It’s a universal truth that birthdays can leave you feeling oooooold.
For me, this started at an early age.
- At twelve, I thought I was too old to audition for Byker Grove (I should have done it when I was ten, dammit!).
- At sixteen, I thought I was too old to dance (surely you had to start classes as a baby if you wanted to be any good).
- At twenty one, I felt too old to travel the world (if only I’d done it at eighteen!).
Celebrating yet another birthday recently, the same feelings of regret trickled in; too young to do this, too old to do that – it’s exhausting. And more importantly, I’m discriminating against myself. I’m ageist.
Come along to a dance class and it’s like a queue at the bus stop; a diverse array of characters from all walks of life – from the eight-year-old female expert in pointe shoes, to the eighty five year-old male novice in a mustard-yellow Borat-inspired leotard (true story).
My mum got her first tattoo in her fifties. Whilst volunteering in Fiji, I met a woman in her sixties travelling the world (and fabulously, she was the one kissing the twenty-something boys). Neither women cared about what might be deemed “age appropriate”, they just did what they wanted to do.
Society is inherently ageist. We know this whenever we’re sold an ‘anti-aging’ lotion or potion, or when a woman is described as STILL (!!!) looking good in her forties.
But narrow-minded attitudes do not have to be contagious. Getting older means more experience, more wisdom and much more fun (I promise). I certainly can’t and wouldn’t want to control time – Bernard’s Watch taught us that it can leave you in a real pickle.
(Don’t be fooled by his beaming smile.)
Instead, I vow to never let my age hold me back from following my passions. The expressions “too old to…” or indeed, “too young to…” have now left my vocabulary. Birthdays are not to be feared but used as a reason to reflect, relax and celebrate… and to forgive yourself for not having achieved all your life ambitions just yet.
And hey, any excuse for obsessive amounts of cake is always a good one.