Are you one of those people who lies about your age?
Welcome to that particular club. I used to be member and I’ll tell you why.
Since childhood I’ve been blessed (or cursed) with a very young-sounding voice and good skin and I’ve been routinely categorized as being younger than I am.
Once I turned 40 I used this to my ‘advantage’ by lying about my age. Hence I was 38 for seven years and 42 for a further five. I’m not famous, I’m not rich and yet, I couldn’t quite bring myself to be openly closer to my real age, especially as 50 loomed closer.
I’ve often asked myself why I’ve done this ― and I think it has something to do with the fact many women in the media (and I’m talking about the UK here) feel invisible once they pass the big 40. I also know some men feel this way too. As if suddenly you are of less interest and less visible once you’ve reached that age.
I know for sure celebrities can feel this pressure to look ‘young’ too.
In my case I lost my job through redundancy at the age of 42 and felt my industry probably would not want me as a middle-aged woman. Working at that time in tv-land, there is a lot of angst and nonsense around age, especially for ladies. I remember distinctly deciding to ignore my age in pursuing my new career as a business person and when asked about my age, make light of it and lie about it ― unless required to prove my age for legal reasons.
So I did. Often and regularly.
Therefore I’m now going to say in 2016 I was 50 years old ― I’m 50 and proud, I’m not invisible, I’m good at what I do and I’m more alive than I’ve ever been.
How did I get from A to B-ing 50?
Reason One: Being Grateful
In the last five years I’ve lost two people who were very important to me (and still are) who didn’t get to 50.
When you lose someone young ― it makes you reflect on your own life. You can either wallow in self pity or you can seek to be positive around such a loss, the pain of which never quite leaves you. I’ve chosen the latter.
I lost my brother-in-law a few months before his 50th birthday. He went to the gym and never came home. I had to sit with my beloved sister when she told her children they would never see their father again. This leaves a mark. This was the moment I knew I needed to start thinking about owning my actual age. But I didn’t do it then ― I thought about it but didn’t do it.
In February last year (2015) I lost my friend Ainslie to breast cancer. She was 47, she was beautiful and she deserved to live. But she didn’t. She left a husband and a teenage son. Even though I knew she was going to pass away, it left me wretched again. This was the event which made me own my age. How lucky am I that I’ve been given 50 years when others have not? What makes me more deserving than them? Nothing.
Reason Two: Being Honest
My age has earned me the right to say what I do and don’t want out of life. This is very empowering.
It’s fine to say ‘no,’ however you choose to say that word. For some it might be a phrase ending in ‘off’ for others it may be more gentle.
While I personally love learning, love new things and new people ― that doesn’t mean I want to do everything to another person’s agenda.
For example, I don’t want to take part in any water sports of any kind, I don’t want to spend a day discovering my inner goddess, I don’t want to spend any weekends any way from my family unless I’m being very well paid. I just don’t ― and that’s enough.
I don’t have to justify that, I don’t have to explain it, that’s just the way that it is. I’m not here to please anyone outside of those I love, or those who pay me for my time and expertise.
Reason Three: Being Seen
I can make some improvements to my looks if I choose to do so ― at an affordable cost.
We have a habit in the UK of ‘looking down’ on those who want to stall the signs of aging through cosmetic surgery or aesthetic medicine, as somehow ‘weird’ or ‘damaged’. However it’s okay if you are disfigured in some way.
I think in most cases this is utter tripe. I don’t want to look like someone different, I don’t want to look like I’m caught in a permanent wind tunnel. Perhaps one day I’d like to look more refreshed though?
I think this holds true for women and for men.
By chance, over recent years, I’ve filmed a lot in the aesthetics sector and I think there’s nothing wrong with feeling better about oneself using such methods as Botox, Silhouette Soft threads, Ellanse dermal fillers, permanent hair removal or many other non-invasive ways to lift and plump out. Many of these are more affordable than people think.
Don’t look down on those who do this. If you partake of these procedures, don’t feel embarrassed. It’s okay, it’s your money, it’s your body, it’s your choice.
My advice though ― check out that the practitioner is fully qualified and medically trained.
Reason Four: Being Mindful
Age is just a number.
Is it? Not for me. I’ve got 50 years of life behind me and I still feel young inside. I feel more myself than I’ve ever been. I’m proud of that and I’m owning it.
So much of life is about being positive and it’s taken me the decade between being 40 and 50 to really understand what that means.
You can decide to be young in outlook, in your behavior and in your life decisions.
This doesn’t mean you are suddenly going to shop in all the trendy shops, listen to all the trendy music which you secretly hate, or dressing in clothing which frankly doesn’t suit you.
For me it means having fun, being silly sometimes, being cheerful, loving the exuberance and talent of those who are younger or older. Don’t act like you are an ‘old’ woman or man ― be excited.
If you find this difficult ― try to identify someone in your own circle around your age or older who you really admire for their outlook on life. Talk to them about their age and how they approach life. Open your eyes to those who live life to the full, regardless of age.
Reason Five: Being Kind
When I was 50 I knew my family would want to celebrate in some way ― and we did as a family privately.
However I wanted to do something else, something which made my age seem very valuable, valuable beyond a simple number.
So I chose to run a business event for charity. In this case in memory of my friend Ainslie ― Ainslie’s Pavilion Project (you can check it out on Facebook) and a second charity too. It was personal, it was real and in a small way, it gave back something in my own community.
What could you do that takes you outside of yourself? Could you raise money for charity? Do a skydive? Challenge yourself in some way? Promise it and actually do it?
I’d never done anything like this. I planned it, I talked about it and, in my own little world, in Wiltshire in the UK, I ran the event. It was a lovely evening and in total I raised about £900 for charity. A small sum but it made a big difference to my 50th year.
I’m not rich, I’m not famous ― but I’m 50, I’m Fiona and I’m proud. What about you?