Age is Just a Number; What’s in an age and what’s in a number?
Some will say that age is just an indication of how long you’ve lived your life.
A few will say it is a gauge point of where you are in achieving your goals.
Others happily say that age is no more than a number, used only to count the years that have gone by. And year after year, that number increases.
But does the life in that year increase as well? Such a comment is often heard from people who feel they have lived, and continue to live, their lives to the fullest. They look back unashamed of the choices, good or bad, they’ve made in the past. And with emphasis on ‘good or bad’; who is to pass judgement?
We live in a world seemingly obsessed with youth, and one which misguidedly attributes youth to beauty. We live in a time where people are always in a rush. What are people rushing to or for? You name it: success, recognition, wealth, and even love. Many of life’s targets seem to have an unwritten age timer to them; when the alarm goes off and you’re over the age of expected achievement, sorry but your time is up! It’s as if you don’t have a second chance at life.
People, who were once highly successful but have reached a certain age without repetition of that success, can be branded a ‘has been’, and often called that with derision and judgement. Young people on the rise, are lauded for how early on they tasted success but feel secretly pressured, by the fear of whether it will last or be repeated. Young men and women can be exposed, and exploited, to believe that by the time they reach their 30’s, they are regarded as old or past their prime. An unfair and ugly view which, sad to say, many people succumb to.
Age IS Just a Number
But we should know better! The paralysis of age can certainly settle in because of psychological, rather than physical reasons. Why should the years you have been on this Earth inhibit you from seeking your heart’s desire? Why allow supposed Commercial, or Industry norms to put a timeline or limit on your aspirations? Why swallow and follow the ageist opinions of some showbiz critic, or a top celebrity endorsers! Don’t let any one tell you your Best Before Date.
Instead, the next time you feel that you are too old to do something, ponder on the following: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are tennis players both in their 30s (36 and 31 respectively). Roger is world number 1, while Rafa is the world number 2. Younger players are way down the ATP ranking, and could not even come close in spite of the advantage of youth. Both players ‘wipe the floor’ with players at least 10 years younger than them.
In many sports, including tennis, to continue to compete in your 30’s was considered nothing more than a downhill experience. Yet these two players continue to scale heights in their sport, and defying that long accepted premise. Both players are also topping the ranks among the sexiest men in tennis, ahead of younger tennis stars, with Rafael on top (and why, oh why not). Rafael, in addition to bagging 16 grand slam titles, is also a Tommy Hilfiger underwear model. Roger, at 36 years old, has 20 grand slam titles in his pocket and is branded The GOAT or The Greatest Of All Time.
In the 1980’s the successful comedy sitcom The Golden Girls starred female actors (Betty White, Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty) who were in their 50’s. Maybe it was the fashion at the time (the 80’s were a particularly bad fashion decade) or maybe there was a deliberate intention to dress the actors to look like grandmas.
Fast forward to the present day and 50 year old’s are rarely portrayed that way now. The Sex and the City stars – Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davies, Kim Catrall, and Sarah Jessica Parker, were all in that age bracket when they filmed the second Sex and the City movie. The SATC series and movies may, on the onset, appear hilariously sketchy because of all the hyped fashion, the witty repartee, and open sex talk. But what it really did was empower women, in their mid 30’s and older, to not conform to an outdated expectation for how they should behave, look or dress but to embrace their sophistication, enjoy fashion for what it is and to relish in their single blessedness. These are women who continue to look sexy, current and fabulous.
Age is Just a Number: More examples of people who tasted success in their later years
Harlan David Sanders, better known by baby boomers and generation X as Colonel Sanders, founded Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), when he was 65 years old. Prior to that, he had a potted career history none of which was to do with cooking. Had he thought, at that time, “I’m too old to start something new” the World would be without his famous finger lickin’ good chicken, and he’d be without his millions.
