Today is my 50th birthday.
I have a confession to make. I lied about my age for most of my adult life. Lying might not be the right term, I usually didn’t quote a false number, I simply told people that I don’t like to talk about my age. People pressed me all the time, but I was consistent and firm. I didn’t talk about my age.
Seven years ago a co-worker asked to look at my wallet. I didn’t think anything of it, we’re both fashion designers, I assumed that she was looking at the configuration of the credit card slots. However, she was trying to sneak a look at my ID. It seems that everyone I work with was curious to know how old I really was. She wasn’t fast enough for me, I realized what she was doing and pulled it away before she had a chance to see the date of birth on my driver’s license, but that incident got me thinking. Why couldn’t I admit my age?
Six years ago I went through treatment for breast cancer. It’s sort of a joke among cancer patients that everyone is reduced to two items of information- your name and your birthday. Even when you talk to people on the phone they won’t say anything until you give them your name and your birthday. I work in a really open office where everyone can hear everyone else’s business. At first when I took calls I would try to whisper my birthday so the people I work with wouldn’t hear. By the end of treatment I would rattle off my name, my birthday, and a whole host of other delicate and personal details at the drop of a hat. Clearly I knew that my age was no longer a secret to the people I work with. However, outside the office I was still elusive and mysterious when it came to my age.
Six months ago I went to a swanky fundraiser at a hip Hollywood Hotel. I happened to run into one of my mentors, the yoga guru responsible for getting me into Kundalini Yoga. He is an incredibly popular spin and yoga instructor in West Hollywood. He also DJs and is just an all around cool guy. My friend brought up our plans at the time to go back to Africa this year as he had expressed an interest in going with us on our next trip. Then my friend told him about the safari we were tying to add on to the trip since this was the year I am turning 50 and I’ve always wanted to go on safari.
I was mortified. The first thoughts in my head were-
Oh no! Now Mr. Fabulous knows how old I really am. I’ve just lost all my hip + cool credentials. I think he’s looking at me sideways. Is he disgusted with me now that he knows I am so OLD? How can I dance around and sing and cover up the fact that this even happened? How can I make everyone forget that I am going to be 50 years old?
Why was that my first reaction?
I could blame our society and the media and the fact that we ALL seem to be obsessed with youth. I could blame the women’s magazines and television shows that celebrate the young and either vilify or ignore the old. I could blame the beauty industry and the billions of dollars they spend marketing magical anti-aging products to play upon our insecurities.
But a lot of the blame lies with women like me. Women who won’t admit their real age. If I can’t accept the fact that I am almost 50, if I can’t stand up and yell to the world that I am almost 50, how can I expect the world to accept me at 50? If I were to still lie about my age, to try to seduce people into thinking I am younger than I really am how can I ever find my place in a society where nothing is real? Where every woman I come across is desperately trying anything she can to look younger? I have friends who aren’t even 30 who pull at the hairline wrinkles around their eyes and wistfully wonder what they can do to maintain their youth. In our society most women spend more time (and money) trying to make themselves look younger than they do on any spiritual pursuits. How did we get to the point where how young we look is more important than how we feel?
In not telling the truth about my age I’m not telling the full truth of who I am. The connection we all crave in this life only happens when we can be fully honest with each other, wrinkles and all. In Kundalini Yoga we use the phrase “Sat Nam”. At it’s most simplistic this phrase means “True Name”. Sat Nam. “The truth of my being sees and honors the truth of your being.” The essence is truth. I know that I have to be truthful with myself so that I can be free.
I challenge every woman reading this to admit your age. Stop judging yourself by the standards set up by corporations to capitalize on your insecurities. Realize that lying about your age only perpetuates the concept that how young you are is the only standard by which we should all be judged. Human beings don’t have expiration dates. Your value does not decrease at 30 or 40 or 50. Don’t just do this for yourself. Do this for all the younger women coming up behind you. It is time to tell the truth.
My name is Laura and I am 50 years old today.
Join me. Let’s start a movement.