When I turned 50 I decided I was no longer going to stand for being diminished or disrespected or trivialized. I know to some of you ladies it will come as a shock that I waited until I was 50 before declaring myself an adult, but that's how long it took.
See, the thing is, when you are 18, everyone who is 21 tells you that you are just a baby. So you can't wait to turn 21 so you will get some respect but at 21 there are those smug 30 year olds telling you that you are a mere pipsqueak. So you reach 30 and think, Aha! I've Arrived! All those older folks will now begin to realize that I am a fully mature adult who makes sensible decisions and has a place of honor in society.
Not so! Because at 40 you get the 47 year olds. And at 47 you get the 60 year olds telling you that you are somehow LESS as a person because you are NOT YET OLD ENOUGH.
Well, Fiddle-dee-DEE! I am 50. I am a grown-ass woman. I AM old enough, and I'm not going to put up with being diminished because of ageism anymore.
The other day while doing yardwork at my client's house, her son-in-law and I were having a chat. He was discussing his health problems, I was discussing mine. (that's a blog for another day: Why do we talk about our health problems with such relish?!) I said that I never thought that at 50 I would be so decrepit and he responded with a rather demeaning, "Oh, 50! You are just a baby!"
I looked him square in the eye and said, "Excuse me, but no, I am not a baby. When I turned 50 I determined that I was no longer going to be put down by older people telling me that somehow I hadn't experienced enough or learned enough to qualify for anything. When you were 50, would you have put up with it?"
He got it. We laughed about it. I said, "I can just see it now. I'll be 97 years old in an institution and some darn 100 year old will be telling me that I haven't seen Nothing Yet and wait until I turn 100, THEN I'll know something!"
Of course now I have to wonder how often I tell people they are just too young to know what they know? I do see young parents and my college age nieces and nephews as frighteningly young, vulnerable and mere babes in the woods. But I think that I will try to be aware of my words around them. It's fine to give spinsterly advice, but I want to try and do it in a way that doesn't make them feel that whatever their age is, it's not good enough for the world.
Because we are, each of us, good enough for the world.