Thoughts On Reaching A “Certain Age”

All my life I’ve been surrounded by women who are ashamed to have anyone know how old they are, and the old cliche that a woman’s age should be secret, that there’s something disgraceful about the passage of time for a woman. And when I said I wasn’t going to dye my hair when it started to turn grey, and that I was going to be proud of my age, they all said, oh, you’ll feel different when you get there.

Not sure what age that “when you get there” is supposed to be, but societal norms certainly tell me that thirty is one of those pivotal moments when I’m supposed to feel old. So it’s kind of timely that this amusing moment happened the other day:

We had pulled the Citabria up to the fuel pump, and one of the dispatchers came to fuel it up. He didn’t wait for us to get out, just pulled the 1500lb+ plane forward with both of us in it. I made a comment about him being a manly man. Sandra made a comment about us being a pair of cougars.

I was like, wait, what? I’m not old enough to be….wait a minute, how old is he?

Turns out he’s nineteen. A full ten years younger than me. And it doesn’t even matter that I wasn’t even actually flirting – I’m married, after all. I was surprised he even heard me over the wind and engines of the other planes.

It ended up being pretty funny – the dispatcher was killing himself laughing. Which is fine – I can handle humour being at my expense. With friends, I’ve set myself up to be the butt of jokes sometimes, just because my friends are clever and the jokes will be entertaining, so I was laughing as hard as he was.

But it was still a bit of a shock. I mean, I kind of had the feeling I was around that age that people talk about. That age that society dictates that I should be ashamed and hide my age. That age that they all told me I’d feel different about it than I did when I was “younger.”

And you know what? I do feel different about it. But not the way they said I would. They said I would feel embarrassed and ashamed to be as old as I am. Well that’s not how I feel. I feel annoyed at society’s silly expectations, and ready to flip them the bird.

I’m twenty-nine and eleven months, and I don’t need anyone to think I’m under twenty five to rock my life, so anyone who thinks otherwise can suck it.

So there.

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8 responses to “Thoughts On Reaching A “Certain Age”

  1. I turn thirty as well this year (in 13 days, actually 😛 ), and I have to laugh – In the last two months, I’ve had:
    a) higher-up officials from the university career recruitment day assume I was a “summer student looking for employment at [big company]”, rather than a 8yr employee of said [big company], who was also the expert in the department, and
    b) a friend of one of my summer students look at me and assume I “was going on the summer student tour”.

    So yeah. Nearly 30, still apparently look 18-22. I’m OK with that, cause I’m mentally 23 anyways 😛

    • I get that a lot too, and I also sound really young over the phone, so I get a lot of people giving me flak for not being old enough to explain to them how their computer works and people assuming I’m less competent than my male peers. It’s annoying when I realize my male peers don’t have to put up with that.

  2. Good for you, Lindsay! I hope you still feel that way in 10 years (I’m 40). I don’t feel my age in most ways, so it’s sort of this weird realization. “Damn, I’m 40???” But other times it’s like, “Dude. You can’t treat me like a kid anymore. I’m frickin 40 here.” I don’t hide my age, but I admit sometimes it does feel uncomfortable that I’m “that old.” Particularly with the high school students I teach, who think 40 is just ancient.

    • Ha – so many people have that attitude, and I’ve never thought that 40 was old. 40 is just parent age, and I never considered my parents old. My grandparents were what qualified as old, and that was 60+ as far as I was concerned, and at that point you’d better be over it, I think 🙂

  3. I’m not sure who the “they” you were referring to are, but yer right Lindsay. Even without the stigmas, this this age thing is confusing to say the least. As you say, benchmarks and signposts are presented to us through the mechanisms of societal mores and standards. Most are arbitrary; Like reaching an age with a zero tacked on. All are artificial to one extent or another.
    Some are physical in ways not limited to beauty, They are associated with our bodies and age related abilities. I am 61. A meaningless number on it’s own unless you tack on the fact I have acquired an unenviable collection of medical specialists, and cannot do some of the things I used to do without additional effort. I am in physical decline.
    So how does one explain the fact I am having a great time You can see my confusion. I play. I goof around. I converse. I debate. I learn. I grow. I maintain my enthusiasm for stuff I am supposed to have abandoned for more age appropriate pastimes; such as, hmm… swatting flies from a rocker.
    Apart from the physical issues, I can testify that even being 61 has distinct advantages. For one thing young people think your wise!
    Anyway, accumulating birthdays is also the process of becoming more than you were. A few months ago you were not cavorting in the clouds. Next year???
    Anyway, keep it up.

    • Yes to to wisdom with age. I’m far more courageous and purposeful now than I was at twenty. Now I look at the world and think more about what’s really important, and less about what people will think of me, and I see people around me sucked in by a need to keep up some sort of appearance, to have the latest gadget, agonizing over whether to say happy birthday via a phone call or a facebook comment, or obsessing over someone leaving a facebook happy birthday and not calling (or vice versa). I’ve let go of the idea that if this one little thing doesn’t get set right, my life won’t be complete.

  4. Bette Davis said getting older isn’t for sissies. She was right. Aging has its moments, good and bad. As you get older you become smarter, more wily, and more fearless than you’ve ever been. So, keep flipping off society’s norms and keep flying, baby!

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