“Getting older isn’t something to worry about,” my parents and their friends would tell me years ago. “Age is just a number. Life’s not about how old you are, its about how young you feel.”
This is something I heard a lot of when I was younger, normally when someone was celebrating their 25th birthday for the 15th year in a row. I would dismiss it as ‘old people trying to convince themselves that getting older doesn’t matter’. I naturally believed the statement to be a lie.
Perhaps that was because I was young and naive. Or perhaps it’s because society glorifies and promotes body beautiful ideals which focus on youth. Whatever the reason, I was a non-believer.
I’ve never fully accepted the idea of getting older (apart from as a young child when you’re desperate to grow up and do all the things that older kids can do). Lately though, I think I’m learning to accept it.
Even more strangely, I’m feeling okay about it.
The turning point was my birthday. I turned 38 earlier this month. Just writing that down is a huge deal for me. Normally I won’t admit my age to anyone because I feel ashamed at how how old I’m getting. I normally like my birthday to slip by as unnoticed as possible – well, as unnoticed as possible considering I share it with other members of my family – and always tell my husband that I don’t want a fuss.
This year’s birthday was much the same as any other: full of love and wonderful gifts, but low-key with no planned celebrations. Normally, this would be fine, but this year I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I felt this way, but then I realised: I actually wanted to do something to mark my birthday.
For the first time in a long time, I wanted to celebrate getting older.
Getting older and learning to accept it
Maybe my shift in attitude is because I’m getting older and my perception of life is naturally changing. Perhaps it’s got something to do with cherishing every year, especially since my Grandad died. It may be to do with my own realisation that, in many ways, I still feel the same as I did when I was 18 or 20.
Or it could be a little (or a lot) of all of these things.
I finally understand what my elders meant all those years ago. Age really is just a number. It isn’t something to feel ashamed about or something that stops you from doing things. You don’t suddenly become ‘past it’ once you reach a certain age.
It’s all in your own mind.
Getting older doesn’t stop you from doing anything, it actually has the potential to unlock endless possibilities. Looking back, I have a lot to be thankful for:
- The love of my life.
- An extended family who accept me.
- Two fabulous children (even if they can be hard work at times).
- A special closeness with my sister that I didn’t think I would have.
- Opportunities to travel to far-flung places like France, Florida and all around the Mediterranean.
- Some pretty cool adventures, like the time I worked at a French pre-school just outside Paris for 2 weeks or jetted to Milan for a spontaneous weekend away.
I’ve also learnt some valuable life lessons along the way, like:
- I can down pints surprisingly fast.
- Downing pints will definitely make me vomit.
- I will never stop acting like a big, excited kid whenever I visit a theme park.
- When cleaning a computer, don’t spray polish directly onto the keyboard and expect it to work perfectly.
- Forget fancy toys for babies and toddlers, cardboard boxes always win.
- As a parent you always feel guilty about something. Accept it as best you can and don’t let it get to you.
For the first time in a long time I’m feeling relaxed about my age. It’s taken a while for me to get here, but I’m glad I’ve arrived.