October 30

Age is just a number

Four and a half was significant. The first thing I ever remember about my life is skipping around my house, in and out of the sunny kitchen, asking my mom a question as she sat on her stool at her small kitchen desk. It is vivid in my mind: her back was to me, left hand holding a cigarette sitting slightly hunched over the tiny table, working on something useful for the family I am sure that I was interrupting.

“Am I four and a half yet? Am I four and a half yet?” I asked her over and over and over again that day. I realize my mom, at that time, was younger than I am now. She never turned to face me, I do not think, and I do not remember her response. Maybe that’s when it started. I just don’t know.

I have a problem with age. It crept up on me before I turned 30. Probably a significant age for most. Single, feeling alone, working for years too many at a depressing job. Mom came to visit. We painted my house and she tried to keep me cheerful.  With her help a handful of fantastic friends took me out, in limo style on the town, to celebrate. I was not as appreciative as I should have been.

I was not where I wanted to be in life. I had not completed grad school, I had not married nor had I started a career. And I was 30. It seemed the age where these things should start to come together, start to fall in place, but a bridesmaid I was for the 6th time in half as many years and never the bride.

This is not about marriage. This is about: what should 30 feel like? What should be ok to do and feel and think about it all? What should life look like? At 30. I thought I knew.

Now I am 36. The men I date have gotten younger. First it was just a few years then almost a decade, and now smart and amazing men pass through my life that tell me, “Age is just a number Kate.” My response: “I could be your mother.” They are 20.  Sometimes I think I hear the universe laughing as it tells me in no uncertain terms get over it already.

One of my dear friends is teaching me prospecting. It is grueling work. Shoveling, digging, hunched over in deep cold water, dirt and rocks. Not to mention actually hiking out to the spot to start our hopeful process. We carry all our gear and stumble and slip and crash through branches.  I am exhausted almost before I begin. My friend merrily shovels for me and fills my bucket. He carries most of the gear. He never takes a break. He is 72.

I hate that I feel constrained by this idea of my age. This nebulous idea that 36 should look a certain way, act a certain way, fall in love with certain people. It sucks. It makes me fear aging and wrinkles and things I cannot control. I often say, “I want to age gracefully.” And I really do. But I’m not. I am kicking and screaming and resisting. Some of the resistance is good. I am very healthy, I work out a lot, I eat really well and take care of my skin. But its the mental game that feels more like holding a losing Poker hand at a table full of professional gamblers. I’m trying like mad to bluff, I still get carded, people guess my age: 26? 27? 29?  I know at any moment someone will realize the hand I hold is easy to beat, the dread when they find out my real age, the internal debate- do I lie just this once?

So I decided to see what other people thought about it all. I interviewed a handful of people around me. From age 20 to age 72.  I wanted to know do others believe what I do? Do they struggle with age and that limit? Most of all I think I wanted permission to let my mental age cage go.

I asked them all the same question, is age just a number?

 What I found out? It is. It really really is. And nobody freakin cares what you do, who you love, or how old you are. That in this new day when we look around the rules are gone.  Make your own. Do as much as you possibly can, until you can’t.

I am 36. I am older than I want to be. I am close to halfway on a one way journey. The world still is my oyster, it never stopped. The universe is right and I’m over it. So let’s go.  My poker hand holds less face cards than I’d like. However Im learning what all gamblers know, the hand Im dealt does not limit me.  But I’ll be honest: you’ll have to pry my face cream out of my cold dead hands.

Check out the video below and share with me your ways of letting go of any “age cage”. Please, I’d love to hear it and apply it to my life!