The Business of Aging

I hate my birthday, never liked it. I mean, I am grateful to be celebrating each birthday as it comes but other than that, I hate my birthdays. When I was younger it was more so because I disliked the spotlight. I feel very uncomfortable being the centre of attention so most of the times if we had to celebrate my birthday, I always opted for a quiet dinner with a small group of friends. But even that was sometimes too much pressure for me because I never wanted to be the reason why people didn’t have a good time. The idea that I might be troubling people to do things for my sake (make their way to a restaurant, feel the need to buy a gift, etc) added to that pressure. I also didn’t want people to look at me because I felt if they looked long enough, they’d find something wrong with me; they’d see through the façade of my silly jokes and blunt humour. Maybe they’d eventually see a flawed human, an imperfect person, and to me, that was nerve-wracking.

Now, as I am steadily approaching my scary age (40), I have a bunch of new fears. Most of them have to do with losing the most wonderful things I’ve acquired thus far: my husband, my daughter, and the life we’ve built with our dear family and friends. crossed armsThe other thing I fear is something I’ve rejected all my life (almost childishly sometimes) and that is the idea of change. I’m someone who relishes in the routine and the ordinary. I really don’t like change. Change knocks me off balance, it requires me to recalibrate all the things I’ve already made peace with, and it takes me out of my comfort zone. And of course, with age comes the certainty of inevitable change. 

All the above sounds very negative, and indeed it is. But I don’t think I’m unique in my pessimistic thinking here. Perhaps this problematic idea of aging is cyclically embedded in a lot of us- designed to signify something bad. Think of aging as a business and its target audience are women over the age of 30. There is a whole industry marketed towards middle-aged women “chasing their youth” as if it is fleeting and if given the opportunity, could somehow be recaptured. Yes, with the right product you might be able who wants to look youngto somehow turn back the cruel hands of time: you could smooth out those laugh lines, blend in those undereye circles, and outgrow those silver threads in your hair. They might even have you believe that the fountain of youth is at risk of being perilously lost forever unless you buy in: the products, the philosophy, the farce. So, why all the hoopla? Well, it could only equate to one narrative: the older you are, the less you matter. Unfortunately, I think we live in a society that only values a certain age group. As a woman, if you are too young your voice is considered inexperienced and weak but if you are too old, your voice is no longer relevant. Perhaps this is consumerism at its cleverest: leveraging our emotional upheavals to sell night creams that have spectacular claims of “everlasting youthfulness.” 

What’s my takeaway from all this? I’m trying to do better for myself and my daughter. I want to be proud of my age and be able to embrace change. I want my inner voice to be far louder than the outside chatter around me. I am recognizing that everything around us influences how we feel and what we do with that information is what really makes a difference. Do we absorb it as truth, question our self-worth, and feel bad about our blemishes? Or do we actively reject the notion that aging is an unnatural process that should somehow be reversed, and instead reevaluate society and its toxic messaging?

“When women are trained into thinking there is something fundamentally wrong with getting older, and are coerced into spending money, energy and power investing in ‘slowing the signs of ageing’, an enormous vault of divine love is lost.”

-Yogesh Kumar (Author)

Well, this year I want to be different. I choose to accept my birthday because I want to be seen, I want to be heard, I want to be relevant, and I want to matter. It’s important for my daughter to see that I (a woman) matter in this world because that ultimately means that she does too.

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43 thoughts on “The Business of Aging

  1. 40? 40? Getting old? You gotta be kidding me. There’s so much to discuss in your story and maybe I’ll continue later. But for now, enjoy your birthday. Celebrating a birthday, either quietly or with friends (who don’t consider it a burden to focus on you for a few hours, it pleasures them to do it) because birthdays were meant to put you in the limelight. I’ll find my story about birthdays which tells you all you need to know. C’mon, go out and have some fun because the next day, no one will give two hoots and they’ll be focusing on someone else.

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  2. Happy birthday? Not sure if it’s today. But for whenever it is – wishing you a day filled with people and food you love. ❤️
    I so get you – I turned 30 last year – a fact that I’ve been trying hard to forget. I was a WRECK last year. I had to get super drunk to get through the day. 🙈
    Society in general makes women feel like carton milk – we turn sour after a certain best before date. 😓
    I hope we can be the change makers – living our best lives through our 30s,40s,50s,60s and more. To growing older, wiser and hotter! 😉❤️

    Happy birthday!

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  3. I’m an older gen-xer trying to compete in a job market full of millennials, and I’m definitely feeling irrelevant. It also doesn’t help that I live in a community that has as many plastic surgeons as Starbucks! But hey, I’m taking this as an opportunity to create a new chapter in my life. Shifting gears from marketing to the medical profession. People seem to value old and experienced people in medicine! 😆

    What I’ve learned about aging is that there really isn’t much difference between 20 and 40, because at the end of it all, it’s about finding where you fit in. Just stay true to who you are! 😊

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    • That’s amazing Deb- changing the direction your life path was traveling on takes so much courage I think (this is very inspiring as I’ve fantasized about starting over sometimes in some realms of my life)! So true about 20s and 40s being quite the same, I don’t feel all that close to 40 (I funnily always forget how old I am bc the spirit does not match the exterior), I guess that’s not always a bad thing (being young at heart)! 🙂 Thanks for reading! 🙂

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  4. Oh my!! Don’t fret!! I’ll be turning 44 in May. When I turned forty, my dad flamingoed me. (If your husband does that for you, he’ll be forever in my favor.) Forty’s a great age!! It’s like, I’m wise and sage but not old yet.

