Private! Do not read this if you are under the age of 55! Does that sound discriminatory? Perhaps. Are people over 55 ever discriminated against? Yes, of course! There’s even a word for it – “Ageism”. But I’m here to lend support to my peers.
As someone who has crossed that threshold and still feels young inside, I find it puzzling. I’m still the same person with the same brilliant ideas and great sense of humor, but since allowing myself to go grey, things have changed. Ok, actually my hair is more of a lovely silver on top, but regardless, it still classifies me as old, I guess. From what I understand, it’s not as distinguished for a women to let her hair go natural. I think people see it as “giving up”. But I felt it empowering somehow. Of course, it’s not just my hair that makes me appear older, but that definitely was a game changer.
What I noticed was that people talked to me differently. Strangers began calling me dear and sweetheart! Some talked a little louder. When attending a Zumba class recently with my oldest daughter, some participants seemed concerned for my well being. I was actually able to keep up quite well. I had to – I had to prove a point. I’ve noticed too, that at restaurants and in lines, I have acquired a superpower. I believe I am now invisible! I must be, as I do not receive the attention or help that I once did.
I decided that the people my age and older need a cheerleader and advocate. I’m here to tell you that you can still achieve dreams, still see the world, still feel attractive and still enjoy living. You can fall in love, learn a new skill, be a mentor to someone and be there as a great influence for your grandchildren. You have great worth. Other cultures value their elderly and recognize their experience and wisdom and celebrate them. They are viewed as treasures and in their country, could even be punished legally for not taking care of their elderly. The US has a few things to learn about these matters.
All right, if you are under 55 and still reading this, it’s ok. I don’t mind that you are here, because I want to tell you that when your time comes, don’t be afraid. I’m here to validate and encourage you on your journey. I’m here to say that there are still exciting opportunities ahead. You may have to fight a little to be heard, but I am optimistic, and believe that 50, 60, 70, and beyond, is changing from what it used to be perceived as. Boundaries are being broken, as we see older people running marathons, being body builders, still working into their 70’s and going to college. I’m also here to tell you to value the older person in line in front of you at the store that might be a little slower or chatty….it might just be me.