Friday, 6 July 2012
Growing old dis-gracefully
As my amazing holiday to Thailand gets increasingly closer I am a mix of emotions. Super excited of course, but my focus has shifted somewhat from the trip itself to the reason for going – my birthday.
Moreover, the age I will reach on said birthday.
I’ve seen a lot of people get to 30 and get a bit panicky about life and their future in general, making life changing or often rash decisions about their current life. This often boils down to them not matching up with their ‘plan’ or what’s generally expected of you by this point in your life.
For women, of course, there are a number of pressures we particularly face – the rush to get married, have proved ourselves on the career path and overwhelmingly the whole baby debate. I myself have certainly battled with two of the three issues over the recent months.
In fact I almost felt a big neon sign flash up when I caught sight of the main feature in Stylist magazine this week http://www.stylist.co.uk/life/are-you-ready-for-this-the-right-time-to-have-a-baby It’s like they know what I’m thinking at times their articles are so relevant!
Before you gasp in shock, no I’m not pregnant or planning a baby at present, but the idea of children and age has most certainly crossed my mind of late. I’ve also become more conscious of my appearance.
I don’t have – well don’t think so – any wrinkles just yet which is a plus point. However, losing weight has become a lot harder and as we can all verify hangovers are a lot worse. I definitely have a few stray grey hairs, the first one annoyingly appeared when I was at University – I can still remember my scream…
I’m also reminded quite regularly of my impending age in day-to-day life. Last weekend I went for a ‘girl’s night’ with some friends, out of the group I was the second youngest. Two of the ladies will be 31 later this year and one, granted, is only young at 25/26. We finished our meal and went to a wine bar (which was full of middle aged people), then strolled across to the more trendy ‘younger’ bar where you have to be over 25 to get in. All three girls got IDed, all three. I even stood patiently waiting, waiting for the security guy to ask for proof of age from me. Oh no, not needed, we all got gestured into the bar (after all three of my friends showed their identification).
At work recently we produced a video pitch for a trendy fashion site shall we say, the video was modern, included fashion snippets and a host of people from our company. We all agreed it was clear that the people included were picked for their good looks, style and young age. Not that I would have got involved since I have enough of a client base and it probably wouldn’t sit with the types of sites I manage, but I couldn’t help thinking hm I wouldn’t have made the cut for that group. I’m definitely at the wrong end of the 20s scale!
They always say you are only as old as you feel and I’ve seen lots of examples of this – even in my own family. My Auntie is 67 and she definitely does not look or act her age. Out of my grandparents, when they were alive, one set were very active, the other more into relaxing and sitting at home. You could see a visible difference in their appearance and mental health as a result.
I think it’s great to act young for your age. However, there is also the danger of taking this too far. We’ve all been on a night out and seen ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ cases. How do you ensure you age well and keep young, but not make a fool of yourself by thinking you’re a lot younger than you are?
In your late twenties/early thirties, as a female, how do you know if you should be getting more settled and focussing on having a little one, rather than planning your next travelling adventure? Nowadays we’re told women are leaving it later and there is more choice, but the fact remains nature still exists and biological limitations still apply.
People say it’s down to you and your choice, which ultimately it is. However, do outside pressures have too big a sway on your decision? I for one, definitely think so. Just from the way I’ve started to feel about my looks, my behaviour, my future, at 29, I can only imagine what I’ll be like post 30.
It’s a fact of life – we all grow old, we change, our faces age, our bodies alter, our hair gets grey, our attitudes differ. However, it’s the dealing with this that I’m finding a tad hard right now – the thought of my parents getting older is not something I’m comfortable with. And as for starting to look older and clearly being seen as someone more mature when socialising I’m not keen at all.
I regularly feel torn between enjoying my young side with people I know who are still in their early to mid twenties, to then feeling a need to 'grow up' and calm down with those around me in their 30s and married and/or with kids.
I’m trying desperately to focus on the excitement and happiness I should be feeling about my holiday in such an exotic location so new and unknown to me – to experiencing new foods, people, customs and sights. When I start to think for a minute about this I get butterflies in my tummy and my age gradually starts to get pushed out the picture, but for how long?
Age they say is nothing but a number. But is that really true? Or something we say as we age to reassure ourselves and stop us from feeling the guilt of missed experiences or not quite making life turn out how we wanted?
I’m sure this is all what one of my friends has described as natural behaviour – women aged 29-33 stay away from – they’re all desperate to marry and make babies apparently. When we first met when I was just a wee 21 year old I used to scoff at his comments and accuse him of being an arrogant sexist pig. Funny now as I’m within that age band my thoughts have taken a different turn…