You don’t act like you’re 60. This is what a friend recently said to me. Now she has been elevated to BFF status.
I accepted the utterance as a compliment, but only after confirming that she did not think that my conduct and behavior resembled someone considerably older. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with acting in either directional decade.
Then I thought to myself, she didn’t comment about my not looking like I’m 60. That’s because while the first comment was completely sincere, the second would have been utterly disingenuous.
So just what does acting old mean? For me, it conjures up arcane stereotypes and images. And we are all so used to people saying that each decade is the new decade one or two below. Maybe that’s because we are blessed to live in an era of increasing longevity, medical advancements, and purposeful retirements. Or perhaps society is beginning to view aging as a positive development, one to be embraced and welcomed, rather than feared and scorned. It certainly beats the alternative.
And just what is age 60 supposed to resemble?
Back in September – shortly after reaching this age milestone – I was taking a Peloton® class when instructor Kendall Toole reacted to a member’s screen name declaring “sixty is young AF.” If you are not sure what AF stands for, ask a younger relative, friend, or colleague.
Having made that announcement, Kendall is now my favorite instructor. Obviously, her declaration resonated with me. Before each spin class, I immediately swipe away the leaderboard so not to be reminded that, with each passing year, I have fallen into its lower depths. While I feel no need to compete with anyone other than myself, I recognize my ability to keep pace with many considerably younger members. Indeed, my ranking hasn’t mattered since high school. What does matter is that I’m doing what I can to keep as physically fit as possible. Studies reflect a direct correlation between the lack of exercise and onset of cognitive impairment.
Obviously, many factors and variables contribute to healthful and successful aging, including maintaining a positive mindset and engaging in stimulating and challenging activities. These are commonalities shared by my clients who refuse to dwell on their chronological age. And when challenges arise, they meet them with a certain degree of defiance and gusto.
During that same class, Kendall also commented about how great Cher looks in her 70s, questioning (tongue in cheek) whether she is a vampire. While recognizing that many people reaching later decades do not necessarily behave “old,” there is always a corresponding inference that appearances fade with age. I’m reminded of that daily as I pass a mirror or view myself on Zoom. Seriously, there is widespread belief, fostered by the media and advertising industries, that older people are not necessarily attractive. We can eliminate many Hollywood A-Listers from this category, as well as those who elect to have aesthetic and plastic surgical procedures. However, I applaud certain ambassadors for authentic aging, such as Jamie Lee Curtis, who committed herself to aging naturally and gracefully.
As my age advances, I am dedicated to thinking, acting, and feeling young, while continuing to appear older. I have neither the inclination nor time to reduce fine lines and deep wrinkles. I am proud of every one of them; I have earned them all. I am young AF.