I’m thrilled to be turning 60. I’m guessing you don’t believe me. I’m guessing you’re making a face and fretting about how old you are. But honestly, I’m so happy.
So many of my friends moan about “turning the big one;” they sidestep discussions about their age. No one wants to be “the big 6-0.”
Not me. I’m embracing it with both arms.
People shun the progression of time as if we can do anything about it. My 94 year old mother-in-law often says to me, “Whatever you do, don’t get old…” I know it’s meant as a joke, but is she telling me to die now? I don’t want to die now.
When do we stop looking forward to getting older and regret each inevitable year? Is it after 21? After you reach that drinking milestone do you immediately want to freeze time? Are we only happy to be our age for the first ¼ of our lives?
I remember myself in my 20s; I was neither happy nor content. I was continually self-conscious. My 30s were full of angst. My 40s? Self doubt. My 50s were when I finally started to know myself and come into my own. I now look forward to my 60s being full of grounded discoveries and a dedication to lifetime goals. I am going to follow my parents’ example and look forward to my 70s and 80s as times of exploration and learning from new challenges.
Now that I’m a woman with grey hair, I find I have a power I never had before; people pay more attention to my opinion than they did when I was younger. Since I’ve stopped dyeing my hair, I’ve broken up arguments, stopped stupid behavior, and found that I can stand up to bullies. I think there should be a superhero character, “The Gray One, able to interrupt blowhards with the tone of her voice!”
For perspective, I had very close friends who died early. They were, in fact, frozen in time, frozen in their 30s, they didn’t grow old. True, they won’t have to worry about arthritis, bald spots, and wrinkles, but that’s because they are dead. I think they would trade turning 60 for being dead.
And you know what? Modern science has worked very hard to get me to this age. When I was born, I was small and needed to be placed in an incubator – who knows what my early development would have been like if I hadn’t been kept warm after birth? I was a sickly toddler who caught everything including a serious case of influenza followed by whooping cough. I was so sick that the doctors told my parents “to make plans.” Antibiotics made it possible for me to keep adding candles to my birthday cake. In my adult years, I had a miscarriage which required a D and C to complete. If that hadn’t been available to me, it’s possible an infection could have ended my life. When I did have a baby, she was breech and I had to have a C Section. In another time, both I and my daughter might not have survived her birth. In my 50s I was diagnosed with follicular Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Only a handful of years ago this would have meant a shorter lifespan, but now there are these amazing immunotherapy drugs that mean I’ll probably not only have a normal lifespan, I might never need to lose my hair during treatment. I’m a miracle of science!
Lots of people work very hard to make my life long. I owe it to everyone to keep adding those years.
The old adage is that you aren’t supposed to ask a woman her age. I’m happy to tell you my age. I’m 60 and I can’t wait to be 61. This is the goal – this is the reason I’ve been trying to take care of myself all this time, so that I can be here longer and enjoy the world. I know I’ll have age-related challenges, and sometimes it will suck to have a 60+ year-old body, but I’ll be here, hopefully writing essays when I turn 70 and 80. I hope when I’m in my 90s I’m telling everyone to go ahead get older because it’s amazing.