When You Feel 25 When You’re, Um, Not

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It occurred to me over the weekend that I am nearer my next birthday than my last.

I will be 48 in February.

And that is shocking to me.

Around this time of year, I start telling myself I am already my next birthday age as a way of preparing myself for the inevitable.

But 48?!!!

That’s nearly 50 and that is such a seismic, monumental mental leap for me, I’ve decided to cut out the next two years and skip straight to telling myself I’ve been on this planet for half a century.

And just deal with it.

I figure that way by the time my 50th finally rolls around I’ll have got used to the idea.

I came to this realization (that I am nearly 48 50) because I was noticing how young everyone is.

I kept wondering why they looked so young. Then hit it me.

They were young.

When you’re 47, going on 48 50, just about everyone is younger than you.

There are more people younger than you than older than you.

And a lot of those older than you are indoors!

You are surrounded by people mostly significantly younger.

It has been quite a traumatic weekend realizing this.

How did I get so old?

I remember when I was the youngest. I always seemed to be the youngest to do new things.

My poor parents had the child who always broke through boundaries.

Later, whatever it was would become ordinary. Normal. Old hat. In a few years all my parents’ friend’s would be dealing with the same issues.

But I was always the first. And my parents had to have their ideas rather brutally, if I’m honest, um, expanded.

They were reluctant pioneers.

They would have been very happy to swap blazing trails for a cozy warm fire but I was having none of it.

I like to think I was simply ahead of my time.  🙂

But now I find myself among the oldest in my peer group.

And the thing is.

I still feel like I’m twenty-five.

I have the same energy, the same combination of ditzyness and logic, the same hopes and fears.

I still feel uncertain, have questions, I haven’t reached a place of unshakeable confidence.

I still laugh at the same things I did two decades ago.

And I still have dreams and plans I haven’t yet put into practice.

I can remember being twenty-five like it was yesterday.

And in my mind I’m still there.

I understand this feeling of inner youth and outer age is common.

I have an older, wiser woman in my life to whom I go for advice, perspective.

She tells me, even though she is nearly 70, it is the same for her. Stuck in a mental timewarp.

Still feels like a girl.

I have often looked to someone to give me guidance, help, wisdom when I’m feeling lost.

Only to realize I have vastly more life experience than they do and really the transaction should be the other way around.

That’s why I love the older women in my life – twenty or more years older – who can help me when my 25 year-old inner self feels in need of some comfort or advice.

Sometimes our mothers can fill those roles, but often they can’t and we need to look further afield.

Having a groundedness based on years of experience, reflection and learning, these women can be a vast, deep vat of wisdom that we would do well to listen to.

For hours.

There have been years of my life when my older women friends have not been available to me. When I moved to the US, it took over a decade to find someone to step into the role that had been vacated on my move.

During that time, without a compass, I did my best and I did OK but I looked forward to those times when I could ask those deep questions about what is really important in life from the perspective of someone who has a generation on me.

I guess as I am nearly 48 50, it will soon be my turn to undertake that role.

Yikes.

I could probably do it now – to someone who really was twenty-five. On the inside and the outside.

I wonder though if she’d realize that secretly I consider her my peer.

And that I still find it shocking there are people in seriously important and powerful positions.

Who were born in the ‘70’s.

Do you have an older woman in your life? One who you can turn to for advice and perspective? Where has she come from to land in your life and what advice would you give to someone looking for their own female mentor?

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Dot Maley November 8, 2011 at 11:19 am

When I was a young, Jim’s Mom said, “I hope you never have to get old. You know I feel much younger inside, but when I pass the mirror, I wonder who that old lady is. I don’t recognize her at all.” At the time I didn’t think too much about it, but through the years I always remembered those words and have felt the same way. Funny what sticks with you. Would I go back… No. Some of the struggles I would not like to repeat, but I guess they made me who I am today. See you Thanksgiving, oh, and at the play too.

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Alison Golden November 8, 2011 at 11:25 am

LOL! Although I’m not so keen on the alternative to getting old…I often wonder if I’d like to go back. I think I would. I’ve had a pretty good life thus far and I wouldn’t mind doing it all again. I think I’d make it even more colorful. See you soon!

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Lauren November 8, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I am starting to think in life phases rather than ages. This started when my mom and my aunt began passing those big birthdays and I would think, wait, that’s what 50/60/65 looks like? At almost 70 that same aunt was caught off guard when a medical tech said something about XYZ being common in “older people”, meaning her, because she’s still mentally in the “middle age” category.
In the last few years I’ve started to notice that I KNOW stuff. Random, useful, bizarre, technical, whatever, but there’s a lot of it stuffed up there. Two things: I’m still clueless about 99.99% of life, the universe and everything, and I know it better now than I did when I knew less (see A Little Learning by Pope). A mentor would be a gracious gift, but I have not ever had one.
Inside my head I don’t have an age, just a curiosity and passion. But my hands on the keyboard are starting to give me away, and the crow’s feet are more than tanned in. I’m officially on the bottom end of that wide “middle age” phase, which I notice most when I think ‘good Lord, how could she go out of the house wearing THAT!?’.

