Monday, November 27, 2006

Reflections on Aging

While I've always accepted the idea of getting older (in fact, there was a time when the thought was downright titillating!), I'm having a hard time accepting the idea of aging. And today, two days before I turn a monumentous 50 (fifty... five-oh), I'm really not liking the idea at all.

Nothing hurts, I take no medications, and "chronic" hasn't weaseled its way into my vocabulary much. But still. Chronologically speaking, I'm over-the-hill. When I was five -- and fifteen, and twenty-five -- fifty was just plain OLD. A fifty-year-old was gray, hunched over, smelled funny and said things like "deary" and "sonny."

And yet, my father, who is approaching 80 (eighty... eight-oh), and is -- I swear -- reverse-aging since falling in love, says that the decade from 50 to 60 has been his favorite so far because he was old enough to be wise and young enough to feel great.

If I'd move more and eat better (dang Thanksgiving leftovers!), I could feel great! It is entirely my own fault that I'm relatively out of shape and feeling dumpy. (Now there's a word I never thought I'd relate to!) So maybe one of my birthday resolutions should be to fix that. Earlier this year, my mantra was "150 by 50" (as in pounds and years), but I didn't achieve that. And it's my own damn fault.

Having beautiful, vibrant, active daughters makes this whole "aging" thing that much weirder. My mom was always very vain and she fought getting older with a vengeance that I couldn't muster if I tried -- because I've never been as beautiful as she once was. When I was in high school and Mom complained about aging, I suggested that she "get over it and accept it." I just couldn't fathom why it even mattered. Age was stupid, just a construct, and irrelevent. Why was my mom even wasting time worrying about something that was inevitable? Was I wise then, or what?!

Maybe the hardest part about this getting older thing has been the age discrimination that I've experienced as I've looked for work. I'm in a young, high-tech, fast-paced industry and there are lots of young twenty-and-thirty-something whippersnappers applying for the same gaming jobs that I am. The pattern has been that I'm called back for umpteen interviews and that I'm one of two or three finalists for the job. But ultimately the job has always gone to someone younger, someone more recently out of school, someone who's "more of a gamer." The discrimination isn't anything overt, but it's very obvious. And it's part of the reason that I've decided to focus on jobs that emphasize lower-tech educational media, rather than gaming. The gaming industry just seems to be too young for me. My husband, who is an artist for a gaming company is (at 50) the oldest person (of over 200 employees) at his company... and he knows that he could never land his current job if he were looking today. Age discrimination might be illegal, but it is still very much a reality, one that I have to confront every day as I look for work -- hopefully for the last time in a good, long while! I'd like to settle down somewhere and retire from my next position.

So I'm complaining and sounding crotchety. How completely appropriate!

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blackcrag said...

OK, you're not paying attention.

I said 'think of aging like wine' not 'think of aging and whine'! :D

If you were never as beautiful as your mother, then where do your daughters get their beauty from?

Though I have to admit, I am worried about Elizabeth (the older one, right?) Her eyes glow red in every picture I see of her. Is there some Omen-esque thing going on here?

I'd be very careful if she ever rides a bike in the house. said...

love the comment about wine......note not whine!

While I cannot post a link to it the situation in Australia is now seriously reversing the hiring of mature workers, with employers finding that Gen x and Y may not be all they are cracked up to be. For them it is "all about me", whereas those of older years still have a superior work ethic.

BUT.......discrimination can be subtle and yes it does exist in spades.
Just remember, it is our generation that gave the world computers, and almost all of the current electronic gizmos. Yes, nanotechnology may be coming, but how many Gen X and Y have even heard of it?

Go get em; forget the day after your birthday!

Anonymous said...

50 is fine. Being younger is neat but at 50 you just know a whole lot more and you don't bother with a lot of minor silly stuff.

About the job... I hear you about whippersnappers on the job. I worked in an all male art dept for more than 20 years and was laid off just before my 50th birthday. The population of that art dept was getting younger around me every year.

I work from home now, emailing and photo conferencing, and I get more respect from my coworkers and employers now than I ever did when I was there in person. The sex and then age discrimination always kept me from being fully accepted. I fought it for all those years and it took being on my own to finally have some peace of mind and acceptance!

Happy Birthday! Enjoy! You seem like someone who can't help but enjoy yourself.. and fifty isn't really that old when you think of your or my dad (mine was 90 last year)... and the job will come sooner than later I think since you're such an energetic looker.


Anonymous said...

...I forgot the part I wanted to say about the women our age that I know who are happily working for big companies alongside the young whippersnappers. One friend went back to work recently at a tech company she unhappily worked at years ago and now, because of the great new group of people she ended up working with, she couldn't be happier. I think companies are still hiring people our age and if you find the right group to work with, the young'uns aren't a problem...

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