to become an actor, or invent something revolutionary, or write a best-selling novel that will still be popular in 25 years’ time, but also, on the same token, if you want to, you can!
More so, if you’ve had this deep-seated, burning desire to accomplish something, then what is holding you back?
As a rule, it’s this concept that we’ve created that we are too old.
That we are too old to learn something new.
The old adage that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.
Well, actually, yes you can!
Our brain has this amazing knack for rewiring, renewing and rejuvenating itself as a result of our repeated actions.
Self-directed neuroplasticity is when we intentionally rewire our brains to create positive habits.
With a healthy dose of self-belief and steadfast intention, determination to stop the negative narrative, and a willingness to step outside our comfort zone, we have the ability to achieve anything we set our minds to!
We all have two lives. The second one starts when we realise we only have one” – Tom Hiddleston
One thing I’m acutely aware of is life is finite. And aging is inevitable.
We think we have time to do all the things we want, but our world can be flipped on its end in a matter of minutes.
And while it’s important to live in the present, it’s equally important to have goals, dreams, hopes, and ambitions for the future.
Because without hope, life is meaningless, and we just go through the motions of living without any real intention.
I know. I’ve been doing it for the past nine years.
Life without Hope is a voyage with no Compass
Your perception of aging is what stops you from chasing your dreams and accomplishing your goals.
It isn’t too late to change your life. To change your outlook. To change your mindset. And to set those goals.
But first, start appreciating and accepting the fact that you are getting older.
Remind yourself that age is only a concept that we have created.
So, let’s stop complaining, and if you do complain, then be respectful of who you complain to!
If you know that person has battled cancer or experienced a life altering event, choose your words wisely, and engage brain before mouth.
And while we can’t control our age, we can slow the decline of aging by changing our outlook and state of mind.
Ways to Slow the Aging Process
- Change your language
- Milk every second of every day
- Wake up each morning with intention
- Stop waiting for life to pass you by
- Set achievable goals and refocus on your future
- Make a list of what you can change in your life regardless of your age
- Declutter your life and eradicate negative energy and toxic connections
- Sign up for that course
- Join the gym
- Start a blog!
- Admit your damn age
- Focus on your overall Wellness and implement 1 or 2 small steps from each key area:
Physical – embrace a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep
Mental – exercise your brain, learn a new skill, read, be self-aware, pay attention to your feelings
Emotional – practice mindfulness, gratitude and meditation, relaxation techniques, walk in nature
Social – interact with like-minded, positive people, nurture your relationships, join social groups
Environmental – create a happy and stress-free environment, declutter your personal space and unnecessary things (and people) from your life
Occupational – create a healthy work-life balance, avoid unnecessary overtime, take your allocated breaks, and if you wake up each morning with a sense of dread and dissatisfaction, find a new job! (I’m still working on that one)
Financial – create a financial plan and budget that works for you, avoid overspending and strive to save each pay
“Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved” – Winnie the Pooh (not such a silly old bear)