All my life I have been obsessed with hiding my age beginning with overstating my age on a job application when I was 14 and too young to work. Later in life (20ties, 30ties), people would say I looked very young for my age. In my 40ties, that response was heard less frequently, and one day a handsome young man (25 to 30) called me Mam. That was soon followed by one of my adult students (35ish) who said I reminded him of his mother… OW! And by the way… I was not old enough to be his mother!
I became adroit at avoiding the subject of my age and one day my adult daughter said even she was not sure of my age. When Internet sites requested date of birth, I finally had the freedom to be whatever age I wanted. Again, my daughter called me out when she saw that my Facebook age made me years younger than she was.
Today, I find myself at another birthday milestone. I had wanted to celebrate with a capital C, but due to a variety factors… it did not happen, and I admit that it was my fault. I hemmed and hawed about what I wanted to do. Was going to celebrate with girlfriends, but got off track by attempting to share the birthday celebration with a very dear friend, and the calendar got away from us. Hubby wanted to take me to the Four Seasons restaurant, but I rejected that in favor of going to an old standby. So my left brain says “you should celebrate on the actual birth date”; “you can pick whatever date you want to celebrate”, but my right brain says “it’s not important, let it go”. Jill Taylor, author of My Stroke of Insight, would say I can decide which half of my mind to follow; ergo, I shall follow the advice of my right brain. (Note… I highly recommend her book.)
But I go astray, let me get back to this problem I have with telling my age. My husband’s continuous response is that age doesn’t matter, but it absolutely does. We use age to define ourselves and others. To the ten year old one might say “you’re big/small for your age”, and to the ninety year old one might say “you’re so sharp for your age”. I cringe whenever I hear about a senior who causes a car accident for fear the powers that be will place restrictions on all senior drivers. And, by the way… who is a senior?! Frequently, after my exercise classes, the thirty-somethings will marvel that I can keep up or exceed them in the workouts. At first, I felt complimented, until I realized I had been pigeon-holed again.
But, this is the year that I am getting over this whole age thing. Instead of avoiding the pigeon-hole, I am relishing being a role-model. I want people to see me and say Wow… I want to be just like her at that age.