My thoughts on “Age”
In the first of (maybe) a series of quizzie posts, I’m looking at the issue of Age. I took a Blogthings Quiz called “What age do you act?”. Interesting question, because one of the reasons I blog (which I’ve repeated ad nauseum here, so forgive me if you’ve read this before) is that this is a place where I can just express “me” as “ME”, without reference to such qualifiers as relationship status, occupation, sexual preference, gender, race, political leanings, height, weight, and a host of others, including, of course…age! I have been told, repeatedly, over the course of my life, to “act my age”, but I don’t think I really have…
Here are my quiz results:
You Act Like You Are 32 Years Old
“You are a thirty-something at heart. You’ve had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!
“You’re responsible, wise, and have enough experience to understand a lot of the world.
“You’re at the point in your life where you understand yourself pretty well.
You are figuring out what you want… and how to get it!”
I’ve taken many quizzes from this site before. Some are fairly lightweight and silly, while others offer…if not definitive answers…provocative discussion material. This one, I think, was well-structured. It did contain some pertinent evaluative questions.
I’m not, actually, 32 years old. However I have been or will be, and I find this evaluation of my “age” quite acceptable. I have a friend who says: “My age is none of your business. In fact, it’s none of MY business.” I get what he means, here. Society places a set of expectations upon certain age groups; in my culture it starts early with the phrase “the terrible twos”. This implies that as soon as your infant reaches two years old, she will be a terror! For a whole year! I have had some young relatives and friends who’ve entered and left that year while remaining relatively charming the whole time. It most definitely is NOT inherent, or necessary, that an age expectation become an age reality!
I have another friend who, after meeting someone new, will ask me “How old do you think s/he is?” Actually, now that I think about it, she doesn’t ask me that much anymore, because I don’t “play nice” in this game. I’ll say “I dunno. 38? 62?”—I really don’t have a clue, a lot of the time. You must have noticed that most people over the age of 25-30 or so, vary widely in how much they “look their age”. I’ve heard, countless times from people (including myself, hehe), when made aware of a colleague’s age for the first time: “I can’t believe they’re only XX! They look at least YY!!!”, or the other way around.
To me, the age one “seems” has a few components:
1. Your face. Your face is the most personal part of you, and tells a story. The story includes things like how much solar radiation you have been exposed to, whether you have smoked tobacco a lot in your life, your general state of health, perhaps plastic surgery if that applies, and, the most important: how much stress you’ve had and/or been able to eliminate in life, AND how much joy and pleasure you’ve experienced. Most of these things are modifiable, to some extent.
2. Your body. Basically, if you are actively pursuing the three aspects of physical well-being (strength, flexibility, and aerobic capacity) to the extent you are able, you will do much to feel comfortable in your body and the world. I realize that many people have physical issues, and I’m not trying to give advice, here. What I am doing, however, is agreeing with some writers that in my western culture we have become a civilization of muscle-atrophy, rather than muscle maintenance. Our bodies are meant to be used! (by ourselves, not others—that’s another topic!), and most people with disabilities or results from injuries can do something to help their situation with exercise, even if it requires help from physical therapists.
There was a fascinating study regarding people in their 90s, all residents of a retirement center. They had been “put out to pasture” by society, for all intents and purposes. A team came in and taught them how to lift weights safely, starting slowly and gently. After a period of time, some residents who had been in wheelchairs (not because of illness or injury, just because it was “easier” for them and their caretakers) began to walk. Those that could walk began to dance. Almost all reported an increased level of well-being; and no wonder!
3. Many advisers counsel good nutrition as an important component of remaining young-feeling. I’m not convinced that any one eating method is the best, but will say that eating nutritious food, most of the time, just feels better, along with supporting the immune system and regulating weight. But it does have to feel good to the person involved, and, without a junk-food binge once in a while, many of us would feel deprived!
4. Which brings me to the most important item: How one feels emotionally! This single point of attention overrides all the others. In fact, one can be completely physically disabled, yet still feel fulfilled, excited and looking forward to each day. There are times when I’m decidedly NOT feeling that way, and my first order of business has to be to get as close to that feeling as I can, as soon as I can. All else stems from that. Sometimes I do this by complaining about my circumstances. I do allow myself a small amount of time to do that, but choose to be careful that it doesn’t become addicting. Other ways to deal are some old new age tools (is that contradictory?) like making a list of ten things I appreciate, or sitting quietly and breathing consciously for 20 minutes or so. Anyone reading this surely has their own ways to feel better. It’s probably best if those don’t involve excessive food, drugs, or alcohol; but who am I to say? 😉
Here is a fun (?) “Virtual Age” calculator that takes some of the above items into account. While I don’t agree on the importance of ALL the factors they are measuring there, it does provide some indications. According to this calculator, I have a life expectancy of 94! (Hmm, wonder if I’m going to be blogging all that time. Better start listing some more topics.) 😀
One of the gazillion things I like about blogging is that I meet people here of many different ages, some of whom I might not encounter if met in “Real Life”, because they are X number of years older or younger than I. I’ve noticed for a long time that some “adults” don’t really want to talk to or take seriously people who are 10 or 20 years younger than themselves; in the blogworld I tend to meet the person first, and find out their age later, if at all. This suits me; I get to find out about them right away without—even unconsciously—categorizing them first. People of any age have valuable things to say, and I’m pleased I can learn from those who are quite young. 🙂
Lest this post get too long (oh, well, too late) I’ll just close with a few comments on the old adage that “age is a state of mind”. I truly believe this, not in an abstract, “let’s affirm it” sort of way, but literally. Sometimes days go by when I don’t think about my age, as a number, at all, and when someone asks me to tell them (and I choose to) I might have to think for a moment or two to remember what it is. (Or, is that just early senility setting in?) 😉 Quite honestly, I don’t CARE how old other people are, and, for the most part, how old I am. People are just people, and the more I can let go of the need to classify them in one way or another, the happier I am.
So, thanks for reading, from a happy 32-year-old. If the Intertubes say it, it must be true, right?