My last birthday is called a “speed limit birthday” in the “senior classes” that I teach. You know, like a road sign on life’s turnpike (and the tolls are physical rather than dollar bills). Something like that makes you look at a milestone birthday just a little closer, because you know, you don’t want to break any laws.
But here’s the thing about turning 55 – you can either let that number define who you are, or show it who’s boss.
And I’m working on making 55 my best friend rather than a state of mind.
I don’t mind that I now officially qualify for some senior discounts that I previously only benefitted from because my husband is 4 years older than me – and we’re a package deal ya know. People saw he qualified and automatically assumed I did too.
Yesssssssss – give me allllll the monies off please.
And there are certain medical procedures that doctors started preparing me for when I was 49 – not even 50! And the best part when I was turning 50?
That early AARP application in the mail <——sarcasm.
I have some reminders about being 55, of course. My back will sometimes want to remind me that I’m not 28 anymore, even if that’s what realage.com claims I am. And a leg injury a couple of years ago voices its unwanted opinion to say (imagine the Ryan Gosling meme), “Hey girl, ya can’t get on that longboard anymore” (a hobby I started in my earlier 50s, a year prior to said leg injury).
And all of these battle scars, aka surgical scars, through the years are really trophy ribbons of survival – I have 9 of those!
But otherwise, if this is 55 it’s a very funny joke, because I thought at 55 I’d be much more mature in my thinking and a whole lot more worn down.
Maturity is waaaaaay overrated.
When I was 11, my 9-year-old friend’s mom was having a birthday party. I distinctly remember her being embarrassed to tell me her mom was turning 40. The shame! In the early 70s, 40 was considered well on your way to the grave because you’d hit the dreaded “middle age” mark. My own parents were considered older parents. My mom was 37 and my dad was 41 when I came along (their ages are reversed on my birth certificate, which my dad took great pleasure in teasing mom about being the “older woman.” Mom didn’t enjoy the joke as much).
I think the difference is mainly in the frame of mind of today. I stay engaged in my work as a health coach, which brings me in contact with many different people and connected to the world around me.
I feel compelled, almost obsessed, to stay active physically, mentally and emotionally. If I sit too long I get stiff – rust never stops, so neither can I.
Some of my engagement in the world – in fact, most of my engagement – comes from health coaching and leading fitness classes for people 65 and over. They see me as the “baby,” which helps a lot with keeping a youthful mindset!
My dad told me when teaching me to drive, “You control the car; don’t let the car control you.” So yeah, I’m driving 55. It will NOT drive me!