I tend to call myself ‘old’ more often that I’d like to admit. For some reason I feel as though my prime years have left me and I’m chasing them, attempting to hold on to whatever is left of my youth as long as I possibly can.
More and more I hear myself and my friends making comments to one another like, “I’m too old for this,” or “I imagined I would be more accomplished at this age,” as we talk about the house we expected to have, the car we should be driving and the 401-K we planned to have started.
And for all the moments that we refer to ourselves as old, we forget that we aren’t even 30 yet.
This prompted me to wonder where did we get this idea that 28 is old? How did I come to believe that my age has somehow slipped into the category of some grim ‘near death’ age box?
Being part of the Millennial generation, we have come to believe that because our parents were buying a house or having kids at 23 means we should be doing the same thing on the same timeline. Unfortunately, the economy did not grace us with the same presence as it did our parents, and the opportunity to have those things is difficult when finding a minimum-wage job was near impossible.
As the economy tanked, more young adults found themselves with a college diploma and no job offers, and the reality of having to move home for a few years was harsh. Where we imagined we would be by 30 didn’t work out for many, and the idea that we are behind in life or old became ingrained in our minds.
And feeling behind in life is even worse when today’s culture is obsessed with youth. Staying young with cosmetic procedures like Botox have allowed women to maintain a youthful appearance because if you look young that must mean you’re healthy and active.
Women have even been groomed to believe men only desire women in their 20s, and when you hit your 40s you better hope you’re married because anything after 45 is too old.
Yet again here we are, placing an expiration date on ourselves as though being 50 means you can’t be healthy, active and youthful.
The idea that old is bad instills a level of fear in us that can be stressful. It places an enormous amount of stress on our shoulders to meet a certain set of standards, which can be good if only we weren’t competing with ourselves.
We are our own biggest critic, and the harsh labeling we place on ourselves that we’re ‘old’ only adds to the stress. At some point we must rid ourselves and future generations that turning 30 is old, or even turning 70 is old, because age is just a number. We can only be limited by the limits we place on ourselves, and without limits anything is possible, regardless of our age.