Middle age is definitely on my mind these days. After all, it’s the theme of this blog.
One thing I have struggled with is the concern that others may view me as somehow less interesting because I am “over the hill.” Lately, however, as I have stretched my legs and tried some new things, I have realized that my experience makes me more interesting, not less.
Age truly is an attitude. What does that mean? Well, for one thing it means chucking one’s rearview mirror and instead staying open to what’s ahead on the other side of the windshield.
In fact, hanging on to that rearview mirror can hamper you in the workplace, an idea that emerged in an interview I did a few weeks ago with business guru Margaret Heffernan.
In answering my question, What is your advice for a woman over 40 who has lost her job during this ongoing recession and is trying to get back in the game? She said,
One of the hardest things around this, that I’ve noticed with a lot of my former employees and friends, is that when they get stuck, it’s because they are looking for things to be the way they used to be.
Nothing ages you faster than talking about the “good old days.” Don’t like today’s online communication, for example? Well maybe getting a Twitter account will help you stay abreast of your adult son’s comings and goings. Following a blog might take you to some new and exciting places and inspire your imagination. And yes, there is nothing like receiving a letter in the mail, but isn’t it also great to see a loved one’s face as you video-chat with them over the internet?
My concerns about aging are also based in vanity. No one will ever mistake me for a 30- or even a 40-year old again, because the skin doesn’t lie. But lately, I’ve also realized that it’s better to accept these changes rather than obsess over them. Maybe beauty can come from something more than lucky genetics. It’s also in the way you carry yourself and approach the world. This theme cropped up in a couple of places last week.
First, in a piece by Garance Doré, a photographer whose subjects are often young, beautiful, and impossibly stylish. In this particular post, she focused on a 48-year old woman who has her own line of beauty products. Upon learning the woman’s age, Doré documented her inner reaction this way,
I don’t want to say that she ‘seems much younger’ (even if that’s the first thing I thought) because ‘seems much younger’ shouldn’t be the ultimate compliment. The ultimate compliment would be something like she’s ‘in amazing shape.’
She went on to say that, “…aging gracefully requires an attitude, coolitude, and a certain serenity.” These words felt downright uplifting coming from a style icon in her thirties, whose work is steeped in the youth-obsessed fashion industry.
The idea that beauty is epitomized by being in “amazing shape” rather than looking young was echoed later in the week in a piece by my friend, Ronnie Citron-Fink over at Econesting. In “Stay Fit,” Citron-Fink mentions winning a Nastar ski race at age 50 and then shares a video of a 95-year old ballet dancer going through her daily exercise routine. Talk about serenity!
As I work to shed old attitudes and preconceptions, I’m learning that getting older has its advantages. My inner revolutionary hasn’t died. In fact, she is more alive than ever. And because I am learning to please myself as much as others, I’m also gaining the confidence to let her speak.
Yes, I am middle-aged. It’s time to let go and be who I am.