It's About Attitude and You Need to Get it
Added: Sun. Mar 16, 2008 9:09am
Posted in: Aging
Hi. I'm Marc and I'm 56. That's right. You heard me. After reaching a certain age, an admission of age can become difficult. Over the last few years, discussions of my age have been greeted with, "Really? Wow, you don't act like it." Or, "Really? Wow!" - followed by an uncomfortable moment of silence.
I get these reactions because we live in an ageist society. I get these reactions because we've been conditioned to not only fight aging but also deny it. The first is a good thing but the latter is not. We deny our age because we've been programmed to believe it makes us less viable, less interesting, and less desirable.
I will never again deny my age and I encourage you to do the same. To deny our age is to deny our life's experience. When we deny our age, we not only buy into the ageist propaganda that is spewed throughout our society but we become purveyors of it.
I worked for decades in an industry (TV news) in which age is never discussed and never admitted. Everyone wants to be younger because society wants them to be younger and, by extension, employers and viewers want them be younger. In TV, wrinkles are the beginning of the end. Society wants us to believe the same thing about life in general.
Most of us like to be told that we look younger than we really are. That’s positive reinforcement for staying active, eating well, and avoiding stress. But it becomes a negative when it simply implies there is something wrong with the age we are. It’s ageism and it’s just as divisive as sexism and racism. It’s like telling someone “you don’t act like a woman” or “you dance like a black man.”
Turning 50 or 60 or 70 or even 90 is not the end of meaningful, rewarding, productive life. Our Growing Bolder members and interviewees demonstrate that every day in increasing numbers. We don't have to be 30 or look like we're 30 to be of immense value to our families, our society and ourselves.
Somewhere along the way, the idea that aging is associated with ugliness and shame was hatched. Unfortunately, the concept jumped quickly from the conference rooms on Madison Avenue into the psyche of our society.
It's time we are honest and non-apologetic about our age. We have the power to redefine what it means to grow old but before we can change society's mind, we have to change our own. It begins with something as simple as accepting the age on your birthday cake. It is what it is. An attitude. Accept it. Embrace it.