Susan Boyle literally took the World by storm in the 2nd series of Britain’s Got Talent. Challenging everyone’s perception of both outward appearances and of there being a cut off age for ‘making it’. A 48 year old woman, from a tiny, unheard of Scottish village, strode on to a theater stage. Facing barely hidden laughter from the crowd, she silenced them, and a disbelieving Simon Cowell, with her first note of I Dreamed a Dream (Les Miserables). Singers in the industry will attest that the song is not easy to sing, let alone sing impeccably. Her performance was an earth-shattering wake up call to the Entertainment Industry. And what did Susan Boyle have to say about all the bashing? “I know what they were thinking but why should it matter as long as I can sing?” (The Sunday Times) You go, girl!
Vera Wang had been recognised as a seasoned figure skater, as well as a fashion editor, before deciding to become a Wedding Gown Designer at the age of 40. Leading up to her 1989 wedding, she commissioned her own wedding dress for USD 10,000. One year later, she opened her first bridal boutique. Did she allow herself to think her age would render her talent and creativity irrelevant because she was in the big 4-0? No, instead she recognised her years of experience and knowledge; “All those years of skating and dancing have carried over. I can’t design anything without thinking of how a woman’s body will look and move when she’s wearing it”.
Donald Fisher, after going through a series of entrepreneurial ventures founded The Gap together with his wife, at the age of 41. The Gap is now a USD16 billion a year company with more than 3,200 locations worldwide. Perhaps you are thinking that the age perception differs between a man and a woman but the point is his years of experience, from his ventures, paved the way to his multi-billion success. His age was the gas pedal and not the brakes.
In the Philippines, a certain brand of canned tuna is glorifying agelessness by organizing a swimsuit competition that holds no age category or age limit. Contenders of the title are between 30 and 50 years of age. Truth be told, with their bodies placed side by side, there is no telling the difference in ages at all. A 48 year old can look as hot, if not hotter, than a 30 year old. Imagine a competition like The Voice where blind auditions are not to conceal the face but to disregard the age. Kudos to this brand for promoting beauty and wellness at any age! And to the contenders, take pride that you had overcome a hurdle set by age. Can’t wait to see who is going to bag the coveted title.
Bb. Pilipinas Universe 1990 and former supermodel, Gem Padilla (Thomas) first got into running at age 38. Starting out just running with her friends around the village, it lead to her preparing for a half marathon in Subic, in 2009. She then set her mind to compete in the 2010 New York Marathon, competing one week before her 40th birthday. There was no stopping Gem from exceeding her limits. At 42, she finished her first triathlon at sprint distance (short race) later progressing to Olympic distance (long race), then she competed in a half Ironman, and on to the ultimate full distance Ironman, which she finished in New Zealand in 2013 at 43 years old. She repeated her full Ironman feat in Arizona in 2015, at 45 years old. Gem is now in her late 40’s and is training for her third full distance Ironman. She is the first Bb. Pilipinas winner to ever finish the New York Marathon, and the first to do full distance Ironman. She advocates a lifestyle of health, fitness, style and fashion, and looks as stunning now as the day she was crowned. Do you think she thought of stopping because of her age? ‘Over my dead sexy body!’ she would jest.
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream” – C.S. Lewis
The statement ‘age is just a number’ certainly does not pertain to only the looks.
We all know nowadays looks can be easily altered with the help of science and surgery. The statement could pertain to anything from starting a new hobby, learning a new language, pursuing further studies, traveling to a new country, starting a new relationship, trying on a new style of dress, getting a new haircut, or climbing Mt. Everest.
Age should not be the basis of your next move or your new goal.
It should not dictate what you should do, think, feel, and wear.
You read the last word right. Wear.
Why dress up like an old Lola when you can still don something stylish and appropriately sexy, and rock the look? If a woman in her late 40’s wants to wear a miniskirt, why inhibit herself because of the dictates of age norms. Why stop when she has million dollar legs that could stop a bullet train from its speeding tracks? It is high time to debunk all these beliefs of there being an age for everything (where to go, what to do, what to eat, who to see, what to say, when to marry, when to have a child, when to retire, how to dress up, etc.) and just be. Keep going. Keep running. Keep living. Otherwise, a timeline not met in your life will lead to frustration and worse, the sense of failure.
How can one turn age into just a number? Easy. Don’t count the years, spell the word. Spell every letter out, A – G – E, and expound on each letter.
