According to my middle school students, I don’t act my age. When they try to guess my age, they typically begin in the thirties. I remind them that my oldest child is in her mid-twenties, which should focus their math. Still, they are truly shocked when they hear my age. Like, ‘expecting-me-to-have-a-casket-ready’ kind of shocked. I’m not sure what they think I should look like at my age, but clearly, I don’t fit the image. They always follow with questions about how I look so young (water, exercise, sleep, good genes) and comments about their grandparents being my age. Kids!
I am currently in my mid-fifties. I feel like I’m 25- maybe 30 tops. A 25-year-old with a few aches- especially in the mornings and evenings, hair that would probably be fully gray if I ever decided to skip the hair color, and skin that requires moisturizer labeled anti-aging. There are days that I don’t even remember that I’m older until someone asks a question about life “back in my day.” Yes, I remember having to get up to change the channel on the TV, which only showed three local channels that signed off at midnight every night with a picture of a flag and the national anthem. Yes, I remember our first microwave and how we watched the cheese melt on nachos while standing a couple feet away, just in case. Yes, I stuffed the seatbelt into the car seat because it was uncomfortable to wear. Yes, I remember stretching the cord on the kitchen wall phone to keep my brothers from hearing my conversations so far that the cord broke. I also remember being able to pick up the receiver on the Princess phone in my parents’ bedroom as quietly as a secret agent to listen to their conversations. The trick was hanging up AFTER their calls ended so they didn’t hear that final click.
I can also sing along to the rap songs that my teenager blasts from her wireless speaker. I know that Instagram is cool and Facebook is for adults. I know the difference between a Bitmoji and an emoji. I understand how and why to retweet. I follow channels on YouTube and Netflix, causing the current debate in our household of the relevance and need for cable TV. I know which fashions are on trend, but also have the sense to steer clear of adding any Victoria’s Secret Pink to my wardrobe.
You know what I also know? I know that I could rock those Pink sweatpants if I wanted to. The limitations I set because of my age are simply my limitations, not a general rule. There are no rules. The truth is that we are not limited by age. Whatever we feel like doing, we should get out there and do. Whatever we feel like learning, we should jump in with both feet. Whatever we want to experience, let’s figure out a plan and make it happen. Over-50 doesn’t mean over-life. There’s more to explore!
I hope to inspire folks who find themselves looking at the second half of the journey. Notice I didn’t say the ending. It’s not- far from it. I like to think of it as the chapters that we haven’t written yet. I have a lot more story to write, and I bet you do, too. This is the time of life to make sure that we are who we were destined to be. This isn’t the time to act our ages. It is the time to simply be. Learn something new. Take a risk. Travel. Train for a 5K or even a marathon. Eat dessert for dinner. Write that book.
This isn’t the time to slow down. C’mon- join me on this adventure!