The Uncomfortable Truth About Aging
by Jo Macdonald
Since launching this magazine I have chatted to and interviewed many women over 40, and read endless articles and books on aging. Here is what I've discovered about getting old...
It's all bullshit (excuse my language), but it really is. And I'm kind of mad about it.
You see, I feel that for the first 40 years of my life I was fed an endless stream of lies about getting old, about how we go downhill in every sense of the word, and how illness and disease were inevitable. About how being older means you somehow become less valuable.
And yet, as I've chatted to women who have started businesses, taken up triathlon running, or moved to new countries, and read about women going on huge adventures and confessing that they feel better than ever, I have realised that how we age REALLY is up to US!
It's up to us to decide what aging is going to look like...and then take responsibility for it! We are all different and life after 40 will be different for each of us.
BUT...it is crucial that we shift our perception of aging now. Today.
Because, what we believe we become. If we think we are old, instead of just getting older, then we will become old. We will start to embody the habits and behaviours that fit our idea (i.e. the version society has been peddling for years) of being 'old'. We will use it as an excuse to not do things, to move less, to live a smaller life. In other words: our age will become a convenient excuse to take less care of ourselves.
But, if instead we just see ourselves as someone who happens to be getting older (as we have been since the moment we were born), we will just get on with living the way we want to. When we no longer see our age as a barrier to anything we want then we are free to keep growing and learning, and that opens up an endless world of possibilities. When we no longer see ourselves as 'old' our attitude, energy, and entire mindset is able to change, as proved in this experiment.
But here's the catch, we humans LOVE an excuse, we love to give ourselves an out, and 'I'm old' or 'it's because of my age' is one of the best there is, because for so long society has been supporting that view.
Putting on weight? It's because I'm over 40 now.
Getting a bit out of shape? Oh well, it's to be expected after 40.
Haven't ticked off some big dreams and desires? It's too late now, I'm too old.
I've been dealing with a health issue lately and the first thing several friends said to me was 'Oh, it's because we're all getting old now, it's to be expected.' The thing is this particular issue isn't age realated at all, but immediately they all attributed it to age rather than anything else.
Of course there are certain things that happen with age, I don't want to be unrealistic or dismissive BUT a great deal of things that happen to us as we age are because of lifestyle choices. Being over 40 is the perfect excuse to stay inside your comfort zone, to stop taking risks or chances, to avoid failure or facing your fears, to stop working out or eating well. And that's the uncomfortable truth about aging, so many of us are using our age as an excuse to not do the things that are difficult, or require us to ask the hard questions, to take full responsibility for our life and health, to step out of our comfort zone and live up to our potential. Because it's easier to blame anything we're not happy about on something we can't control, rather than look at our own choices.
With more and more people rewriting the story of aging and proving that age doesn't have to stop us from doing anything (whether it's taking up marathon running, starting a new business, career, or life, or travelling the world), the 'I'm too old' excuse is beginning to carry less and less weight.
So, here's the question...
Are you using age as an excuse?
What do you want your 'old' age to look like? To feel like? How are you going to choose to Love Your Life After 40?