What’s My Age Again?

Posted: January 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

This morning, as my bones creaked and groaned getting out of bed, I started to think about my age.

I’m 43.  I’ve never felt the need to lie about my age. Well, at least not to make myself younger. I cannot deny that I have considered saying I’m older than I am, just to hear someone say “You look fantastic!”

I’ve done a great deal of research with older adults and it seems that very few people feel their age.  I recall asking one woman at what ages she thought a person became old. She replied, “As soon as they think they’re old”.

Age, like everything else is relative and I think the experience of age is quite fluid. Take for instance an interaction with my young neighbour. He was telling me he would be having friends over for NYE drinks. I think it then occurred to him it would only be polite to invite me as well. I’m sure he was relieved when I declined with “That’s very kind of you, but I try not to hang around with people too much younger than me or I just feel like someone’s mom.”

I move between worlds that really mess with my sense of how old I am. At the university I am surrounded by young people who make me feel very old. Even compliments can have a backhandedness to them. Once among a ream of anonymous student evaluations I found such an example, “Marry me Dr. B.  I’ll take care of you in your old age.”  I suddenly felt like the old dog at the RSPCA. I moved from being the object of desire to the object of altruism in 13 words.

But then I go and work with older adults in my clinical and research work and I feel quite young again.  I’ve been complimented on my beauty (could be cataracts, but who cares? I’ll take it). I’ve been told my hair style is very modern. And I’m nearly always referred to as a girl, “Ah, you’re the girl from the university.”

This term is in turn completely counteracted by the comment of a pimply faced youth at the record store (although my age is pretty apparent calling it a record store) who viewed my purchases with surprise and said, “Nice choice lady.” Which as we all know is equivalent to, “Nice choice, grandma.”

So back and forth it goes. I suppose that is why this is called middle age. The interactions hover around the mean and I have not had experiences at the extremes – no one has invited me to a rave and no one has offered to help me across the road.

I don’t know if I feel 43. The only 43 I’ve ever felt is my own. I’m sure my aches and pains are due to my mattress and not my age. And I’m even more sure that making such excuses is not a sign of getting older.

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