It's just a number

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I turned 42 recently, but I don't feel it (how is it meant to feel?). My friends range in age and not one of them seems particularly older or younger than me. I don't know many twenty somethings, but I have teenage nephews. I imagine to them I seem pretty ancient, but I really don't feel that much older than them. Being a teenager doesn't seem that long ago. In the same way that I don't feel that much younger than my friend's in their 50s.

The only people that seem older than me are my parents, but in all likelihood that's just because they are my parents - the ones who disciplined me, and spoiled all my fun* as a child.

Now I'm in my 40s I still don't feel like a grown up, and I'm told no one ever really does, except maybe my brother who seemed to be born at the age of 30 (again this could be due to the fact that he was my older brother - by only two years - who bossed me around a lot*). But I'm a wife, a voter, a taxpayer, a homemaker, I'm self employed, I've kept pets alive for almost decade, I've been called up for jury service, and I grow vegetables and have a hankering for a shed. All signs of adulthood surely?

I own a cake slice for goodness' sake.

But I still find the word knob amusing.

I still sit on the floor cross legged (although admittedly I can't do that for very long anymore), I like love skipping, I have the urge to giggle at inopportune times, I think the best card game of all time is Snap!, I'm not above pulling faces behind someone's back if they're being irritating, I love swings (and am overjoyed if I come across a roundabout - of the playground variety - but you don't see many of these about anymore), I can still climb a tree as long as the lowest branch is low enough, Easter egg hunts still delight me, and I love dressing up. So, how can I possibly be all grown up?

Is there a test I can take?

I might not feel like a grown up but I'm glad I got to be a child when I did. (And here is where I start to do that thing that grown ups do - perhaps this is proof of my adult status?) There were no over the top health and safety regulations, no mobile phones, and school sports days had winners and losers. We had only three TV channels (I remember the launch of channel 4) none of which broadcast all night - and you had to get up off the sofa to change the channel! No internet, apps, or games to keep you in indoors glued to a screen. Of course it's all rose tinted to me now, at the time I probably thought it was all rather boring, except for the roundabouts (of the playground variety).

I spent a lot of time wanting to be a grown up (mainly for unfettered access to lipstick and high heels, and the option to go to bed when I wanted), all the while being told to 'grow up', and 'don't be a baby', but now I am allegedly an adult I have a growing desire to hold on to the essence of the girl who climbed trees, skipped a lot, and played a mean game of Snap! These days I have no problem with going to bed in the summer before it gets dark outside. I've outgrown my desire for heels, preferring the comfort of flats, and my lipstick obsession never really got off the ground. Adding another year to my age doesn't bother me, I feel neither old nor young. And I only adult when I absolutely have too.
 
*kept me safe by stopping me doing stupid things

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12 comments

  1. Like you I don't feel my age (58) in fact I don't even think about it much, I do weight lifting and gym/swim, walk a lot and enjoy life; at work I am amongst a mix group with twenty somethings prominent which keeps me young, my children are 18/23 so that keeps me in touch too. I don't follow fashion. I love roundabouts too (and swings - which I always have to test out if I find), laugh at knob too - and new to me words like clunge - love the Inbetweeners!!! - I refuse to be compartmentalised, categorised or age-ised! - and I am glad to have found a kindred spirit; a lovely, uplifting post, thanks.

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    1. Swings must always be tested! Haha - clunge.
      Glad you enjoyed the post, whilst I don't think about my age, I do think about age, if that makes sense. I think age is perhaps becoming less of a dividing factor between generations.

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  2. What a lovely post, and words I should probably take to heart as I'm being an enormous whiny baby about turning 40 next year ("Whaah! Don't wanna!").

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    1. I have to admit I did feel similarly. But then you wake up the day after turning 40 and realise you feel the same as you did every day in your 30s.

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  3. First of all, happy 42th, Hazel. I also celebrated my birthday recently, and even if I turned 56, I still feel the same as you, although climbing a tree would be beyond me! I think the child you once were stays with you through life, hence the face pulling and swinging, which I do too. I too am glad I grew up when I did. We lived in a newly built cul-de-sac, and we were playing outside all the time, without supervision. There was only one TV channel (in Belgium, that is) and my parents didn't have a telephone put in until long after I'd left the house! xxx

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    1. And Happy Birthday to you too.
      Only one TV channel? That's hard to imagine, but at least there were no arguments about what to watch. Wouldn't life be simpler with just one channel?
      When I became aware of the telephone it was at a time when the phone number was only 4 digits, no area code. That makes me smile.
      I'm glad we all retain the child we used to be, I think we should let them shine through whenever possible.
      x

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  4. I like your attitude. It's funny how little I think about age these days; I've been lucky to have friends of all ages for years and genuinely often forget how old they are. As you say, it's all in how you approach life.

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  5. My grandparents always seemed ancient and when I look back at photos of when they were in their sixties, they LOOK old too whereas my mum (who is 60 now) looks amazingly young and funky to me. Then again, my 11-year-old nephew probably thinks his nanna is decrepit. I think it's all relative. Happy belated birthday - hope you had a great time x

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    1. My Grandparents seemed, looked and acted much older than my parents do now they're in their 60's too. I think the lines are blurring as time passes, and it's a change for the better
      x

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  6. What a beautifully written piece, Hazel. Wishing you a happy belated birthday.
    Age, as all the other commenters have already said, is relative. It's how we feel and not a series of numbers on our birth certificates.
    I used to think women over 35 were middle aged old has beens who were a disgrace if seen out in pubs having fun. The teenage Vix would be horrified by almost 51 year old me, freaking out in the mosh pit at festivals, being loud in pubs, wearing ridiculous outfits and generally having more fun than my uptight, corporate younger self! xxx

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    1. Me too, I used to imagine 42 being so old. Now I don't feel any different to how I did in my 20s - a little more tired maybe ;)

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