…you know, November 10, my 39th birthday, but I was too busy having birthday fun to spend time writing a blog post.
Last week at the competition, two of my competitors were near my age*, one was 39, and the other was 40 or 41. I thought nothing of this at first, because I think age is, overall, no big deal, but then they started referring to themselves as members of the geriatric squad.
Geriatric squad. Seriously? I am not a child and I would balk at being called a ‘young woman’ – not because it would be insulting, but because it is inaccurate. But I am not part of the geriatric squad by any means. Despite being the same age, I felt significantly younger than them because I had a different attitude.
It just seems so weird to me to claim to be soooooo old at our age. Sure, I joke about being old from time to time, but it’s along the lines of ‘Oh, I’m old, I don’t have to try and impress people anymore.’ – All about the advantages of being my age, instead any possible disadvantages.
What is the purpose? Is it to let yourself off the hook for not performing up to your own expectations? Is it to get people to give you a break, or to not expect much of you? **Is it about checking out of things a bit early?
My Uncle, who died in 2001, decided at 40 that he was old. He started referring to himself as ‘an old fella’ and he started aligning himself with my Grandmother, who was almost 40 years older than him. He began complaining about aches and pains all the time, he stopped trying new things, and he developed a really closed-minded attitude toward the world around him.
So clearly, I have baggage about people claiming to be aged. But this was definitely beyond my baggage. I can’t figure out exactly what it was about though.
Maybe it had to do with being a woman who is now standing on her own, no longer trading on being cute (or whatever)? Perhaps if you admit to being old first then no one can accuse you of acting young, or dismiss you because of your age?
For me, being 39 is just fine. I feel mostly the same way about the world and its possiblities as I did when I was 20, or 27 or 33, except that I am much more confident in my role in it. So I will keep operating as if I can do the things I want to do, until I find things that I can’t. Then I will figure out if those things are actually impossible, or if I just need to practice.
And let me tell you, those things better be pretty clearly impossible, or I will likely just keep beating my head against the wall of whatever I am trying to accomplish until I find a way.
I don’t have a set of behaviours (too old/too young) attached to any given age, and I will keep doing the things I enjoy whenever I can. I won’t determine that I am ‘too old’ to get good at Taekwon-do, or ‘too old’ to go dancing, or ‘too old’ to try a new way of looking at things because that mindset makes no sense to me.
The only downside about being 39, is that people assume I am lying and that I am actually 40 or 45. Seeing as I would never try to claim to be any younger than I am, I find that really damn irritating. I am the age I am, and that’s cool. Claiming anything else is inauthentic, and that doesn’t fly with me.
I would like to be able to tell the other competitors that their divisions don’t work for me, and that they don’t have to think like that. Except, of course, that they might be ‘too old’ to believe me.
*The fourth was 26, but she wasn’t part of the odd situation I’m describing.
**Am I overthinking a casual joke? Highly likely.