Don’t let anyone ever say you’re ‘too old’

Do you remember when you were “too young?”
I do. “Marie’s too young,” they said.
Too young to date. Too young to go in service abroad. Too young to hear the secrets of her older classmates. Too young to be president of the literary society. Too young to travel through New York City and change trains in Grand Central Station alone. Too young to learn to read. Too young to teach.
I did some of those things anyway, but sometimes people looked askance. You’re not supposed to do certain things when you’re too young.
Somehow, it’s never bothered me much if people think I’m “too old” to do some things. It’s such a pleasant change from having been called “too young” for so long.
And besides, now I’m old enough to know you don’t have to listen to the opinions other people voice about your life.
It’s one of the problems of our society that people always try to make judgments for other people—to tell them what they should or shouldn’t do on the basis of how things look from the outside.
That’s not reasonable. You know how young you are, or how old. And you’re the only one who does know.
You’re as young as your legs will let you be, or your mind, or your spirit. You can play tennis if you want to, or golf. You can walk two miles a day, or jog.
You can read as many books as you want to and hold as many jobs as you like.
Youth and age are always relative. When my cousin was six years old and I was four, that made me too young to hear her secrets.
When the dean of women was 30 and I was 17, that made me too young to travel through New York City alone.
I still remember when my friend Elaine was a camp counselor, well before age 30, and how one of the campers dropped her jaw in the community bathroom when Elaine brushed her teeth in the usual way.
The camper looked away embarrassed, stammered a little, and said, “I thought . . . I thought everyone your age had false teeth.”
Youth and age are not realities. They’re created by us from our current life perspective. And it’s up to us this side of 60 to create our own youth.
Empowerment always comes from within. There’s no other possible source. No one else can empower you. No one else can make you young enough to pick up your end of the world’s burdens and pursue your exciting adventures.
And no one else should have the right to tell you whether you’re too young or too old.
On the other hand, if you let other people tell you you’re too old to do this or that, maybe you are too old. If you can’t hold up your end against busybodies and meddlers who want to run your life for you, then maybe you deserve to be called too old.
But I doubt it. Just pick up your courage. Ignore what the world says about youth and age, and make your own decisions about how you will use your years. It’s your life this side of 60 and you deserve to enjoy it.
Copyright 2003 Marie Snider
Marie Snider is an award-winning healthcare writer and syndicated columnist.
Write Marie Snider at thisside60@aol.com or visit her website at www.visit-snider.com

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