Loving 55

Updated: Mar 7


Left wandering. Watercolor on paper. Discovery Bay, Hong Kong. February 2020.

I often find myself frowning at my grey roots growing out from my last color treatment. And I had become skilled at deflecting the question when anyone was rude enough to ask my age directly. As if somehow my age was a dirty little secret that I needed to hide, rather than being a biological fact.


I don’t actually remember when I became embarrassed about my age, but I’m guessing it might have been somewhere before the age of 40 that it became not so cool to be the age that I was.








Agism


Actually we are all getting older every single day. In fact, being alive and getting older is by far preferable to the alternative.


So why are some of us so reluctant to say how old we are? Perhaps it’s because we live in a youth-oriented culture that celebrates the power of beauty, strength and desirability. By contrast, old people are stereotyped as being weak, uncool and even pitiful.

Being alive and getting older is by far preferable to the alternative.

In fact there is a societal stigma around aging that keeps us quiet about our age, in case we may be discriminated against and judged. Perhaps we fear agism precisely because we judge older people to be lesser than, including ourselves.


Because we believe that narrative to be true. After all, we use so many derogatory and self-effacing terms to describe ourselves and senior citizens in general like: “over the hill”, “past my prime”, “not what I used to be”.


Old lives matter


But what if agist narratives were just as false and contemptible as prejudice against race, gender, sexual orientation?


After all, we all know many examples of powerful, attractive, sexy, intelligent senior citizens. One might argue that their age is what commands our respect and admiration: without said age they would not radiate such experience, wisdom, success, and resilience. Examples include Meryl Streep, Michelle Yeoh, Morgan Freeman..


Photo by Jaddy Liu on Unsplash

A different narrative


I’ve decided to believe a different narrative - one that says that the best is yet to come. If the first half of my adult life (age 18 to 50) was about building career and family, then the latter half is about enjoyment, personal growth and fulfillment.


Life after 50 is about not having to worry about what other people think. I’ve earned some success and lived through failures. I know myself: what I love and what my life is about.


I’ve learned that there’s no shame in sharing that I’m 55 years old. In fact, I’m proud to proclaim that I’m just at the halfway point. The next half of my life will be the wiser, healthier and best half yet.





 

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