    You’re so right about society’s fascination and dark obsession with age!! Good points!

    My little sister, from whom I’m estranged (she’s violent), is terrified of aging. She’s eight years younger than I am. Back when she and I were getting along, she’d tell me how scared of aging she was, and I’d direct her attention to the brown spots on my face, and she’d have a massive freak-out. Ahh, sisterhood…

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  5. Happy birthday!! Gosh, your first paragraph really hit home for me… I’ve also always hated birthdays, being the center of attention, and feeling responsibility for others having a good time. I love and am so inspired by your change of perspective. It’s what’s inside that matter, it really is. Growing up, my best friend’s mother was obsessed with dieting, anti-aging creams, and generally trying to remain physically youthful… and that friend went on to also become obsessed with looks and her life revolves around being liked by others. As a kid, I was often embarrassed by my mom, but she was true to herself and comfortable in skin at every age and with every imperfection. The people who truly care about you will love every wrinkle and white hair if you just keep up the silly jokes and blunt humor. ❤

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    • Haha thanks! Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who appreciates my humour but then I get wonderful compliments from everyone in this awesome community and it just reminds me to keep being myself! Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment! 🙂

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  6. A thought-provoking piece, BB. My grandmother used to guard her age for the longest time. Even my mom didn’t know how old her own mother was. Then when she hit a certain age (I’m guessing around 85), she suddenly started telling people—even those she didn’t know. It became a pride thing.

    I believe that age comes down to perception—not how others see us, but how we see ourselves. There are days when I feel all of my 62 years. My arthritic back reminds me each day. At the same time, I have friends who seem like a young 60 or an old 50. I’m going with the former. I never want to become one of those people who you ask, “How are you?” and they proceed to talk about every ailment they’ve ever had. I retired because I needed to start looking after myself. When I didn’t feel like going to the gym, what often got me past that mental hurdle was thinking, “I don’t want to be one of those couch potato grandparents that can’t do anything with his grandchild.”

    Covid has gotten in the way a little bit, but I started knocking off some of those things on my Bucket List. As one of my good friends and I have talked about, the hourglass has turned, and we can’t waste time worrying about what others think of us. Do what makes you happy, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

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    • This is such a thoughtful comment as always, Pete! I admire everyone who lives their lives to the fullest and you certainly seem to do so. It’s important to make all the days of our lives count, and even if we do nothing some days, at least giving ourselves a break once in a while and knowing how to love ourselves a little more will make a difference! You still have dreams you’re chasing everyday and that is so inspiring to see! 🙂

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  7. You look incredibly young. I thought you were in your 20’s (learning closer to early 20’s). Being grateful for what we have helps keep me grounded. I’m grateful to have a husband and daughter as well, which are things I never thought I would be able to manifest in my life!

    Tbh I don’t really celebrate my birthday. I will be 30 this year and that number makes me cringe 😕 I feel like I “need” to celebrate his milestone but then I think, why? If I never really celebrated my birthday before, why start now? It’s just another day 😅

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  8. Well I just go gaga even by the thought of my birthday but I have a fear of ageing !!! Ironical right😊😊😊
    But I liked how you are trying to be a great example for your daughter❤❤❤ and you already are❤❤

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  9. Happy birthday you youngster you!! I always loved birthdays but as I read your blog I think that actually maybe I was the same as you and never did but felt I should?? Makes me think a bit. Good on you for showing your daughter what us women should be!!!

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  10. I love my birthday and love change even though it’s hard to deal with in life. So I guess we’re kind of opposites, but yet, I hear that hope in your post for embracing change and your birthday! I’m here if you ever want to chat…
    Love your blog by the way! I saw you on Pepper Valentine’s and just popped over to say hello!

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  11. I had no idea you were turning 40, the thought of your age never crossed my mind. So as a 29 year-old still reading and loving your content, believe me when I say age is nothing but a number. You are getting older – we all are – and that’s the beauty of life. Nothing lasts forever but we need to spend more time appreciating and enjoying the blessings we have as opposed to fearing losing them. I’m actually just like you in fearing the loss… I often imagine life at 80 and wondering if I’ll be a widow… let that sink in. So it’s this kind of thing that we need to stop thinking about and actually start enjoying life more! 💖💖💖

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  12. Okay. Pete was scarily right that we’re similar. Is March 24 your birthday? Mine’s the 23rd! And I think I could have written this post (if you change the more-mature observations, since I’m clearly not accepting things as well as you yet…).
    A bit scary, really. 😀

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