When asked in the past, I would tell people my age and then pause, waiting for the "wow, you don't look 40, or 50, or whatever age I was at the time." I liked those comments - they gave me the feeling that I'd beat the clock a bit and was somehow ahead of the game. As I get older, I rarely get those comments. It initially disappointed me. I thought I had lost my lead! Crazy thinking, right? These days, when someone does say, "oh, you don't look 56," my new response is, "this is what 56 looks like."
MORE magazine used to have a monthly column entitled, "This is what 60 (or 70, or 80) Looks Like," with a photo and short bio of a woman who not only looked great physically but was also shattering age myths in her hobbies or professional life. I loved reading that page as a way to keep expanding my own view of the limitations I was falsely accepting as I age.
We have a visual image of each age - an image based on what that used to mean. At 85 years old, my sweet grandmother was overweight, her breasts drooping down to her belly in her flowered housedress as she shuffled around in thick flat shoes. She had been a farmer and raised 10 children with almost no money. Later, in her smaller house, she had an incredible garden and 'canned' fruits and vegetables every year. Yet, she didn't have the benefits of much of what we know now about diet, cardio exercise, sunscreen, etc. What 85 looked like for my grandma was based on the knowledge and habits of those times.
Many of us are the first generation who have had the luxury of being physically active our whole life, whether through organized sports, running, doing Zumba or lifting weights. We're the first generation who has more liberally enjoyed mani/pedis, massage, facials and spa treatments. We're the first generation who has felt that therapy, counseling, and self-help are within easy reach. Wouldn't it stand to reason that we may age differently in body, mind and spirit than our parents and grandparents did?
Along with some of the privileges we've had, there are also responsibilities (haven't we also told our kids that?). We can choose to take responsibility for the excuses we make as we age. I'm guilty of using my age as an excuse for not mastering technology. But what about Olive Riley who started her blog at age 107? Not being computer literate nor being able to see well enough to type, she had help from a gentleman who later made a documentary about her life. There are still videos of Olive on you tube. This is what 107 looks like.
Have you started to say that you can no longer participate in certain sports and that your body is "falling apart" as you age? What about Tao Porchon-Lynch, who at 97 years old, teaches eight yoga classes a week and says, "I don't put fear or decay in my mind." Or, the 70-year-old Australian grandfather, Cyril Baldock who swam the English Channel and then celebrated with a couple of beers "for medicinal purposes." This is what 70 looks like.
Do you have a business dream that you haven't acted on and now think it is too late? You can't afford to take the risk, you're too old, you're too settled in your career? What about Marc Guberti who didn't care about age and as a high school student, started an online business. He now publishes a book a month and has over 275,000 followers on Twitter. As he says, "you don't have to be 18 or over to be successful." This is what 18 years old looks like.
For everything you're saying you can't do, there's someone else out there who is overcoming their inner obstacles and doing it. Let's chip away at the chunks of excuses holding us back. This is what a rewarding life looks like.