It’s All a State of Mind

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I don’t, in any way, feel my age. At all.

I am about to turn 39. I feel about 16.

I also feel a bit like I’m pretending to be an adult, or playing house, and still thinking about growing up at some vague point in the future. It takes me by surprise when, every now and then, I realize that I’m already grown up. That I’m not playing house; I actually have one. That I’m capable of things like organizing a household, budgeting, being responsible.

When I hear about the various medical tests one needs to start considering at a certain age, I barely listen, immediately assuming that age is far into my future.

It isn’t.

When I see other parents at my son’s school, I think how parent-y they look. Like the parents did when I was a kid. But I don’t feel that I look parent-y like them. I think I look like a kid, older than my son and his friends, but a kid nonetheless.

I’ve been blessed with great genes, the genes of my mother and her lineage of gentle-faced, unwrinkled, strong-haired female predecessors. This means that not only do I not feel my age, I’ve never actually looked my age either.

You’d think I’d be happy – thrilled – with that but, actually, I’ve spent much of my life trying to be older.

Why?

Because I have always felt that I’m not taken seriously, that I’m overlooked for being (or seeming to be) younger than I am. That at some magical point in the future, a point I keep trying to reach, people will realize that I am mature, experienced and know what I’m talking about.

The problem, though, may be that I don’t feel any of those things. Maybe that’s what I’m putting out there.

A neighbour recently mentioned that she thought I was about 24 and that I “had a lot of living yet to do, a lot of experience yet to gain.”

Right there. That’s the reason I’ve always strived to be older. I was offended that she was surprised when I explained, as patiently as I could, that I am almost 40 and have quite a lot of living and experience under my belt, thank you very much. I’ve lived abroad, I’ve got a BA and a Masters, I’ve worked in the Federal Government for 11 years…

I’m always justifying myself.

Now that I am almost 40, I’m not quite as eager to age as I once was. I am still eager to be taken seriously, though, and weary of not being treated as though I have some measure of wisdom, some right to the respect that comes with age.

Does wisdom come with age?

It depends on the person and on the life they have lived. I find it hard to believe that the elder Kardashians, for example, are particularly wise. Then again, they’re famous for doing nothing, so maybe they’re wiser than I think.

For the most part, though, I think wisdom does come with age. Until very recently, humans revered their Elders, the Wise Ones, looking to them with respect, admiration and deference. I’d rather follow these ancient cultures than our modern one which tends to look down on its older generation and dismiss its members as fools and a burden.

I look at and I look up to my grandmother, my great aunt, my mother. All wise, wise women. Wise doesn’t mean you’re always right, but it does mean that you have lived enough years on this earth to have had enough experiences that you know something about something. I used to turn to my grandmother and great aunt for their advice on everything from boys to cooking.

Now, I look to my mother.

And that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

I find it hard to fathom that my mother is now at the age that my grandmother and great aunt were when I turned to them. And that I am at the age I remember my Mom being. I still think of her as 40, and here I am, a year away from that milestone myself.

Having my son has made me more responsible, or rather, has imbued me with a sense of responsibility, of being responsible for a whole other life outside my own. And that makes me feel a bit older than 16. But, still, not much older.

That I had him when I was 30 remains incomprehensible to me because 30 seems so far away – in the future. So him turning 9 and me turning 39 this year is something my little brain just can’t quite wrap itself around.

But then I’ve always had difficulty with numbers.

In the end, I don’t think the number that corresponds to our age is important. That really just is a number. Age is more about how you feel and what you have lived through. It is about experience and wisdom more than it is about the simple number of years you’ve been on this planet.

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22 thoughts on “It’s All a State of Mind

  1. You know how many people are utterly dumbfounded by your sentiments in this post, but I can completely relate. I haven’t aged much since I turned 16, but even before then, I was fighting to be considered older, more mature, wiser – I don’t know, I guess I too attach a lot of “respect” to those attributes. I say you can be wise beyond your years and continue to keep em guessing about your age!

    • Ha! I like that solution! And thanks, I’m glad to hear you know what I mean. I probably shouldn’t care what anyone thinks but it’s just the way I am.

  2. Love your outlook on this and hearing more about you personally see yourself. I recall feeling the same sentiment, about wanting to be taken seriously, especially as a woman in a management role. So many people I worked with just dismissed me in my 20s like I was some airhead. I was thrilled to turn 30, and felt that great balance of respect and youth throughout…. BUT….40 was ok…. but after that (I’m 44 now), can’t say I’m thrilled because that just sounds older–and I don’t feel it or look it ( I don’t think…) and never will if I can help it…so love your last line…it is all in the mindset and history, not the number.

    • Thanks for the comment, Robin! You’re lucky to have experienced a mix of respect and youth in your 30s. I did, a few times, as well, once I had proved myself beyond doubt. As for turning 40, I’ve heard it’s the new 30, whatever that means! As I say, it’s all just numbers and they don’t really matter.

  3. Bravo – age is just a number – life is to be lived and experienced. Then we get to take away what is important to us and from those we respect. Bravo

  4. So strange, and so satisfying to read your words, just as I would describe myself. Somethere on the other side of the globe there is a person thinking, feeling so similar to me… I’m 40, my son has turned 4 today 🙂

    • Such a lovely comment, and so nice to “meet” you. I’m glad my thoughts resonated with you and that you got in touch. The world continues to shrink as I meet wonderful people from here and there. Happy birthday to your son!

  5. I think you’re absolutely right. There are disadvantages to looking youthful. People can dismiss you. I know all about it. However, I think or I’m hoping that there’s a point where there’s a switch. Looking younger starts working in your favor. Thanks.

    • Thank YOU! I hope there is a switch too. But I think the key is to try to enjoy any positives now, instead of trying to get to that point. This just dawned on me now – a little bit of wisdom, perhaps?

  6. There are times to be serious and mature – and times to be young in spirit and heart. Essentially, it’s the balance between the two – and if you feel young and your spirit soars and sings, and others find this unbelievable, then, yes, perhaps you are indeed “wise” – because apart from genetics – the spirit is our essence and if we are true to it, then “age”- the number, is irrelevant, in my opinion. And for those who are constantly quibbling and remarking about your “maturity” and questioning your age -well, perhaps, they just don’t get it. Now, if we could just :”bottle this message” and sell it – we’d be rich! (Chuckling) …. but the best gifts – so even if today isn’t technically your birthday Silverleaf – Happy Birthday – are the ones that are free, and given with love and generosity. So – —-> gifted to you <—–

    And yes, I do understand – because I face such similar situations as you – and yes, it *does* get irksome – so I figured a while ago – to just smile, accept the "condescending tone" and KEEP smiling. I don't need to explain or justify to anyone other than myself. So why should you?

    • Such a lovely message, Pat, thank you xx

      You’re quite right – the key is to keep smiling, not explain or justify and try our best not to care what others think. That last one is the thing I have the most trouble with, but perhaps smiling is the first step. That and allowing one’s spirit to soar and sing.

      • I think most of us, if we are honest – have a problem to some degree or other – with the “not caring what others think” – some, of course, more than others – but yes, smile and it keeps them guessing, as a high school friend used to say, is often the most intriguing way – and most satisfying too ;0

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