40 Is Not the New 30 – An Open Letter to Society

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“You have grey hair mom, I don’t want you to get old!” Those were the words of my daughter the other day. I laughed and kissed her and asked her: And what’s wrong about being old?. She didn’t have an answer at that moment, but this triggered a lot of thinking and ruminating over the topic of age. And a lot of anger. The stigma against aging needs to stop. So, here’s my thoughts on being 40 and aging in general:

Dear Society,

Turning 20, 30, 40, 50 or any other age is a personal thing, and it is not a milestone. It is just a number. Our personal milestones are way more random and different and are not necessarily connected to a certain age.

Yes there are stages in life that most of us go through during a certain decade of our lives, but this is by no means a path that we all need to take, it is just statistics. Therefore saying that 30 is the new 20, or anything similar, actually means NOTHING to a large number of people who turn 30.

I am tired of being pushed to stay young, to run away from aging. Yes, youth has its appeal, but it also has its own hell. I don’t want to spend the most mature, fruitful and self-confident years of my life wishing that I was 30 instead of 40, striving to look and act younger. Because it is great to finally arrive to yourself and be at peace with yourself. It is an empowering state of mind, from which my children will surely benefit more than from me spending my time and energy pretending to be younger than I am.

“You don’t look 40” is NOT a compliment, because it means that looking forty years old is bad. Why would it be bad? Yes, it is nice to look younger than you are, it means that you have been taking good care of yourself or are simply genetically lucky, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with looking exactly your age.

There is nothing wrong with aging. In fact, we now live longer than any other generation, and better than any other generation. So, why are we not appreciating that?

Ana

Photo Credit: Greg Balzer

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