The expression, “Act your age!” has been around for many generations, and we can probably remember someone saying it to us at some point in our life. What it means is to act and behave more maturely. But when does that apply to a mature woman who feels younger than her age, and thinks she has to act the number of her years rather than her authentic self?
Many women say they don’t feel their biological age, and when asked what age they feel inside, they respond with a much younger age than they actually are. Does that then mean they should act the age they feel rather than how old they really are, and if they do, will they be judged for it?
I remember when my children were younger, I was sitting at a sushi bar and reached around to scratch my lower back. I was horrified to realize that my underwear was showing above the waist of my low-cut jeans, and knew right then and there that I could never wear those jeans again. It didn’t seem appropriate at my age to wear a piece of clothing that showed my lingerie, which so many young women today do. As a matter of fact, lingerie has become the new outer wear, and someone like Madonna, who is 60, and who made cone shaped bras and girdles fashionable, still seems comfortable wearing age-defying clothes. Is it more acceptable because she’s famous and the “Queen of Pop,” so therefore we don’t judge her as harshly?
We are less likely to judge Madonna for dressing younger than her age, not only because she’s a pop star, but because she’s been dressing that way since she came onto the music scene in her 20s and never stopped being anyone other than her authentic self. Each of us needs to determine what feels appropriate for our age in how we dress or behave, and for me, wearing low cut jeans no longer felt right for me. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel younger than my biological age. I do, and I let myself express it in ways that feel authentic for me.
One of the ways I express my younger self is going to rock concerts, which I still enjoy doing with my husband. I also love to dance to the same music that excited me in my 20s, like Donna Summer, Al Green and Barry White. When I’m “rocking out,” I don’t think of my age. I just feel the music and let it move through me as I always have, no matter what my age.
Age really is a state of mind, and we mustn’t let a number dictate how we should feel inside. Yes, our biological age will let us know when something doesn’t feel right, just as mine helped me retire a pair of jeans that felt more suitable for a woman younger than me who is perfectly comfortable letting others see the top of her thong. But, if we let our age stop us from being our most authentic selves, then we’re the ones judging ourselves and not expressing who we really are.
We must ask ourselves if acting our age means that we should stop being who we truly are, and if that’s the case, who do we think we have to be once we reach a mature age? The authentic self is the true essence of who we are, and that is our spirit, which is ageless. Why be defined by a number, or thwart our spirit by thinking we have to act or allow ourselves to only be seen in certain ways?
Our age is not what we wear or what our interests are, but we need to make sure that our choices reflect how we truly feel, no matter how old we are. If we let our authentic self help guide us in our decisions, we will find ourselves dressing, acting and behaving in ways that feel absolutely appropriate to who we are, which is a combination of our biological age and the age we feel inside. And, if someone asks what that number is, you might find yourself responding in a whole new way because, as we know, it’s all a state of mind.
See her book: Live True: A Mindfulness Guide to Authenticity