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Guest Blog: Precious Growth

It’s July, we see summer growth in full bloom and can appreciate the colour, scents and sounds of nature.

Enjoying verdant hedgerows dotted with clover and fox gloves where recently there were bluebells and before that daffodils, led me to wonder why we are so welcoming of growth in nature and look forward to the changing seasons, but far more resistant to the passing of our own years and the changing of our own seasons?

Do you remind your friends of their greying roots every time you meet them? Do you tell your relatives how much slimmer they were 10 years ago?  I thought not.

But yet this is often how we converse with ourselves, when we look in the mirror (or even when we are on a video call) instead of seeing our smile, our warmth, ourselves in totality, we tend to hone in on something to criticise. 

Do you keep clothes in your wardrobe that remind you that you were a smaller size 10 years ago?  Why are you self-punishing by benchmarking yourself against an image of youthful perfection? 

Success also seems to be amplified for those who achieve it early in life.  Hearing of the accomplishments of young scientists or young entrepreneurs is wonderful.  Do we celebrate the achievements of those in our older generations in the same way?

Why and when did the world become obsessed with being young?  The beauty industry, movies and media all emphasise youth, especially in Western cultures.  In ancient times, family elders were revered and this is still the case in some Eastern countries, where significant birthdays are those at 60, 70 and 80, rather than 16, 18 and 21.  In cultures where ageing is seen less negatively, life expectancy tends to be longer and older people enjoy better health.

The “golden years”, the “silver economy”… gold and silver are precious metals, isn’t it time we recognised the preciousness of growing older? 

As we emerge from lockdown and I see more natural grey hair, I have hope that the tide is already turning.  I note that in addition to its annual 30 under 30 list, Forbes celebrated a 50 over 50 list for the first time ever in June 2021.  This is a list of 50 female entrepreneurs and leaders who are over 50 years old.  Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, who is 81 years old, is one of those featured on the list.  She is quoted as saying “People make their own decisions about their timing, and they don’t have to comply with somebody else’s view of how that should be.”

In May of this year, our President, Michael D. Higgins, began a letter to the singer/song-writer Bob Dylan with the words “As one 80 year old to another..”.  The President congratulated Bob Dylan on his birthday, the inter-generational appeal of his music and his contributions to society.

President Higgins also mentioned that he would welcome the chance to talk to Bob Dylan about a William Wordsworth poem.  The President is an example to us that regardless of age, we can revel in the discovery of opportunities, embrace the chance to meet new people and appreciate the arts, nature and life itself!

Image credit: Philipp Sewing via Unsplash

Stop wasting time looking backwards and start enjoying life, otherwise 10 years from now you will be looking back wistfully at this time. 

Breaking the habit of apologising for, or disguising our age is not easy, but I feel motivated when I think about the message I might be sending to our younger generation.  If I am confident to grow older and admit my age, I am helping to reverse the Western world’s unhealthy obsession with remaining young. 

We can be intentional about celebrating our growth and changing seasons.  We can choose to focus on the opportunities we have now and look forward to what is still to come.

To paraphrase Nancy Pelosi, we don’t have to comply with anyone else’s view of how we should be.  I am going to enjoy being the age I am now and I appreciate that my hair has a silver lining.

GUEST AUTHOR BIO: Sinead Huskisson, Maeve’s first guest blogger, is a client who shares this reflection about growing older.  Ageing is on her mind as she will be 50 next year!

Sinead is a wife of 1, mother of 2, daughter of 2, sister of 3 and friend of many.  Her interests include learning, reading, walking and writing!

Banner image credit: Ilona Mester via Unsplash

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