I often hear people contest that age is nothing but a number. Two weeks ago I celebrated my 27th year on this incorrigible planet. Of course up until now, I too shared the same sentiments. But as I grow older, and hopefully wiser, it dawned on me that such sentiments might not be entirely true.
Age is everything, other than the number it denotes. With age comes maturity, of course to take up that offer is entirely up to the individual. I am all for choice and I believe maturity is something you either partake in or refute.
The ageing process is a progression towards a fully fledged maturation status. Age is more than the wrinkles on our face, the slight dip in our posture. The slowness in our talk, the u-turn our cognitive abilities take. It is about fulfilment- fulfilling the ageing process which we are destined towards from conception. Some of us will graduate from this life with having passed the various stages of the ageing process, some of us won’t. Some of us will have it all figured out and pass through the ageing process with flying colours, some of us will crumble, some won’t have a clue. That is life, there are no guarantees that you will, but nonetheless we still take part.
Society will no doubt give us pointers on how to best overcome each stage of the ageing process; from cosmetics to diets to technological advancement that help us predict the future so we can endure this ageing processes longer and with no defects or ailments. But nature will always have the last laugh and fate will almost certainly deliver the last punch!
Society will also dictate how to best behave in each segment of the process:
– The Child: Seen but unheard.
– The Teenager: Rowdy and in need of direction.
– The Twenty Something: Yet to figure out life, but society can’t afford to have you clueless for long. So you are lured into further education, training and the likes.
– The Thirty Something: Established, your career is flourishing with your significant other and your nuclear family intact. A house with a good sized garden in your name and your two cars parched parallel to one another on your front parking space.
Society will allow you one hiccup though; one opting out clause and that is in your Forties; on the basis that once you have had that you opt back into the ageing structure.
– The Forty Something: Start operation – mid life crisis. Your perfect marriage and career is in tatters. Your forty something self is not that dissimilar to the Twenty something you; only in your forties you have a little more responsibilities than you did then. Isn’t that why they say “forty is the new twenty”?!
– Enter your Fifties: You are contributing to the structure again … Alas you are deemed responsible!
– Sixties: You have earned your stripes; society dictates that you don’t require as much close circuit attention as you did in your yester years. You are now on course on to heralding your senior citizenry status.
– Seventies, Eighties and Beyond: You are now nothing but a burden on society, so you are slowly but surely shunned out. To the point of no return!
Birthdays thus serve as a reminder, a check point if you like. Each year on our birthdays we review, look back and check where we got to on the ageing process, are we flagging behind or are we on par with this structure?! Then we start to panic, stress and self doubt. I start asking myself fundamental questions such as where am I going with my life? Though having such conversations at 3:00am with myself, often means that those questions remain strictly rhetorical.
My six years old nephew asked me on my birthday “what do you want to be when you are older“? With a slight befuddlement at his question, I replied “I am already old” to which he replied “no no, I mean when you are thirty”!
I suppose I will leave answers to such potent questions for when I am in my thirties, for thirties are when life changing decisions are made. For now I shall enjoy whatever is left of my twenties- cluelessly cheery.
If nothing at all, the ageing process has taught me that the ability to progress; to succeed, to live will be in my own terms, at my own pace, a one woman race!
N.B This post was intended to be a humorous reflection on birthdays. Somewhere between starting the post and ending it, things took an unexpected philosophical turn!