Yesterday, a gentleman asked my age. Over time in the past, when asked that compelling question, I’d reply 21 or 29 (perpetually), 30 something, in my 40s and 50ish. Once in a while I’d shave a couple years. Yesterday, I replied, 62.
His response, “Wow, you look 52!” Well, what does that really mean? I can take that as a compliment with all the nicety assumptions. Yet I wondered, how did he get to that number – and why does a number have such power over us?
In a current role in retail, numbers play a dual role. With size, everyone seems to want a size smaller than will appropriately and comfortably fit. It doesn’t matter if you explain that one designer might run smaller, and another larger. I kindly suggest they forget about the number. I wonder, wouldn’t it be great if a client loved a certain fashion item and I could respond with, “let me get YOUR size” without a number attached.
Further, I often hear, “I can’t wear that at my age.” I kindly respond, “You can wear whatever you want to wear – do you like it?”
As we get older, and wiser, this number thing can tend to restrict us.
At Camp To Belong Summer Camp, I wear oversized T-shirts with my hair in a pony tail. I’ve put on face paint as a clown for the carnival and stick out my tongue as we sing “Singing in the Rain” so I can catch the raindrops. On stage, inspiring a professional audience, I wear a suit with my hair curled and make sure I dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ as I speak.
One can say, “Act your age.” Well, I am… acting the age I feel in the environment I am in. Do I do things to feel young – yes, fitness every day, positive mantras, meaningful connections, ‘special’ creams – but at the end of the day, I am still my age, fit into a size congruent to the designer and wear what I want if I like it.
Some may dream of making and saving more money for the retirement journey. I’d be remiss if I didn’t sometimes feel guilty or even irresponsible when I opted to make a difference instead of making a living – when I questioned (ever so briefly) my volunteer hours and pro bono speaking engagements, reflecting on how I should have more money. My son Tanner relieved me of my questionable state recently. Speaking around a dinner table of fabulous family and friends, everyone grew silent and looked at him when he said, “We do it for the outcome, not the income.”
We hear 60 is the new 40. Well, today I am 63. And 63, well, is 63. And as for what I am wearing, I can still wear my cat suit ! I’ve had it for countless years. More recently a complete stranger came up to me and said, “OMG, you are the only person I know who can get away with that at your age – fantastic!” She didn’t know my age. And as far as more money, I understand it is a balance, yet as they say, ‘some things are priceless’ and I will continue to make a difference without getting hung up on bigger dollar numbers.
My gratitude journal today has a quote by Charles Swindoll, “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”
So this upcoming year, I’m reacting to the age question. I’m not 21, 29, something, in my Xs, and ish or shaving numbers off, I am 63. And I’ll wear a cat suit in the size that fits me and continue to make a priceless difference in our world – because I can!! Perhaps if we ask how young are you (rather than how old), we will create a shift that diminishes restrictions. After all, it is just a number! How do numbers restrict you?