When people asked why I stopped blogging, I answered as truthfully as I could, “I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore.”
That was partially true. It just wasn’t the whole story.
What I didn’t realize at the time, was that my decision to hang up my blogging shoes coincided with my approaching sixtieth birthday. If you ever needed a reminder that time is in short supply and you shouldn’t be wasting it doing things you don’t love to do, try filling out some online form that demands your age.
As you scan the drop-down menu of possible age selections, you realize that once you get past your current age cohort, there are just not that many more choices.
Turning sixty means you can no longer pretend you are middle-aged. 60 is not in the middle of anything. With few exceptions, 60 is way over the speed limit.
When you turn 60, you are old. But, knowing it, and saying it are two different things. At this point in my life, it doesn’t feel natural to say, “I’m old.”
When I say it, it feels like I’m wearing shoes that are two sizes too big – you wobble a bit, are unsure of how to maneuver, and know you can’t move as fast as you want to or you’ll end up tripping and falling. Don’t get me started on the fear of falling.
It’s hard to say, “I’m old.” It sounds like you are admitting defeat. But defeat of what? Life?
Does old automatically mean that you’re not as strong? Not as sharp? Not as sexy? Not as relevant? That you are on your way out, Sistah?
Does old mean you really shouldn’t wear those leggings with a sundress? When you are old, should you cut your hair and stop wearing a ponytail?
If you are old, will you look as comical as a three- year old prancing around in her mother’s shoes, if you put on a pair of stilettos?
Tell someone you’re old and you automatically make them uncomfortable. What are they supposed to do with that information?
Typically they either assure you that you are not old or they say with enormous sincerity, “You don’t look a day over 55!”
Recently, I was having dinner with some colleagues and someone asked me about the blog. I explained that it was about figuring out how to be old in a society where old is a four letter word. It’s just not as much fun to say as most four letter words.
Right on cue one of my dinner companions, immediately said, “Elana, you’re not old!”
However, as the shoe clerk said as I was trying on a size 12 when my normal size runs 10 1/2 to 11 – “What does the number matter, the size of your foot is still the size of your foot.”
Maybe I don’t look it. Maybe I don’t feel it. Maybe I don’t act it. But 63 is 63.
Accepting the fact that you are old requires a certain mental gymnastics. After spending a lifetime focused on continuous improvement professionally, physically and emotionally, being old means shifting to a mental model of minimizing loss and at best maintaining.
Frankly, I find this mental shift extremely challenging. I’m not sure I know how to be old, much less think old.
I don’t want to pretend to be something I am not. I know I’m not 45. I’m 63. – I’m just not sure it means to be 63.
I suspect many of you are struggling with same issues.
That’s what Stilettos@60 is all about. Tearing down stereotypes. Exploring, sharing and learning what it means to be old in 2014.
As for those stilettos, that’s a story for another time.
“It’s not what you’d call a high-end clothing store, and Pamela Forster, who at one time was Cynthia’s best friend in high school, was not aiming for a young, hip clientele. The racks were filled with fairly conservative apparel, the kind of clothes, I liked to joke with Cynthia, preferred by women who wear sensible shoes.”