Here’s a news flash that never ceases to shock me – I’m getting older.
I had a birthday last month. Let’s just say that I am closer to the end of my life now than I am to the beginning. And while my body is definitely getting older, somehow my brain doesn’t seem to have received the memo.
Here’s what I mean. This happens to me on a fairly regular basis: I’ll be walking past a store window and I’ll actually wonder, “who is that middle-aged woman?” Then I’m stunned to discover it’s me. I know it isn’t logical but I am expecting to see the 30-year-old me, not the “50-something” me.
In some ways these expectations are positive. They push me to stay healthy, to exercise and watch my weight. But they also can be destructive. Rather than celebrate the knowledge and success of my life so far, I’m beating myself up because I’m not as flexible as I once was. I find it harder to lose weight, and thanks to hot flashes, I am not sleeping all that well.
The good news is that on average we are living longer; but how valued are those longer lives in our youth-obsessed culture? Even Jane Fonda, who ruined my knees in the 1980s with her high-impact aerobics, is praised at age 75 for her “youthful sense of style” in a Versace dress. No mention of the kind of qualities that can only be acquired with time and experience … and a few wrinkles.
So I’m fighting back. I am going to try new things because no one thinks at my age I have to be good at something I’ve never done before. I’m going to stop being so hard on myself. I wish I could go back and tell the 47-year-old me how great she looks, even though I know I thought at the time I needed to lose weight.
I am going to remind myself that I have raised four kids, held down a full time job, moved from one side of the country to the other and have been married for 32 years. I can handle whatever challenge is on my plate without all the anxiety.
And rather than complain about growing old, I will remember I will never be as young as I am today.
Jo-Ann Roberts is an award-winning, veteran journalist who is host of CBC Radio’s All Points West, 3-6 pm weekday afternoons, 90.5 fm. Married to Ken Kelly, they have four children.