My brother asked how I was the other morning, and I replied with one of my stock phrases: ‘Not bad for an old chook’. He said: ‘Don’t say that. People will think you are old’. ‘But I am old’ I replied.
But am I really old. Is ‘old’ really my descriptor? I hear quite a bit of talk about ’60 being the new 40’, ‘pushing the tide back’, ‘age is just a number’. I find it all a bit irritating. I have already done forty. What’s so wrong about being in one’s sixties? Why aren't we proud of approaching our sixties or, in my case, being well into them. Why do we try to hide our age, are almost ashamed of it.
Part of the reason is that we just don’t feel like what we thought ‘old’ would be. Some of us are having the time of our lives. This surely can’t be ‘old’. I don’t want to deny my age. I want to be proud that I have made it this far—that I have a bit of experience under my belt, that I can roll with the punches, that I have a bit more confidence, that I am breaking out of my glass box.
Perhaps these years of transition into the older years need better branding. Think of teenagers. It is a descriptor that was unknown until about the 1920s. The First World War and its aftermath brought huge changes in society. People were no longer so insular; education and new opportunities emerged for young people. A gap appeared between childhood and adulthood—a transitioning period: a period which is regarded as both fraught and exhilarating, a period when people sigh indulgently and say ‘They are just teenagers’. We give teenagers a bit of leeway. We expect them to have fun.
Recently, this whole transitioning period has been extended to the under thirties—the teens and twixters. Thirty to sixty are the grownup years before—before, old? NO. We need a transitioning period, something with a hip name that is well—cool. A name that evokes the celebration of having made it this far, and easing into old boldly. A name that our kids (now entering the seriously grownup stage) will shake their heads and, with a tired smile, say: ‘ Oh they are just being typical “… “ [sigh]. They are never home; always off having fun with their mates; taking on new projects; spending their money on tripping around. It will be a relief when they settle into being proper olds’.
We are on the downward slope. We know that. We know that death is at the end. But we aren’t quite into all that venerable elder stuff—yet. We need to transition. We need our own equivalent to teenager/twixter. But what to call us. We who are no longer young but yet not old. Any ideas?
There is already the word sexagenarian to describe someone in their sixties. It’s a bit of a mouthful—though it does have those magic ‘sex’ words. Mmmmm ‘sex’, now that’s a topic for a blog or three. Another time.
Trying to understand these transitioning years is what got Naz and I started on BOLDmag. And I am delighted that you have taken the time to read this. Thank you.
And if you do have a trendy name for us not-quite-oldsters, please tell!
Have a BOLD week!