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Alison Golden November 8, 2011 at 4:23 pm

I’ve noticed that too, Lauren. I know stuff. I was a bit slow to admit it or even see it but I realize I’ve built up a critical mass of knowledge and experience. I tend to automatically think other people know more than me (and sometimes they do because I’m usually looking for an answer when I come across them) but I’ve learned and still learning that at my age, I have amassed a significant databank of life to mine from.

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Beth
Twitter:
November 8, 2011 at 2:51 pm

I have been working at a school for retirees for almost two years, so on a daily basis I am surrounded by folks who are older than me. They are also wonderful mentors, friends, and inspiration. It’s because of them that I now view aging in a different light. Most of the retirees I encounter are avid learners and many of them are trying things that they didn’t have or the time or resources for when they were younger. I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to work where I do. I look ahead to other seasons of my life with happy anticipation because of this experience.
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Alison Golden November 8, 2011 at 4:21 pm

I think that is a great experience to have Beth, to see that there is an expanding life to be had in our older years. I know older women who have achieved great things in their later years. I agree with you, I think you are truly fortunate to have this experience.

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Lori
Twitter:
November 8, 2011 at 7:03 pm

I still feel 25 too! I still think of myself as “college-age” which I (quite obviously) am no longer. My children are allowed to grow older but I am not. I’m not that far out of the “hip,” “cool,” or “with-it” loop…am I????? I often wonder now if I am one of those moms trying to act young, and should I be embarrassed…?
And then the most crushing insult – my doctors are younger than me. I’m pushing 40, and I keep wondering, “When the HELL did this happen?!” and, “Why is Junior here taking my blood pressure?”
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Alison Golden November 8, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Well, I *know* I am one of those moms who are trying to act young, but hey-ho, it could be worse. And yeah, the younger doctor, gynaecologist no less, that’s hard to take. 😉

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Lauren November 9, 2011 at 4:22 am

“Junior here” LMAO!

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Le'Ann November 9, 2011 at 5:55 am

It’s nice to know that there are others that feel exactly the way I do! I, too, will be 48 in February. Most of the time I feel awkward around people who are my age… like when I attended my first formal dinner and didn’t know which fork to use.
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Alison Golden November 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Ah yes, those formal dinners and that cutlery. Been the downfall of many a 48 year old, I can assure you. 🙂

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Linda
Twitter:
November 9, 2011 at 7:10 am

I love this post!

You know you’re getting old when…

~Your youngest friend is 38
~You doctor looks like she just graduated from college
~Your social work interns look at you oddly (but politely) when you joke that a couple said your son looks like a young version of Cassius Clay

Oh, I could go on and on…

Happy early Forever 25, Alison!
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Alison Golden November 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Teachers, that’s what gets me. They are so young. They have their whole lives ahead of them! Oh, and men you’d like to date if you were single…and at least 15 years younger. 😉

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Mary E. Ulrich
Twitter:
November 12, 2011 at 4:29 am

Alison, you are young! It is all perspective.

If there is a “place of unshakeable confidence” I want the address. One of the dilemmas of getting older is we learn how much we don’t know and that shakes everyone’s confidence. There are so many POVs and everyone thinks their view is the right one.

Of course, you “know stuff” that’s why you’re a life coach. You have many valuable lessons based on experiences–good and bad.

I think your strongest defense against aging is to keep learning and surround yourself with interesting people (all ages). Your kids will keep you on your toes, but as you mention, mentors and older friends help keep you grounded.

When is your birthday?
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Alison Golden December 2, 2011 at 1:36 pm

My birthday is end of February, Mary. Always a sucky time of year I find. Especially in England when *everyone* is gagging for some decent weather, sunshine and some warmth. 😉

I totally agree with you about learning and interesting people. The key to aging backwards, I find.

And:
“Your kids will keep you on your toes, but as you mention, mentors and older friends help keep you grounded.”
– Nice sentence. 🙂

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Jenifer Medly November 14, 2011 at 8:52 am

I agree with you, I think you are truly fortunate to have this experience. This is very great post, keep up good work.
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Zen November 14, 2011 at 3:09 pm

In my opinion in USA and Western Europe (where I come from) there is a craziness with being young, really young, look like a teenager. Even 50 something people want to be treated like kids and tv shows like “sex and the city” reflect just like that.
I had it too for some years until someone told me “that in the rest of the world real kids are never treated as they should, actually they are adults since the age of 4. So get a grip of yourself and act like a serious and very lucky person”.

