“Am I too old to…….[fill in the blank]?”
Don’t tell me that this question hasn’t crept into your psyche. It has mine. Too often. And I lead an active and (I’d like to think) productive life. But this demon thought has a way of infecting my self-esteem and diminishing my self-worth.
If I see a flyer for a hiking trip, or a job announcement, or news about some vacation that I would have jumped at 20 years ago, the thought creeps up on me: “Aren’t you too old for that?”
Where does this thinking come from? I attribute it to two sources: one external, the other interior.
The external sources include attitudes many elders confront daily: One is Ageism, a form of discrimination — sometimes subtle in nature — against older people in the workplace, in sports, in the media, almost everywhere. The other is Elderspeak: the verbal expression of ageism where we’re treated condescendingly and sometime addressed as “dearie,” or “sweetie,” or some other irritatingly infantile-sounding term.
The interior source is our own situation: Aging does take a toll. Inevitably an array of limitations – from cataracts to cancer – are going to impact our physical and mental well-being.
But aging has its benefits: while I may not be able to run a four or even eight-minute mile, I see a change in my emotional strength; improved people skills, more willing to compromise on my likes and dislikes, and greater openness to listen to both sides of an issue.
Conclusion: I may have become too old for some things. But if I take a longer view, I conclude that elder-ing (not aging) has advantages that I need to recognize and relish.