In a few short months, I’m approaching the big 3-0. The age Brits officially stop feeling young. I used to tell myself this was the age I would feel ‘successful’. No more bad dates, bad jobs, unhealthy negative thoughts, poor diet/lifestyle choices. Somehow, it would all snap into place.
At 18, I was working on a skincare counter in London. Because the brand believes 25 is when a woman’s skin starts to age, we sold twenty-somethings anti-ageing treatment. Initially, I thought this was absurd and ridiculous. But then I met a 24-year-old with faint lines and patches of dehydrated skin cracking through her foundation. Her teeth, yellow enough to believe her breakfast consisted of Haribo and cigarettes. As horrible as it sounds, her face reminds me to coat my skin in double layers of SPF.
We know lifestyle factors can influence how old we look, but can we influence our age by how we feel?
My teeth are not as white as they once were (though not yellow); my oily skin has lost shine. I can no longer lose weight as quickly or wake up to my first alarm. Coffee has become a necessity and a night out drinking requires at least two days to recuperate. Supermarkets let me buy alcohol without showing ID, though I persist to get it out in case the teenager serving me believes I’m the same age as her. Rather than asking about nights out, people discuss kids, mortgages, rising energy prices.
There are lots of things that prove I’m no spring chicken. I used to fear I would reach this point and feel like a failure. Someone with goals and no achievement. I suppose I thought that way because we’re taught fun happens in our youth – when we age, we become mature and practical.
We’re not meant to go on big adventures, create new careers, party till 3:00am… so many people tell me they’re too old to go out clubbing and want to be in bed by 10:00pm.
Despite the physical signs letting me know I’m approaching a new decade; I feel incredibly young. In fact, probably younger than I did at 24.
What makes some of us age differently? Is it wrong to want to hold on to feeling young? According to the BBC, our subjective age (the age we feel) can predict health outcomes including life expectancy. For those of us who feel younger than our actual age, we not only acquire the wisdom that comes from life experience, but we also become ‘less neurotic’, have a lower risk of dementia and ill health while maintaining the ‘exuberance of youth’.
The BBC article notes that people tend to become ‘less extroverted and less open to new experiences’ as they get older. In my ripe age of 29, I am heading towards the opposite. I haven’t achieved all my goals – I’m still focusing on self-development and carving the career I aspire to.
But I’m no longer running around panicking that I need to hit x and y and z before a certain date to feel successful. While my early to mid-twenties were filled with anxiety, insecurity, and overall self-doubt, I’m in a place now where I trust myself enough to know that I don’t need to worry. I live life much more freely which means I get to enjoy more fun.
And that’s why I’m ignoring my birthdate.
Many articles describing how people change in their 30’s declare that we mature by opting for quiet nights in instead of wanting to go out. We also stabilise in our careers and stop seeing the purpose of casual sex.
Well, I don’t care what age I hit. I like a quiet night in, but no one is taking my cocktails away from me. Or my late nights blogging and watching bad TV while I’m childfree and able to do so. In my mind, I feel somewhere around 24. Not because I’m fearful of ageing or because I’m some sort of Peter Pan who doesn’t want to grow up. I’m not approaching 30 because a lot of the people I know at this age feel old.
They tell me how old they feel, and they discuss things that don’t overly interest me. I feel like life is ahead of me and I have all the time to grow and keep figuring myself out. What would I do with myself if all my bad habits and reckless fun was stored away at such a young age?
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