I’m late with this post but I have a good excuse. I was celebrating my birthday. I looked up celebrating to be sure that word still works for me at my new older age…and in the broader sense it does, so I’m keeping it.
Let’s talk about birthdays in this age of uncertainty: uncertainty about revealing your age, whether in fact you’re happy about getting older, and any related existential questions. And since fish is good for you as you age, check out this excellent collection of fish recipes from Positive Health Wellness while we chat.
I celebrated my birthday with relatives – including my children, siblings, and their significant others. We ate too much, I opened presents, and we caught up with family news. It was a lot of fun and I felt loved and appreciated…but of course there can be a dark side to birthdays.
For one thing, I was dreading seeing my age change on all the dating sites and apps. I already feel that I – and all women – face age discrimination on these sites. This is evident not just from receiving fewer messages from men as I get older but also from reading profiles.
Many men on dating sites say they don’t want to meet women their own age. Think 5 to 10 years younger and perhaps 20. A matchmaker I consulted (but didn’t hire due to cost) felt that I might do better offline where guys wouldn’t judge me based on a number. But I don’t seem to meet eligible men in real life so online I stay.
So far I have resisted lying about my age online even though I have seen many cases of men fudging their age. For the most part, pictures don’t lie (if they’re current) so the gig is up as soon as I meet someone and see that “no, he’s not 62, he looks like 75.”
What do you think of when you use the word young to describe an “older” person? To me, being youthful is more than just about appearance. Of course that is a factor and one that is fueled by a healthy lifestyle (not to mention clothing). But energy, attitude, and personality are key.
Is this person open to new experiences – individually and with his or her social network? Is she interested in learning and growing? Is he open to new ideas? Does she embrace life and follow one or more passions? All of these things make someone young.
Another indicator of youth: a purpose-driven life. Having a sense of purpose is important at all ages but can be lifesaving as you age. Research has shown that older adults with a sense of purpose are less likely to develop certain diseases and have a greater chance of living longer. For me, this blog provides a sense of purpose and I encourage anyone with an interest in writing to start one.
If I think about the positive aspects of birthdays, I recognize that they provide a chance to review any life lessons learned. Sometimes there’s regret that you didn’t learn those lessons earlier! But when you’re an experiential learner like me, there’s no substitute for learning through trial and error. And that takes time, which equals aging.
One life lesson learned: seize whatever positive opportunity presents itself no matter what your plans are. Presented with an unexpected chance to be with your children? Yes, go for it and let the blog post wait another day. Received a late in the day invitation from a match? Put on fresh makeup and pay those bills later. You get the idea.
So on your next birthday, remind yourself that yes, you may be older, you may have another wrinkle or two but you also may have a better sense of what’s important in life and an appreciation for what makes you happy.
Until next week, happy dating or not dating.