I turned 60 on Sunday. In the days leading up to it, I said that on my birthday I’d be officially “old.” On my birthday I said that I was now officially “old.” And now that it’s past, I still say that I’m now officially “old.”
Many of my friends, however, are in denial…serious denial. They keep telling me that 60 isn’t old. Some of them have given me the line that “60 is the new 50”…which I guess supposes that 50 was the new 40. Of course, all these friends who tell me that 60 isn’t old have either already crossed the threshold themselves or are coming up right behind me.
But really people, there comes a point where you have to admit that you’re not young anymore, and 60 seems about it.
At 30, 60 definitely seems a long way away…and old. Let’s face it…it’s grandparent age, and by definition, grandparents are old. At 60, 30 seems like it was just yesterday…and young. In fact, I was joking to one of my co-workers that at 59, a 45-year-old woman seemed like “some young thing” to me.
Let’s face it, and face it honestly…people under 20 are kids, 20-29 are emerging adults [a term I got from Aziz Ansari’s book, Modern Romance], 30-39 are adults, 40-59 is middle aged, and from 60 on up is old. You gotta draw the line in the sand somewhere. When you look at colors, there may be some debate as to whether a certain color is blue, green, or aqua; but there’s no confusing any shade of blue with any shade of yellow. That’s a line in the sand that everyone agrees with.
Now let’s be clear about something…old is not necessarily the same as decrepit. There’s an AARP video where “young people” are asked what age they think “old” is, and then to demonstrate how an “old person” would do certain things. It was sort of amusing to hear one of them say that 40 was old (remember that “young thing” I mentioned earlier?), and their perceptions of what “old people” in the 50 to 65 range were told me that they probably hadn’t spent a lot of time around their parents…who were probably in that age range. And yet…while many people are physically and mentally active up into their 90s, I have to admit that I work with a lot of people my age and older who do fit the stereotype of the frail, decrepit, not quite with it, old person. For every person who’s taking weekly East Coast Swing lessons and blogging about it, there’s another one using a walker who has a hard time understanding how to make simple phone calls on their cell phone.
So in case I wasn’t clear about it, my saying that now I’m officially old isn’t about saying that I’m falling apart (although I have to admit that parts of my body remind me daily that I ain’t no spring chicken). Rather, it’s recognizing that I’ve reached a significant milestone, a milestone that says that statistically, with luck, I’ve got about 20 years left.
And there’s nothing wrong with being realistic about it.