There’s a phenomenon I am noticing that is causing me consternation…
Many women I talk to who are in their 40s and 50s are referring to themselves as though they are already ghosts. They speak about things they would like to do, that are still well within their capacity, as if they were ancient possibilities. Whether it is learning to play the drums or fix a house, or running in a race, it gets referred to in past tense. ‘I would have loved to dance’, one friend said to me. She’s 42 and, last time I checked, still has legs. ‘I wish I’d learnt how to make clothes’, said another who is 50, in rude health, and probably has 50 more years ahead of her.
Two questions spring to mind: the first is, what do these women imagine doing in the last few decades of their lives? Sitting in a chair staring at the TV, or, maybe watching their offspring engage in things they would have liked to do in their stead? Surely not! What a waste of precious life. The other question is, where has the troubling idea come from, that unless you started doing something when you were very young you can’t do it now?
One obvious answer to the latter is that our irresistible but cruel friend, the mass media, throws up hundreds of images a week of young people doing artistic, and practical, and adventurous things, and scant images of people over 30 doing the same. (Unless it’s an ad for a superannuation fund. Lol.) With the lack of images available to us in society of older women being, you know, interesting and engaged, it becomes hard for us to imagine ourselves doing exciting things.
But the stories are actually out there about all sorts of fabulous women starting careers and hobbies and pushing for social change beginning at quite advanced ages. Seek out these stories. It will change how you feel about yourself and the possibilities for your life. Just for starters read about the wonderful Ruth Flowers (DJ Mamy Rock) who began her House DJ career around 70 years of age. Or Jane Juska who wrote her first autobiographical book (on finding companionship…okay, sex) online at the same age. Or Marion Irvine who took up running at 47, qualifying for the Olympic trials at 54….
Even more concerning is that many women are stopped from doing things because of how they will look or think they will look, whilst engaging in various pursuits. So prevalent is the image of the beautiful young ballerina that many women who are, say, overweight and lined feel they don’t ‘look right’ for dancing. Dancing is for all bodies and all ages!! And we have the sad situation of my 29 year old(!) friend refusing to pick up the electric guitar because, as much as she loves it, she thinks she would ‘look ridiculous at her age’ playing it. Tell that to Chrissie Hynde (62 years old).
Become aware of which limiting stereotypes you’ve absorbed that might be stopping you from doing what you would love to, calculate how much is to be gained by shirking those ideas and other social conventions, and start!!
If you think anxiety, low self-confidence or concerns about your appearance are holding you back from seizing what you want in life contact me, Nadine, at Body Map. Because it’s time to get inspired…