So, you’re getting older, huh? I am too. Whether you’re in your teens, 20s, 30s, 40s or beyond, the reality is that we all are getting older. I think the real question is: Are we getting old?
Much like those four-letter words we were taught to avoid as kids, “old” is a three-letter word that is loaded with so many negative connotations that it puts some of those four-letter words to shame.
Take a glance at some of the synonyms for “old” and you’ll see what I mean: ancient, decrepit, elderly, gray, tired, fossil, senior, broken down, debilitated, enfeebled, exhausted, hoary, impaired, inactive, over the hill, past one’s prime, senile, wasted.
Talk about a downer.
The thing is, we’ve been conditioned to believe that getting older means you’re no longer interesting or relevant. This is particularly palpable in our American culture that praises youth as though it were some sort of achievement. (As if we had anything to do with when we were born!) Conversely, aging is practically considered a crime if we don’t do it gracefully or fight it as hard as possible.
But these ideas themselves are what’s old, stodgy and irrelevant.
The myth that getting old is a sad thing or a bad thing is exactly that: a myth.
It’s an old wives’ tale — or more fittingly, an immature delusion — that aging is a tragic reality that none of us want and all of us fear.
Now that I’ve hit the 40-year-old mark, does that mean I’ve hit my expiration date? Have I somehow hit a mountain of age — instead of a fountain of youth —where it’s all downhill from here?
Umm, hells to the no!
So far, I am finding my 40s to be a joyful journey into yet another era of my life; one that is much more focused on meaningful inward realizations rather than shallow outward rewards.
Yes, I love posting my latest vegan indulgence or lol-worthy meme on Instagram as much as the next person. But I also know that my worth does not hinge on how many likes or comments I get … or don’t get.
I am much more intentional with my time, my thoughts and my actions. I am more reflective and grateful about, well … everything. From folding laundry to literally stopping to smell the roses during my neighborhood walks, I find that aging has brought me a greater sense of serenity and gratitude.
Life has already gone by so quickly, and I’ve experienced the most painful loss that reminds me of how fleeting life is. I don’t have time to waste getting stressed about things that don’t matter in the big scheme of things. (Like being stuck in LA traffic or the fact that grey hairs have made their unrequested debut on my head.)
I spend time with my loving husband and the family and friends who fulfill me. I seek out new people, activities and adventures that spark my curiosity and make me feel good.
The countless insecurities of my 20s (and even 30s) are an increasingly distant memory. I would be lying if I said I was completely confident 100% of the time, but I’m so much more self-assured with each year that passes.
Just the fact that I dare to go bare — without makeup, that is — in public is a huge victory for me. Whether I’m grocery shopping or broadcasting live on my Homegirl Talk web show, feeling comfortable in my own skin is a blessing that has come with age. And when I feel like rocking the smokey eye or amping up my lip color, then I’ll do that, too.
So. The myth that getting old sucks? Don’t believe the gripe.
(This recent Reader’s Digest article debunking aging myths backs me up.)
When you take a look at some of the other synonyms for old, a much clearer picture begins to emerge: mature, well-versed, established, experienced, seasoned, skilled, verifiable, authentic.
Yasss!!! That’s more like it.
It’s a fact that we are all getting older. But I believe we have a choice to grow older.
To grow is to thrive, to abound, to branch out, to flourish, to expand and to develop.
Getting old might not always be fun. But growing older is an opportunity not to be missed.
For more information on kicking all those aging myths to the curb, be sure to check out DisruptAging.org
This post was made possible with support from AARP’s Disrupt Aging. All opinions are my own.
Lifestyle writer Mar Yvette is on a mission to bring you the best people, places and products to make your life pop!