A post by Teri Skultety, Writer

Age Appropriate After Fifty

(I did change the title of this post, to one that seems appropriate.)

Something broke emotionally within me today. It’s been a long time getting to this, and just as long overdue, and right on time somehow as well. But I’ll tell you what pushed me the rest of the way today, an article in the March 2020 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine titled, “You Don’t Need to be Age Appropriate” by Susan Jane Gilman. Three paragraphs in, I can tell you in all sincerity that nothing in the last however many years has made me want to “grow up” and act my age and be “age-appropriate”ย  more than reading this article did or has. The author writes, after describing that her grandmother looked matronly at her age (55), “like the Queen of England,” she writes that she still essentially dresses like she’s dressed for years, in jeans, ankle boots, wears her hair long, wears “both sparkly nail polish and eye-shadow” and to sum it up “I fully own my age in this age, which means that I often dress like an eight-year-old with money: confident, comfortable, and tinged with glitter.” Let me state clearly and emphatically, there’s nothing wrong with this if that is who you are and how you dress and what you want to do, really. Modes and styles for ladies in this age arena are vastly different than what they once were, and that’s only part of it. But I looked around my “office” today and realized that with the exception of most of the reading material, but not all because on my bookshelf are copies of several “Little House on the Prarie” titles, along with at least one Dr. Seuss book, generally speaking, my office could pass for the room of an adolescent girl. This suddenly pained me more than I can even begin to describe and I realized that in many ways I was far more mature at thirty-one than I’ve sometimes seemed or been in recent years or these twenty years beyond thirty-one. There are a lot of reasons for this, a lot of factors, over many years, contributed to this alphabet soup of I’m not even sure what to call it, but suffice it to say having become so acutely aware of it, I can no longer sustain it. This pains me as well, as it means cutting loose of a lot of “stuff,” emotional and otherwise. I don’t envision myself adopting a nice bouffant hair-do and going in for polyester twin-sets, but some changes are in the offing. Just that one line in the article, “…I often dress like an eight-year-old with money…” and I thought, No. Just. No. I didn’t want to dress like an eight-year-old when I was an eight-year-old. I wanted to dress like a twenty-seven-year-old when I was an eight-year-old. I wanted to be officially an adult long before I was one. I smoked my first cigarette when I was eight or nine, I didn’t stick with it just then but that isn’t the point. (I quit cigarettes twenty-eight years ago.) Incidentally, the article was followed by an article about how great and gorgeous grey hair is and embracing who you are at all stages of life. I found the two articles to be somewhat contradictory, but the larger point is everyone is apparently trying to get a grip on how to just be.

The other thing is that I’ve realized that, intentionally or not, whatever I’ve been holding onto, it’s keeping me from other parts of my life. I don’t want to become the “old woman” who is clinging to some program from some magical evening decades ago “in her youth,” remembering only that moment endlessly, lost in that time. There are worse things, I’m certain of that, but that isn’t what I want. What’s more, that isn’t who I am. This is pretty major. I don’t quite know what the other side of this transformation, this “growing up post fifty,” is going to look like, but it is time to begin it.