Sometimes an article floats by on Facebook that really makes me think. Yesterday, this article on the perks of aging that no one talks about did that. The article talks about a woman named Ashton Applewhite, who has been writing about aging and ageism for a while. She spends a lot of time blogging, writing books, and speaking about what is and isn’t ageist. I guess someone has to do this, especially in these times when it’s considered a good idea to point out every instance of every -ism that you come across and try to make whoever made the mistake feel very, very bad for their ignorance or innocence (I may have issues with this, but it’s off topic).
In between lots of ads, the article makes points that may be new to my youngr friends, but are obvious to me. For example, my favorite: when you get to a certain age, the amount of f***s you give about other people’s opinions of you diminishes greatly.
I now feel a lot more comfortable wearing the clothing I like, when I want to, and just laugh it off when I’m told I’m not dressy enough for the occasion, or have too much turquoise jewelry on. I like it. And the blue hair? It cheers me up. No one’s going to fire me for doing it at this point in life, and it’s a way for me to enjoy my gray highlights even more than when they are undyed. And, if I want my fingernails in a variety of colors, so what (of course, I’ve done that since I was 14).
At this age you also can cut everyone else some slack, too. Applewhite doesn’t hold it against others who prefer to dye their hair, spend the money to get “facial work” done, or whatever makes them happy. Just because she or I don’t do a thing does not mean we’re judging you for doing it. And that feels good (although Applewhite does point out that many of these options are not available to people in most income ranges).
The thing is…
I feel better about myself now than I ever did, thanks to letting go of the expectations of others and “society” (whatever that is). I don’t worry about my rounded figure like I did not all that long ago. I am more amused at than bothered by my weird lip wrinkles.
I’m not worried about whether other people find me attractive or not, nor am I trying to make myself feel better by finding new relationships. I like me as I am, and my spouse as he is. Ahh.
I feel just fine with letting go of relationships that no longer work for me or the other person, but at the same time I feel much freer to forgive people who have wronged me or made mistakes.
By the time you hit 61, you realize we’ve all screwed up many, many times. I can’t find anyone who hasn’t said something awful, hurt someone, or committed acts frowned upon by society. To me, that makes you human. What’s important is what you do AFTER you make a mistake: do you learn and grow, make amends and apologize, or do you repeat what you did without caring who you hurt?
And another thing
I’d always thought I’d feel bad about getting older, knowing my remaining days in this life are becoming fewer. Instead, I mostly feel glad to have had all my past experiences, because they make me appreciate every day, every beautiful sight, every new discovery, and even the challenges (because I know I will get through them and learn something).
I can also see patterns now that I didn’t see before. I see pendulum swings from tolerance to intolerance, from understanding to finger-pointing, and I know things will turn around. I guess that’s helped me a lot in the last couple of years, when it’s not making me worry about history repeating itself. [Here would be a good place for an emoji.]
A message for any random younger person who reads this
I’ve noticed that a lot of you have very high standards for what is right and good. That’s a fine thing. But I have also noticed that you are really hard on people who don’t live up to your standards of correctness, in words or actions. And you are hard on yourselves, too.
Remember while you are judging others for not being this or that enough, that you either will or already have screwed up. Think about how you would like your peers to treat you. Then treat others like that. Let them learn from their errors, like I’ve done. Let them keep being productive members of your communities and circles. I’ve done it, and I’ve been on the receiving in, too.
I realize kindness and tolerance aren’t always popular right now. I hope thy will be again. At my age, that’s what I’m most grateful for: the ability to forgive and acept forgiveness. I’m glad I’m 61. There’s nothing at all wrong with that. Things aren’t perfect. That’s fine. A perfect life would be dull.
Share your thoughts, please?