I was interested to read recently of a Dutchman, Emile Ratelband, going to court to legally change his age. Although many consider it a publicity stunt from a man known for his attention-grabbing exploits, Emile argues that he is seeking to avoid the discrimination he feels comes with being 69. So he is aiming to knock 20 years off. Nice one!
There is no doubt that we live in a society that is ageist in lots of ways but it is changing. There are many examples of women pushing the boundaries and achieving great things in the second half of their lives. Traditional, age-related expectations around the way we dress, how long we work, how we spend our leisure time are being challenged. When I started my career in buying, elastic waist polyester trousers were a ‘must-have’ once you hit 60. No more thank goodness!
In my work with women, it’s fair to say that I hear ‘I can’t’ much more often than ‘I can’ and often the reason for this is age. It seems that we have been conditioned to believe that, on reaching a certain age, our bodies (and minds) lose the ability to do what they used to. Yet, I come across examples on a daily basis that prove exactly the opposite.
I see women like Jenny, this month’s phenomenal woman, conquering the biggest physical and mental challenge of her life to date, and women who, with the right training and commitment, can become stronger and fitter than they have ever been. A full plank at 70? Perfectly possible. A 10k run when you have never run in your life before?Absolutely. If the will is there then there’s a good chance you can make it happen. Age need not play a part.
It’s important too, to remember that we all have a choice. We can accept our age and let it define who we are, or, like Emile, we can decide what age we would like to be and act accordingly. Playing the ‘age card’ can be one of the many sneaky ways that the brain justifies, in a very rational and convincing way, maintaining the status quo ie doing nothing. It is easy to fall into the trap without even realising it. Worse still, if age-limiting messages are continually sent to the brain then it will behave as such. Meaning that you end up restricting your abilities, limiting your potential and compromising your quality of life when there is no good reason to do so.
So whatever the verdict is for Emile, and whether it’s written in law or not, we can all fight against the notion of what is ‘age-appropriate’ and refuse to give in to society’s expectations. Age is just a number, it is not a blueprint as to how we should be living our life.
As we head into 2019, my hope is that we can all throw off the shackles, step out of the comfort zone and live every minute in the most exciting, non age-related way.
What do you think?