Accept the fact that the years have gone by and will continue to go, as quickly as they come. This will keep you from longing to be young again. Youthfulness is not about being young. It is the ability to face challenges and confront trials with little or no apprehensions. Accept that aging is a thing of the past simply because you have already aged. And so what? Even babies age, every year at that. But like the effect of aging on babies, one need not get old as one ages. With the acceptance of age, you welcome the changes in your body positively. Aches and pains area part of life that deepen your threshold and strengthen your will. Accepting you’ve aged does not mean you accept getting old. When one ages, one only grows. But when one gets old, one deteriorates and depletes. Such is what happens when you forsake your playfulness, adventurism, curiosity, wanderlust, and purpose. Age is not synonymous to old and should not ever be.
In conjunction with the above, the passing of the years must be dealt with in grace. In other words, age gracefully. Keep your poise in everything you do. Confront matters with class. Keep your smarts as this will always get you where you want to go. Stop trying too hard to look young again as there is no shame in maturity and sophistication. Refrain from resorting to the superficiality of artificiality. For instance, did it ever occur to you that wearing too much make up would not really conceal one’s age? It actually highlights it because it is screaming hidden lines, bags and spots. Bear in mind, anything unnatural is unattractive and unflattering. And let us not get started on facial reconstruction. Beware as this can be habit forming and before you know that you’ve done too much, your face is a model for a wax museum.
There are natural ways to aging gracefully:
Keep hydrated all the time to lock in the moisture in your skin and the entire body;
Detox. Garbage in, garbage out. Whatever you take in will eventually turn out in the form of muffin tops, cellulite, saddlebags, skin disorders, and illnesses. Toxins cause premature aging;
Sleep. Plenty and more. They say the best time to sleep is between 10pm and 1am as this is when used up cells regenerate instead of die, enabling the body to work less, rather than creating new cells. True or not, what have you got to lose? This may be the reason why despite an 8 hour sleep, if slept later than 2 am, you don’t feel refresh and rested waking up;
Move and sweat. Keep the heart pumping through motion and activities. Walk, run, bike, surf, dance, do chores, take the stairs, stretch. Not only is it good for the heart, the figure and the muscles, the blood circulation help rid the body of aches and pains;
Smile. They say it takes fewer muscles to do so than to frown. Pouting may be sexy but limit that to selfies and photo ops. There’s a reason the lips curve up when you smile. It pulls up the face and gives it a lift. Unlike frowning that pulls down the face causing it to sag. Stop being a grouch. Quit being cranky. Don’t sweat the small stuff. If the matter is not worth the wrinkles, let it slide. Find happiness or joy in even the littlest of things;
Stay away from anything or anyone negative. Remember the saying, ‘misery loves company’. Negative people can be infectious. They are anchors and they simply refuse to be happy so they try to bring everyone down with them. Life is too short to stay miserable. If a friend is negative, best to limit interaction to small doses for your own sanity and youth preservation.
Consider enthusiasm the added log to the fire of longevity. Find enthusiasm in everything you choose to do. Engage in new things that will perk you up and keep you happy. Learn new things and bury all thoughts of an age minimum or maximum. To finish anything, you need to start and there is no rule book that says you can only start learning new things at a certain age. Don’t let what you thought your age can’t do get in the way of what you actually can do. Devote more time to what you enjoy the most. And if mistakes happen along the way, learn and move on. Stay positive. If anyone tells you that you are to old for anything, don’t give in. Give them back their words for them to eat, chew and swallow. These are the negative people you should stay away from. Their words reflect their life’s little meaning because of the inhibitions they allow themselves to have.
“Don’t just count your years, make your years count.” – George Meredith
To recap, when you give age the importance and the power to plot your life, you will be following a very short path. Don’t allow age to be the barrier to your aspirations and goals. Age is not what matters as it simply indicates the passage of time making it only a number. But it is a number that will not go away for as long as you live hence don’t fight it. Work with age and not against it. Work with all the positives that age brings like when they say wisdom is ascribed to age. Use the wisdom then. Experience usually accompanies age. Then collect the experience… and don’t stop… just keep collecting.
What all the above is saying is this, it is never taboo to try; it is never too late to start; and YOU are never too old to do.
“Live your life and forget your age.” – Norman Vincent Peale