In Essays on
June 25, 2016

On Ageing… Not Gracefully, But Proudly

A few words about ignoring “30 under 30 lists” & measuring your life in stories, not years. 


I’ve always struggled with age. I’ve wept at the sight of a new eye wrinkle, avoided showing my passport like the plague, and spent more than I’m willing to admit on anti-ageing creams that don’t *really* do much at all.

Perhaps it’s because, for a long period of time, I was defined by being “the youngest” to do X. “Oh, it doesn’t matter” I’d tell myself, “I’m the youngest manager.” “The youngest employee.” “The youngest.” My age was my numeric measure of success.

And then, of course, I got older.

Our generation has grown up under the pressure of Forbes 30 under 30 lists. We spent our teenage years craving to be older, lying about our age to guys and to get into clubs, only to hit our twenties and declare ourselves as “past it”. It’s confusing. It can be exhausting. 

But why do we allow our age, (this merely factual number, akin to shoe or dress size) define who we are?

Because I, like you, am not my age. I am the songs I love singing badly, the books I lose myself in, the articles I’m in awe of, the places I chose to travel, the friends I chose to see, and all of the small things and experiences that make up who I am. I will be all of these things at 24, 46 and 79. 

If you think about it, our age is perhaps the most boring thing about us.

Some people are old souls at 18, and others are hopelessly young at 90. Time is a concept that humans created. 

Getting older is about getting to know yourself better. About making yourself the priority. About becoming a little more you each day.

So let’s throw away the rule book, dismiss the magazines, and refuse the ideals that told us growing older is a negative thing. Let’s stop cringing at the milestones of 30, 40, 50 and 80, and celebrate the fact that we’re healthy. Growing older is a privilege denied to many. 

Let’s stop holding onto our youth like sand slipping through our fingers, and let go. Being young, really, wasn’t that great anyway. Would you honestly want to be that naive, lost and broke again? 

Here’s to measuring your life in stories, rather than years. Instead of thinking about all of the things we’ll miss about our past, let’s focus on the things we’re looking forward to. Each birthday isn’t lost youth, but a new stage of opportunity.

It’s never too late to start celebrating your life, fine lines and all.

Today, on my birthday, I’m blowing out all of the candles. Not gracefully, but proudly.

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  • Christine

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    October 26, 2016 at 8:51 pm Reply
  • Jen McGahan

    Amen, sister! I love this life… keep it coming, I say. By the way, ever since I was a wee kiddo, I’ve thought the real power age for a woman was 50. I’ve always admired 50-year-olds, wanted to be 50, do things 50-year-old women did, etc… Not sure where that came from, but I remember being in second grade and thinking I’d make a good 50-year-old. Well. I’ll be 50 next year, and I feel like Ii’m just gaining speed. So there you go. P.S. saw this on the Muse first.

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