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Barbara November 15, 2011 at 3:26 am

I am bounded by those who are elder than me. They are also great mentors, associates, and inspiration. Through them now I view aging in a different brightness.
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Tamra paperhope.com
Twitter:
November 20, 2011 at 10:42 pm

This is such an important topic! Thank you for writing about it! Not only do I feel the same way about my own age at 41 I still feel like a girl, I also feel so strongly that we need to be mentoring other women and girls. There is much to learn from our elders. I hope to teach my daughters to respect and cherish the knowledge their elders have. Great post! Much love and respect! Tamra
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Alison Golden November 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Tamra, that split between wanting/believing in mentoring and still feeling like we’re the ones needing the mentoring is a tough one, isn’t it? It’s only been the last few years that I’ve felt I’ve amassed a decent amount of life experience that I have something to offer, but in truth I can see that I’ve been doing it for years. 🙂

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ava21smith November 21, 2011 at 4:25 am

Always smiling keeps you two days younger, be happy and healthy. Mingle with good people at all ages.
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Adrian November 22, 2011 at 7:24 am

be happy and healthy. Mingle with good people at all ages.Thanks a lot for sharing such a very important topic..
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RachelAng34 November 23, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I totally agree with you, I think you are truly lucky to have this kind of experience. Thanks for this great thoughts.
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Kaz November 25, 2011 at 2:23 am

age is just a number 😉 be happy always and feel young at heart.
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shannon November 25, 2011 at 9:57 am

I’m 40. I returned to college to finish up my undergraduate degree about 8 years ago. I kept wondering if everyone knew my secret or did they think I was one of them? But it hit me when a handsome young man walked into the classroom and sat down in the row in front of me. I noticed he was cute, then immediately wondered if he had a good relationship with his mother. (really I was wondering if my handsome son will have a good relationship with me when he is in college…) No, I wasn’t their peers… Now I’m 40 and with four children but I still wonder will I ever feel really grown up? I’m still figuring things out.

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Marcella November 28, 2011 at 6:44 am

It is not the years in your life, but the life in your years that
counts =)
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Elijah November 28, 2011 at 8:12 am

I think it’s perfectly acceptable for a man to date an older woman. In fact, I’m living proof. My semi-long, committed relationship is with a woman seven years older than I am. We are both in our thirties. To us, it doesn’t matter that we are not the same age. Truthfully, I don’t believe it ever should regardless of who’s older or younger. We enjoy each others’ company, share our deepest and most intimate feelings, desires and aspirations. Age hardly every comes into discussion as we honestly don’t see each other as older or younger most of the time.

Relationships are built on trust and communication. Age can play a factor initially as we tend to find ourselves attracted to people with similar interests and goals in life. Once the initial attraction phase is past though, it becomes about building trust and maintaining healthy communication. These are the keystones of every relationship, romantic or not.
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olivia34newton November 30, 2011 at 9:23 am

Well for 25 or older than 25 is not important, because age is just a number and being young is an attitude.
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Dayna Nickle December 3, 2011 at 10:11 am

If there is a “place of unshakeable confidence” I want the address. One of the dilemmas of getting older is we learn how much we don’t know and that shakes everyone’s confidence. There are so many POVs and everyone thinks their view is the right one.
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Jewel December 4, 2011 at 8:58 pm

“You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.” 😉
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Ethel December 12, 2011 at 2:32 am

Feeling young and old at the same time is the present. 🙂
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Mark Steward December 12, 2011 at 7:39 am

I feel much younger inside, but when I pass the mirror, I wonder who that old lady is. I don’t recognize her at all.” At the time I didn’t think too much about it, but through the years I always remembered those words and have felt the same way. Funny what sticks with you.
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Carole in the UK January 10, 2012 at 3:12 am

Wow!
This post is so timely as the majority of the comments have stated, what I have been feeling over the last six months. I am so glad I have found a great place to ‘hang out’. I still feel young on the inside, despite the contrary evidence of the outside.

However, I thank God that I can now be the real me.
Absolutely thought provoking post, Alison.
Thank you for joining my conversatiion over at Blogfrog.
Blessings to you
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Alison Golden January 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Hi Carole:

Glad you found it reassuring. We’ll ‘hang out’ together. 🙂
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Sheila January 12, 2012 at 7:14 pm

If your feeling old and young is the same..Thank you for sharing this to us..
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