Lately age is a topic that comes up A LOT with friends, family, work colleagues, train companions, people who serve me coffee, total strangers. We all have this common fascination with how ages seem to be blending. Fortunately, everywhere you look someone’s defying traditional stereotypes of what’s possible, when – at work, in sport, in relationships, how we look. At last, age is less to be feared and more to be embraced (thank God, I’m 40 next year). Check out Jane Fonda’s TED talk on Life’s third act for some fascinating insights – she’s 75 and knows what she’s talking about…
We’re generally living longer, staying fitter and healthier for longer, having children later, starting work later, retiring later and taking up a serious amount of hobbies the older we get. Many of the 40 / 50 year olds I know have a youthfulness and lust for life that, from what I’ve seen at least, rarely exists in teenagers or 20-somethings.
Younger people (the ones I know at least) are often anxious about life – they’re, understandably, still working out what their life’s going to be; who they’ll meet; how to achieve fulfilment at work; how to fit in; what’s the point of it all?
By 50+ I think it’s safe to say you’ve probably worked out what you’re good at, have surrounded yourself with people you want to be surrounded by, have let go of trying to be someone you’re not, know which hair colours and styles suits you – and which don’t ! By this point, children are often older, free time exists again.
I read a study recently that highlighted some misconceptions about age:
- The perceived average age of a festival goer was 30. In reality it’s 42
- Perceived age for taking an extended break was 35. In reality it’s 45
Given the choice, I certainly have no deep longing to return to my 20s. I sacrificed mine for my 30s, working very long hours, giving away my time too freely, having NO hobbies… just getting blind drunk every so often with friends. I had a constant secret fear that I wasn’t quite good enough or hadn’t quite achieved enough yet (impostor syndrome apparently). Enter my 30s, our adorable kids (thanks admittedly to gruelling IVF), a healthier approach to work, hobbies, time, an acceptance and embracing of who I am – just as I am, leisurely meals out with friends in the afternoon, home and bed at a reasonable hour. Might sound dull to some, but I’m much happier in my 30s than I ever was in my 20s. And I hope to enter my 40s stronger, happier, more grounded and in control and continuing to thoroughly enjoy life without the FOMO (fear of missing out) or self-doubt.
I think older generations seize life in a way young people can’t today. Youth is a blessing and a curse – you don’t have the life experience yet to appreciate the highs against the lows. It’s a tough gig being a teenager today – fears about the planet they’ll inherit, political and economic turmoil that will impact them over which they have no control, competition for jobs, social media, reality TV, celebrity culture – all doing more harm than good.
Those of us north of 35 grew up in simpler times – and we should be so grateful for it.
It’s so interesting to see such a mix of ages booking onto my retreats (which are booking up so fast – wow !). Making time to take care of yourself seems to cut across all ages – thank goodness.