My initial reaction when I looked in the mirror this morning was, oh no I look so old!!!!
You might think, so what’s the problem. In fact, this might even be your morning mantra. But what pulled me up this morning was the voice in my head. It was saying “at what point in life did I decide old was a bad thing!”
In reality, what was facing me this morning in the mirror was a washed-out face with bags under eyes after a late and restless night.
It was something that I have seen many times over the years. In fact it used to happen even in my twenties. It was self-inflicted! I should have gone to bed earlier, and it had nothing to do with age.
What also made me stop this morning was that only two days ago I had spent the day at the Benevolent Society. I was in a workshop on reframing ageing with a group of other older Australians.
I had always considered myself someone who values being older. A person who is determined to live a full life regardless of my age and I encourage others to do the same.
But what I learnt in that workshop was that yes, I too was ageist. What was even worse is it was against myself. And so here I was telling myself I was old!
No, it wasn’t deliberate. It was just somewhere along my life I had been programmed to think that old was bad (even though I was saying differently).
If it had been a challenging week, I would remark on how old I felt as I got out of the chair or on the days I needed to move more slowly. Looking at it now through a different lens I realized this is something that has been occurring all my life. And again nothing to do with age, it’s a symptom of the chronic illness I live with.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg on ageism against older individuals.
It permeates all corners of life. It seeps into how we work, play and interact with others as we grow older. The media encourages us to frame ageing as something to be feared. They tell us that we will be unwell, have no energy or love in our lives, that we are a drain on society, and that we need to stall the ageing process with lotions and potions.
And yet, I know older individuals who will tell you they are living the best time of their life.
As for me in my mid 50’s my energy levels are better than they were in my 30’s. A time when I was juggling home, work and raising two young children. I take better care of myself, I am travelling more and love life.
So, I have decided it’s time I reframe my unintentional negative talk around ageing. Reminding myself that each one of us has an individual story and not to stereotype and I encourage you to do the same.
My hope, to live in a world where individuals are valued for whoever they are at whatever age. A world where the right person is selected for the job irrespective of age. Where a person can choose to dye or not dye their hair and wear the clothes they want, there is no rule that says you must stop wearing jeans at a particular age!! Where I can work or not work, it’s all up to me, my choice.
Let’s create a movement a tribe of all ages, that values all ages.
If you are interested in hearing more about reframing ageing, let’s connect. I am happy to have a one on one conversation or talk with your group. Also check out the Every Age Counts Campaign and take the pledge to stand for a world without ageism.