I am not old!

I am not old -

why can't you see that?

I keep saying it to myself 'I am not old'. But it has come as a dreadful shock – while I still think of myself as young – well middle aged maybe - I am in fact getting toward ‘old’. I hate being over 60. I wasn't too bad at 50 but by 55 I could see 60 approaching. Friends say I should be grateful that I have reached this age, and without too many health issues, so yes I am grateful but I still can’t accept it.

In my head and looking out my eyes I am not old I am a 35 year old man. Looking back at me in the mirror is a fairly fit older man with receding hair and quite a few ‘laughter’ lines.

With friends my own age who I see regularly I don’t notice them ageing so much but when I meet up with people I haven’t seen for years I’m shocked at how they have aged – and in many cases let themselves go – even running to fat!

I haven’t done that. I have too much respect for my own body, or to be more honest I hate the idea of becoming flabby and I can feel the skin start to loosen.

Now that I have a bus pass I only use it when I don’t recognize anyone else getting onto the bus. If I meet someone I know at the bus stop I’ll pay full fare although the regular bus drivers look at me suspiciously, but thankfully say nothing. When I originally got my bus pass I was disappointed that the bus driver willingly accepted it and didn’t query my eligibility.

Because I’m self-employed I can still say I’m working – I give marketing and sales advice to companies – however with the recession this work has virtually dried up, but I don’t mention that to other people. My office is at home so no one knows.

I look at old retired people and think ‘that’s an old person I have nothing in common with them.’ I just can’t relate, they seem like a different generation, and there was no one I could identify with because I am not old.

I tried a keep fit class at my local centre – it was for people over 50 but was filled with women who had totally let themselves go and looked to be 70+. There was one very overweight man and me. The exercise was so slow that I got tired waiting for everyone else to keep up.

I used to go to the gym regularly but in recent years I have watched the younger fitter men then looked at myself in the mirror and decided it was time to leave. I have an exercise bike that I use from time to time, but mostly it sits idling in the garage.

When I hear older people saying this is the best time of their lives, I can’t help thinking, “what rubbish! Who are they trying to kid?” They say they are happy to grow old gracefully - so is  that why there are waiting lists for nips and tucks?

So what’s wrong with me? 

Those people in that exercise class are at least admitting that they are not as young as they used to be. Why am I kicking and screaming trying to avoid being dragged into old age? I want everyone to think I’m really a young person in disguise. Or, maybe just a young person, period! No disguise! I know — I’m trying to avoid something that I know is impossible to do.

I have to accept that those aches and pains I never had before are not imagined. One thing I haven’t forgotten is what a good memory I used to have. I am always delighted when someone tells me I am looking great – but wonder if this would come with the caveat ‘for your age’.

I’ll never be sixteen again 

But I wouldn’t mind being thirty-five with plenty of time before I turned 50 and 60 or 70. Although I must concede that it’s a relief not having to worry about decisions about my career with all the competitiveness that came with it. I have enough money to keep me in comfort but I just need to work out what I do next, and how to learn to accept that I’m growing older. 

Am I the only one who feels like this or are there others out there just like me?

Alexander, Cornwall

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