Recently, I have been interested and a bit curious about the idea of people of a certain age being “too old” for things. It is a phrase I hear all the time…and recently, it has become phrase I heard about myself. So, I guess my musing could be simply defensive in nature…but defensive does not, contrary to popular belief, automatically make something wrong.
If someone is doing something that is not harmful to them or others, and that they are capable of doing…that what on earth does age have to do with it?
What on earth does age have to do with whether or not it is the right time to get a tattoo, or a piercing, or dress a certain way (as long as it is appropriate for the event or place; nobody should have-butt cheeks hanging out at the office, regardless of age!), or have certain hair, or wear certain nail-polish colours? What does age have to do with whether or not someone does something harmless and that they are capable of doing and like?
I also wonder why, in this world where so many signs of youth in “older” people…such as being fit, having smooth skin, being active, trying new things…are considered good things and worthy of admiration (and loads of time, money and effort)…while other youthful things (like some of the ones listed above) about are considered wrong for the exact same people of the exact same age? Where and why is the line between “it is good to be youthful” and “that is too young for you”?
Obviously I understand that there are ways of acting that are considered too young…mostly because they are not really suitable for adult lives and responsibilities. There are ways of looking that are not either…but that is as much about audience as age. A 50 year old artist, for example, can certainly wear something to work that a 25 year old intern in a law office cannot! Often, but not always, as we age we also attain a lifestyle that does not suit certain youthful behaviors…(especially for those of us responsible for young lives)…but as I said that is really more about what one is doing than how old they are.
Recently, I disclosed that if I beat my first half-marathon time in my third (my second was a bust), I am finally getting a tattoo…which is something I have wanted forever and ever (because I think they are beautiful and the idea of decorating my skin appeals to me) and not gotten when I was younger only because of what the people around me would think of it. I have decided that at this time in my life, when I have finally achieved so many thing I’ve always wanted to (and some I didn’t even know I wanted to) is the perfect time for this gift to myself. It would be beautiful and meaningful.
People who love me have said, out loud, that they hope I don’t beat my time, so I wont get a tattoo. I find it curious (and a bit concerning) that people who love me think that getting a tiny little drawing on my body somewhere that they wont even see it most of the time (I have been clear any tattoo I get will be small and easily hidden) is so awful that they would want me to run a bad race to avoid it. That is just so…sad to me. Beating my half marathon time…2 days before my 39th birthday…after a really awful 2nd half marathon (yeah, I acted like I didn’t care…but of course I did and I am sure anyone who knows me knows that! I wanted to do better than my first one, and instead did much much worse) would be awesome! It would be amazing! It would be a super duper proud moment for me! But there are people who love me but do not want me to achieve that…because it means I would get a tattoo (which I would probably do anyways…but it would be a great deciding moment for me).
Well here is what I say about being too old for things?
-If not now, when? When is the perfect time to do things for ourselves that others may not like…but certainly wont hurt them? Is there one? I know loads of people that got tattoos at the “right time”…and now hate them, and are even getting them removed. There is nothing wrong with getting tattoos as young adults in my opinion and perhaps I should have done so then, since I wanted to even then…but I would bet that far fewer people who get them in their 30s and 40s and beyond than in their teens and 2os regret them! Adult decisions are, after all, usually better ones.
-Who cares? Really. Why on earth do we spend any time deciding whether or not people are to old for things? What do we judge what people do at all, if it is not hurting anybody in any way? Adults can do what they want. They have attained the freedom and self-determination to do so. That is why they do. Because they can. The idea that an adult is “too old” to do anything simply because of how many years they have lived is ludicrous to me. Especially in a society that value youthfulness, as much as we do. Unless we are all prepared to “grow old gracefully” and not spend a moment of time trying to look and feel and live as if we are younger than we are, the whole notion of being “too old” for things is just silly as is deciding if others are “too old” for things. I know of loads of women in their 30s and 40s getting tattoos and piercings. Some seem to think this is youth chasing. I don’t think so…they don’t really make anyone look younger, do they? I think the more “acceptable” skin creams and little procedures are “youth chasing” (which is fine, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be youthful!). I think it is because so many women, like me, have had to gain a certain confidence to do these things..and the confidence (especially if one’s circle isn’t really into these sorts of things) takes time…even decades…to develop. Also, lets face it, tattoos and piercings are getting more common and socially acceptable, which makes it easier for anyone who likes them to have the confidence to get them…no matter their age.
-I want to get a tattoo at my age because it is the first time in my life I feel confident enough to say “who cares what anyone else thinks of them? I have always loved them, and now is the time to do it, now is when feels right to me”. That isn’t acting young, it is acting my age. It is being an adult who can do something for myself that others may not like but that hurts nobody. I guess what I am really trying to say is…I may seem too old for a tattoo…but I feel like I wasn’t old enough to get one until now. Because when I was more concerned about what others thought of me that what I thought of myself, that was when I was “too young”.