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The Old Chestnut About Ageing

Along with the madness of the new wave of being busy—cue me wanting to stick hot pins in my eyes at the very thought—I’m hearing a lot from women about a topic that never gets old: age.

What I’m hearing isn’t exactly warming my heart. ‘I’m 56, I can’t go for this role’. ‘I’m in my fifties, I probably should stop going out so late’. ‘I’m middle aged, I’m menopausal and I’m lost’. ‘I’m too old to start dating again’. ‘Tell me honestly—am I too old for a bikini?’

People. This is hardly the first time anybody has said this. I’m not reinventing the wheel, but I’m discouraged by the plague proportions of ageism right now. But the message is that age doesn’t define you, or stop you from doing anything you want.

Yes, I understand that for women particularly, middle age can be a time of uncertainty and growing invisibility, in their personal and professional lives. But I often think in some cases, it’s a mindset rather than a reality, so it’s something we can change.

Right now, with the reverse of the Great Resignation in full swing, older people who took early retirement around Covid to get the flexibility they wanted are being drawn back into the workplace. And in a way it’s because of their age—they’re back because their age means they have experience and expertise, and they add huge value.

Age doesn’t limit you. As you age, if you avoid getting stuck in your ways and keep evolving, keep trying new things, keep taking risks, you’ll always be amazing. You’ll be literally decades ahead of everyone else going for roles, in every way including the calendar.

My tip is that instead of using the word ‘old’ to think about yourself, substitute it with wise, experienced, healthy, intelligent, driven, educated, valuable. Then if you’re pitching yourself to an organisation, keep that front of mind: ‘I have the skills and experience that nobody else does. That money can’t buy. That can’t be replicated by a new degree. I’m a weapon!’

The harsh truth about society is that when someone is young and beautiful, they get the attention. But they might not have the substance. You do. Use it.

And no, you’re never too old for a bikini! Or for anything. Do it all. Do it now. Know the alternative to ageing is being dead in a box. You’re lucky to have the chance to get older. Honour that.

I’ll be reading this back to myself as my knees grind when I fall out of bed into my gym gear! You’re never too old for gym Julie – just do it!