No this isn’t a typo and you did not read this title incorrectly. I really do feel this way. Granted, this is not something that occurred overnight; it’s taken a few years for me to arrive at this place.
I guess that I’m fortunate, with each milestone that I reached: 50, 65, 70–I think that I’ve managed to handle things well. Granted, I saw the signs of age creeping up at a little past 50, and my first gray hair did cause me to pay attention, although I do remember laughing when I found it. My very accomplished hair goddess (as I call her) has always managed things well in this department.
For some reason my most recent birthday, which occurred a few weeks ago when I turned 73 really got me thinking. There are still some things that we can control when it comes to the aging process–staying as fit as possible, keeping our weight in check, and staying aware of the things that add to aging.
What I can’t control is the increase in fine wrinkles around my eyes and lips, and the crepe-like skin that now covers me from head to toe. I guess that perhaps Botox or surgery can help to some degree, but there is much about my body that all the surgery or a tub full of Botox is not going to correct. I exercise regularly, eat well, and have managed to maintain the same weight as when I was in high school even after having 3 kids.
With this, what I have been thinking about lately is my ability to serve my peers and business colleagues as I have for the past 50-plus years. It’s my brain, it’s my ability to offer wise decisions, it’s my stamina. These are the areas that I’m concerned about much more than what’s on the outside. Are the things that aren’t openly visible going to affect my performance? Will I slowly view my referral base diminishing? Will my obvious age cause what could be potential clients to seek out a younger version of me?
I see age discrimination as a true problem today, where often business and society begin to look at us differently. We all know that discrimination based on age is illegal, but those that practice it are very cautious to handle it with care. I hear some common dialog that is created: “we must downsize”, “we just don’t have the volume of activity to support a team that is this large”, “we’re taking our practice in a new direction and we fear it will be tough for you to conform to these new systems”. Some of these statements “push the envelope”, yet probably would not necessarily be considered discriminatory.
I love what I do–all of it! I still have myself enrolled in several industry- related projects and so far, I’m not seeing any of the effects of aging when it comes to interaction with my colleagues, clients or peers.
I have my kids and husband on alert and had them assure me that any signs they see—any signs–need to be brought to my attention so that I can take proper action and be realistic, as difficult as it might be. And by the way, we are all doing the same for my husband. It’s a tough realization, but one we all must address sooner or later.