When I Grow Up

Photo by Ryan McGuire CC BY 0

Photo by Ryan McGuire CC BY 0

When I was a child I wanted to be an astronaut, a gymnast, a dinosaur hunter, a fighter pilot, a pro surfer or run away with the circus. “I can’t wait until I’m older!” This is the mantra I would say over and over to myself when I was six or seven years old. “When I’m old I will finally be able to do what I want!” Yet another gem from my youth. In my 30’s I swore I would never, ever be one of those older women that doesn’t wear stilettos and only wears baggy, comfy, “happy pants” – you know the ones with the crazy 80’s colored track suit that makes that swooshing sound when they walk.

Last week I ordered a pair of Hammer style genie pants. They looked comfy and I’m a dancer right? Then it hit me, like a brick in the head – I am older.

In a few months I turn 46 and I have to say as much as I would like to think I have that sexy, stiletto wearing, no-holds-barred, carefree, age-be-damned attitude, this birthday is really affecting me. Not necessarily in a negative way but I am much more aware of this birthday than others.

As a child and all throughout college I was extremely active. I was in gymnastics classes before I could walk. I was an avid skier and played soccer as well. These were all activities that came naturally to me and they were the things I loved most. But somewhere along the line I became an “adult” and life got in the way. All the glitter in my world was replaced with work and mortgages. I hear this all the time from women and men hovering around my age range. When did we give up “ourselves”, relinquish our childhood dreams?  During my early 40′s I realized I missed “me”. I missed all of the things I loved to do in my youth. Is it too late I pondered? Am I too old?

I wanted some of that glitter back, but how to go about finding it? While I might be a tad too old to run away with the circus I might be just old enough to bring the circus to me, so I started taking pole classes, which led me to aerial arts. I realized I love this stuff! It’s amazingly fun and while I might not be able to run off and join Cirque du Soleil I can most definitely incorporate it into my everyday life and maybe even open up a studio. And why exactly did I never learn to surf? That gig as a pro surfer was not going to happen if I didn’t actually learn how to do it, so I started taking lessons and now paddle out every Sunday I can. I’m also really trying to eat healthier. It’s a domino effect. I set out to make some small changes, to capture some of the fun and lightheartedness of my youth and in doing so I realized my childhood dreams were always with me, albeit slightly buried.    

After class the other day at my studio one of the students said “You’re cool – I want to be you when I grow up.” At first I was highly annoyed. But then I was flattered. Age really is just a number, a number I have come to embrace, respect and even be proud of. We should strive to live life to its fullest, whether in our 20’s or 60’s. What’s the saying? “Youth is wasted on the young”? There is beauty in age and maturity.  I have gained a sense of self that I didn’t have in my twenties and I’ve found I’m more willing to let go of things that are negative in my life and embrace the positive. 

And while I acknowledge all of the psychological complexities that come with growing older, it’s okay because it’s a part of life we all go through. It’s extremely important for us to figure out how to keep our body, soul & mind young, while continuing to age physically. We also need to find a balance between responsibility and fun. For me I think it’s achieved by working hard, surrounding myself with people who love me and are deserving of that love, exercising and training for the health benefits and the love of the activity (not necessarily to compete) and to always continue to chase my dreams. Dreams and goals are important; I honestly believe the only way we truly fail at them is if we never try.

So bring a little glitter into your life. Those circus classes you’ve always wanted to try – sign up for a class. And don’t tell yourself “I’m too old” or “I’ll do it when I lose weight.”  Just do it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Our experiences define who we are, so regardless of our age we should all learn to take more risks daily, whether that means, pole dancing, aerial arts, surfing, dinosaur hunting or just breaking out of our daily ruts. It really is about the journey not the destination.  And yes I’ll be navigating that journey comfy in my happy pants.

Love & Glitter