Age is but a number….

I’m not sure where I’m going with this post so it might come out a bit higgledy piggledy with confused thoughts going this way and that.

In one of the books I started to read last week (Missing Presumed, Susie Steiner, published in 2016) the main character aged 39 is described as ‘on the cusp of her forties’

When you first meet her this is how she’s thinking about herself

“She can feel herself gliding into that invisible phase of womanhood, alongside those pushing prams or pulling shopping wheelies.  She is drawn to the wider fittings in Clarks, has begun to have knee trouble and is disturbed to find that clipping her toenails leaves her vaguely out of breath.  She wonders what other indignities ageing will throw at her.”

I got a bit riled up when I read that (and I was only on page 6!)  She’s supposed to be a well educated woman holding down a good job in the police force yet the author is painting a picture of a – well I don’t know what. A self doubting troubled person afraid of what she thinks are signs of ageing.  I mean to say – wide feet, wonky knees and big bellies are not signs of growing older – they are found in a great number of the population. Young and Old!

Why does anyone do this – make assumptions that growing older will make us invisible to the rest of the population as well as bring with it a whole lot of troubles and woes or as in this particular author’s words ‘indignities’ ,

I’m just wondering how other readers feel – am I the only one bothered by this negative attitude to the changes that may happen, is it only older generations who object to this way of thinking, do others object to being portrayed in this way, do younger ones actually think that growing old/er will be a terrible thing to do?

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this issue.

Linking to Mel’s weekly MicroBlog Monday

34 thoughts on “Age is but a number….

  1. If getting breathless cutting her toenails is an indignity this woman has led a very privileged life. And is more than a little bit precious about it.
    I am enjoying growing older for lots of reasons. Not least being less concerned about other people’s opinions (particularly about how I look). I wouldn’t be a teenager again for any money – even if it was possible. Yes, the body was less recalcitrant, but oh the anxt…

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    • I think it’s the fact that the author put forward those thoughts that annoyed me EC. We are aware changes could happen as we age but so many people write about as if it is something to fear.

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  2. Cusp of her forties? Who thinks like that? Is this character overweight? I wouldn’t have gotten much further into that book before I bagged it. I was a whole lot older than that before I even thought about aging.

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    • The trouble is Sharon ageing is pushed into the mind of so many of us with advertising promoting ‘anti ageing’ products suggesting ageing is a bad thing to happen.

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  3. Cusp of her forties…? Whoever would find that worrying…let alone have problems with clipping her toenails?
    The indignities start when, at whatever age, you need care from others when those others are not people you know and trust.
    I would not be young again for any money…too much angst…

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    • The thing is Helen we didn’t necessarily think old age was something to ‘fear’ when we were younger. Growing older was something that happened – and for most part accepted. We didn’t seem to be constantly worrying about and trying to stop it happening.

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  4. Except for her relatively young age to be thinking like that, I do understand where she is coming from. Yes, there are some terrific things about becoming older but it is not all fun. My partner often complains at how younger and prettier people will get served before him, out of turn, and that they get better service when they are served. I am not so sure about that. He is very sensitive to such matters, which often go over my head.
    Interesting discussion point.

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    • Funnily I used to get that ‘invisible’ feeling when I was younger Andrew lol. As I got older I seemed to realise I had to speak up or I really would be ignored. Being short doesn’t help when standing in line or in line across a counter so now I’ve become an assertive (read noisy) short ‘old lady’ 😊

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  5. Clearly the author is a bit of a muppet, I am over 60 and only just having problems with the toenail cutting, I suggest she must be 20 when the thought of 30 seems old, rather than someone who knows what it is to be on the cusp of 40 I remember being a teenager and dreading 20 because it was so old and I wouldn’t be a teenager anymore. In fact being 20 was the the worst, such a grown up number. I was talking to a well educated and clever person on the cusp of 30, and he spoke of the social media pressure in which everyone is having a wonderful ,experience full, amazing life, and how he compares it to what he is doing. Well certainly at plus 60 that is something which doesn’t bother me! Interesting post, thanks.

