I think I stopped thinking there was a connection between my actual chronological age and how old I really felt when I was in my late 30’s. I still felt like I was in my 20’s, and didn’t really see what that number had to do with anything. Yes I enjoyed the benefit of my car insurance rates dropping when I hit 30, but beyond that it pretty much meant nothing. I was still hanging out with a lot of the friends I had grown up with, who I also still perceived to be in their 20’s. We all were keeping up (or trying to) with the changes in the world, technology, music, we vowed there would not be a “generation gap” between us and our kids (or in my case nieces and nephews) Then came 50 and I had a hard time believing the number….50 was as old as my parents- how could I possibly be 50??? I think it was at that point that I really started ignoring the number. Everyone was saying that 50 was the new 30 anyway. I went to the gym everyday, stayed out of the sun, had continued to try to keep up with technology and music, and still didn’t feel any different than I had 30 years ago.
But this year I started working in a school, assisting in a classroom of first graders. I am as old as some of the students’ grandparents. The head teacher is 40. In my head I am the same age as she is. That was until she told me yesterday that she wants to “aspire” to be like me. That in 16 years (thanks very much) she wants to still be fit, to have a young attitude, to be present in the current world of what is going on, to have a positive outlook and take things on with relish. What a compliment, what a beautiful thing to say- but what a mind blower at the same time. The words “in 16 years” were still ringing in my head. I see myself as a peer, a contemporary, maybe even the same age, but the reality is I am 16 years older, and as much as she sees me as young, there is a part of her that still sees me as 56. It may just be a number in my head, but it is still a real number.
I will continue to be who I am, despite the actual year of my birth, despite the medicine I take for osteoporosis, despite the wrinkles that have formed around my eyes. It really is a “state of mind.” If I think 30, I can be 30. How old do you really think you are?