** is the new thirty…

I had a big birthday this week. I was, let’s say, **. Until now, I haven’t really worried about my age or what it means. Likewise, I haven’t judged other people by how old they appear to be (although when I stayed in hospital recently I did query if a young doctor was actually qualified, based on his apparent age, but I *was* on strong pain relief at the time).

However, it’s become clear that lot’s of people expect me to behave a certain way because I am over **. Although I am fairly physically fit, I received an email from the staff at my local swimming pool asking me if I would like to join their over ** swimming. I asked them if there were financial benefits to this and the young lady replied, ‘No. It’s the same price. We just thought you might be embarrassed about swimming with younger people. You know?’ No I don’t. WTF?

Which brings me to another point. Apparently, a woman of my age ‘should’ refrain from any behavior that includes swearing, being angry, sadness or dissatisfaction, or disagreeing with anyone (particularly men, but that’s for another post). If, however, I do feel any emotions that mean I wish to outwardly show any of the above, it cannot possibly be valid because it is ‘THE MENOPAUSE’. For me, this is only a small shift away from ‘PMT’ or, as it is more commonly theorized, ‘THAT TIME OF THE MONTH’ or ‘HORMONES’.

I’ve always been a thinker, and I like to speak my mind most of the time. I never get personal  or label people because I feel that personal name calling is something I would resort to if I couldn’t construct a decent logical argument. Yet, all through my life, and particularly now I have reached **, it’s open season on my reproductive system, with my social and political analysis somehow suddenly associated with my menstrual cycle?

But it’s not just what I say. No. It’s how I look, too. Only last week I was with some colleagues and the inevitable discussion about eating habits came up. I mentioned that I enjoy a piece of cake every now and again, and this was met with the comment, ‘Well, at your age, it’s harder to loose those pounds, isn’t it?’ Of course it is. Last Saturday, when I turned **, the laws of physics changed immediately. I suddenly morphed, in that moment, into someone who, if I ate less and exercised more, could no longer loose weight in the conventional way. And all because I am **. I don’t think it had occurred to these people that I like my appearance, am comfortable in my own skin, and if I wasn’t I would change it. I’ve never felt the need to conform to media images of body shape, and that has in no way changed because I am **.

The same colleagues asked me if – with their heads cocked to one side, and speaking a little louder than normal because, after all I am officially old, now I am ** – I will be looking forward to retirement? RETIREMENT? I started work at 14. It was 16 hours a week worked outside school hours. I am barely two thirds through my working life. For most of those two previous two thirds, I was also looking after various school ages of three children. My children have left home so now I am able to WORK HARDER IN PAID WORK TO FULFILL MY LIFELONG AMBITIONS. I’ve only just started to be all that I can be.

So, Happy Birthday to me. Happy ** Birthday to me. I’m still not worried about my age. It seems like people’s expectations of me have become stronger, which is good, because the harder they look at me and try to judge me the more impact I can make to show them that ** is the new 30 and, in the immortal words of Bachman Turner Overdrive, ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!’