Guest Post from Margaux
March 15, 2012 § 74 Comments
Many thanks to Margaux for this guest post:-
I never realised I was a Plankton until I read the Plankton Blog.
I looked at the evidence. Over 50. Tick. Single. Tick. Live alone. Tick…Yes, I can hear the peels of plankton laughter now.
Here’s me. Since the departure of my significant Long Term over 10 years ago, there has been one Highly Erratic and a couple of What’s Going On Here Thens. Call me foolhardy or call me delusional but I remain optimistic.
Here’s why. We become what we believe we are. Too old to find a partner, a lover, a Significant? Sure, if you believe it, who am I to disagree with you?
So here’s a question. If you didn’t know how old you were- how old would you be? I have one friend who decided she was too old to ski at 50 and promptly gave it up, yet age hasn’t occurred to another friend’s husband as he hurtles down black runs at 67.
The internet dating sites may be the zeitgeist way to find a partner but the emphasis on age does all of us a disservice. No one knows what age looks like anymore. But we all happily filter and are filtered by others according to our preconceptions and self imposed limitations.
In 1979 Harvard Professor Ellen Langer devised a study to see how much ageing is a product of our state of mind. She took a group of elderly men and created around them a time capsule world of 1959. She wanted to find out what would happen by taking them back 20 years. In 2010 Michael Mosley did the same in a BBC documentary with a group of older celebrities – taking them back to the 1970s. The results in both studies showed that when people thought they were ‘younger’ again they behaved as such, right down to how they walked. Their memories, mood, flexibility, stamina and even eye sight improved in virtually all cases.
I love that.
‘But act your age!’ I hear you cry. ‘It’s unseemly to be a Plankton and think we are still young’. Why? Where is the manual that lays out guidelines for behaviour according to age? I advocate disregarding the date on your birth certificate. So if you want to go quad biking or buy leggings from Top Shop, climb Kilimanjaro or dye your hair pink – why not? However you do it is down to you. Harking back to your youth and lamenting it has gone forever won’t change anything. But you can change your attitude, embrace the here and now, decide you aren’t past it and forget the society strictures that tell you otherwise.
A post 50 friend came to stay recently. She lives her life full of self imposed rules gleaned from the dictats of magazines and newspaper articles. No wearing jeans after 50, no eye shadow if your eyelids are a bit crinkly, sensible skirt lengths, shorter hair.
Sod that! I said. Whose are these rules? Where do they come from? She couldn’t answer.
Yes, we may live in an ageist society but I firmly believe age is a state of mind. Decide it’s all over for you and it will be. Decide it isn’t and you may just surprise yourself. Yes, finding that elusive someone is hard in a world where youth is exalted. But I believe that if we start by taking a long hard look at ourselves and then bin our self imposed limitations it may just become a little easier.
And as Henry Ford once said: Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.