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    • It’s a shame, they are their own worst enemies Cathy
      If I was to be honest I would say turning 60 was a biggy for me. Not because I feared what might physically be ahead but because I was working hard at a job I loved and all my friends had retired at 60 and loathed it.

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  6. I am 74 and have saddled myself with COPD due to years of smoking. Both my hip joints have been replaced and one revised twice and the other once, due for revision again soon. I have problems but don’t let them bother me and simply get along with life to the best of my ability. I don’t moan and groan or complain and prefer my independence to the extent possible. I treat every day as a bonus and simply enjoy myself.

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    • Good on ya – isn’t that the way life should be lived? Accept each day for what it is and not fear what could be ahead.

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  7. I agree with you – some people do not feel or act their age. It is just a number and if one is lucky enough to have good health and your mind what more can one want? LOL !

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  8. I have a friend the same age as me (51) who says she’s been feeling invisible for about the last 5 years as she ages. She reckons everyone just overlooks her and she’s no longer valuable in any way to people and their eyes just slide past. I haven’t had quite the same experience, and I must say, I enjoy caring a lot less about what people think about me. Freedom!

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    • Such a shame your friend feels that way. Hopefully you can reassure her that life certainly is worth living. I say look it in the eye and have fun

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  9. If she’s worried about being on the ‘cusp’ of her 40’s, wait until she is in the ‘depths’ of her 60’s. That’s when the real fun begins! She is guilty of indulging in ageist thinking, as so many in our culture are. Being preoccupied with the very early signs of aging, when so young, is symptomatic of deeper psychological problems—the girl needs help!

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    • It’s sad isn’t it Diane that the media (and writers) insist on spreading this waffle. Yes the character in the book definitely had problems!

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  10. It sounds like someone with very few worries in her life… while I have had moments of being sad at how fast time is passing because I’m so enjoying where I am – I am ALWAYS grateful for birthdays. Not everyone is so lucky to age – too many die young. The signs of creaking knees, grey hair (which I have just started to get at the ripe ole age of 30), expanding waist, etc. etc. are all signs of luck, as far I am concerned.

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    • Lol I wouldn’t say I was sad but I was a bit ‘annoyed’ at how fast my fifties passed – they were good years and I didn’t want them to end. However there was so much to look forward to in my sixtys ( and the seventies haven’t been too bad either – so far)

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  11. Our sixth-grade teacher asked the class where we would all be in the year 2000. I answered dead. It still shocks me that it is 2017 and I’m still here. I believed 30 was an ancient age until I got there. LOL 71 is fantastic:-)

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  12. Hopefully the way to deal with older age is to embrace it – use it as an excuse for all manner of ills if you feel like it. And remember, real old age is always ten years away. Blessings.

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    • Hello Pam. Forties was a funny age for me – I felt I was still in the young age grouping yet there were some who thought I was on the way to being ‘mature’ or over the hill. Honestly there is so much to look forward to once you pass 50.

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  13. In general, the focus on what older people cannot do vs. on the wisdom they hold is irksome. Sure, my hair is grey but the focus shouldn’t be on my hair. It should be on all the experience I have.

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    • That’s another side to this negative attitude toward ageing Mel. Even though we have discrimination laws it’s still rife in the community.

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  14. When i was in the primers, Miss Bain was one of my teachers, iI thought she was very old! In my 50s I went to a school reunion and Miss Bain was there – okay she was older but she certainly wasn’t “dead” as I imagine she would be!!!

    When I needed to move from my last rental, people said “why don’t you apply for a housing unit for people over 60?” I tried but nearly every one of them said “sorry you have to be over 70…” apparently, we oldies (I’m in my mid 60s now) are getting younger, living longer due to better medical/other care…

    I know I’m better than I was a couple of decades ago when the “then doctor” refused to investigate anything – changed clinics – wow, great deal of difference!

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