Our culture here in the United States is one that values youth and beauty over experience and wisdom. How do we know? Just take a look around.
As Psychology Today says, “We are bombarded daily with images via magazines, billboards, television, and the internet. It’s all about the look and the image, not about the experience and wisdom behind the eyes. Virtually every public figure has had “work” done to their face or body…”
I don’t agree with the “virtually every public figure” statement. I am sure (I think?) that there are those in the public eye who haven’t had anything done. But there are a staggering amount of folks, of both the celebrity and regular ilk, who have. From just a little bit of Botox to complete face-and-body overhauls, we strive to maintain that appearance of dewy youth.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe we all have the right to choose what makes us feel the best about ourselves. If it works for you, that’s great. No judgement, here.
But in some cases, I think chasing youth is a siren’s call. I’ve seen it take people to dark places, where one thing leads to another and it’s never enough. In these cases, especially, I think it’s more about relevance than appearance.
How do you fight against the youth-obsessed tide all around you? How do you help but compare yourself to the perfect 30-year-old on the wrinkle serum commercial or the strapping 28-year-old guy on the cover of a fitness magazine? Maybe the answer is: Don’t.
Don’t fight it.
Instead, change the tide. Reject the notion that we become “less” as we get older.
How do we do that?
For one, we stop saying things like, “I’m old.” Or, “I feel so old.” Or, “Wait until you get old.” In reality, most of us ARE young at heart. Very few of us feel like a drastically different person than we were 20 years ago, so why do we talk that way? It’s almost as if we feel a need to point out our age before someone else does.
Second, we can celebrate EVERY birthday. Even the big ones. And the bigger ones. Embrace those numbers. Announce them. Shower them with confetti. Show the younger generations that aging isn’t something to hide.
Third, defy expectations. Don’t shrink into the corner. Remain active and involved both physically and mentally and prove your worth to the world–all the way until you’re 110. Then you can rest a bit.
And last, never stop cultivating relationships with people of all ages. You can learn from those who are older than you, but also from those who are younger. You can teach them, too.
That’s positive aging.
As Frank Sinatra sang, “I think of my life as vintage wine, from fine old kegs, from the brim to the dregs. And it poured sweet and clear. It was a very good year.”
Make every year a very good year.
Until we meet…