Birthdays

A couple of friends of mine were talking about birthdays the other day. They are around my age – for the benefit of the reader I shall say fortyish – and they were laughing about the things that they did when they were …  and the things that they couldn’t do now that they are … 

I had to stop myself for a second. These women ‘sounded’ old – and I coudn’t relate to it. I got home and had a look in the mirror. Nope, couldn’t see it either. Was I in denial or did I just look ‘good for my age.’

I pondered the age thing for a while. What was it all about? To some, I think it is a real concern, and they categorise the things that they should be doing by the age that they are and what is expected of them. I like to call this ‘age related disillusionment- if there is such a thing. We can be so caught up in what media and society expects of us at a certain age, we can almost see it in our minds – the illusion of what we have created.

When we are young, birthdays are a real bonus. You can’t wait to get to the next one, because it brings more benefits and bigger presents. Reaching those magic numbers of adulthood are agony, and sweet salvation when you are finally there – until, of course, reality bites, and you have to meet the demands that adulthood brings – like study and employment, credit card payments and mortgages. Then of course there’s marriage (for some), babies, families, more bills, life, untold ups and downs, more life, …phew. There’s a lot going on. Pretty soon you’ve sailed past the twenty-five mark and are looking down the barrel of thirty. At this point in time you will probably ponder getting older a little, but then go back to what you were doing, but decide to go to the gym and work out, change the hairstyle and learn the tricks of applying make-up to achieve that ‘youthful glow’ – just in case.

You reach thirty-five and you decide to go back to univeristy (well, I did anyway) to upgrade your skills. You sign up for over six years of juggling life, work, and meeting study deadlines. Your social life is still ok, you like to get out a little to nightclubs. You can still pass for twenty-eight with the right make-up and lighting, but it gets a bit stale, and when you look at the antics of the ‘youngsters’, you wonder if you were ever that stupid. Could it be that even your attitude is going through and age-related adjustment as well?

By the time you hit forty you are over it. The age-related thing anyway. You might worry a bit about getting older and what that new pain in your left ankle means, but for me, I’m probably happier now than I was when I was an eighteen year old. I’m not as ‘perky’ as I used to be – but then again – I don’t want to trade what I have learned and what I have done for that youthful insecurity.  I have ‘done’ the age related thing at times, but it feels strange. I can’t fit into the ‘age-box’ because I’m not sure what it is.

One thing I am sure of though is that ‘age’ is a mental thing. And it’s an attitude that will almost certainly be mine alone – copyrighted by me. I don’t feel old, I just feel different to a sixteen year old, a twenty year old, a thirty year old – and in recent times – other fortyish year olds.

Birthdays are just numbers. Real age is experience plus knowlege, minus the stigma.

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