Fuck yeah, I’m getting older! My alternative anti-aging manifesto

Guest post by Lyndsey Clarke
You Are Getting Old card by Etsy seller joolisCARDS
You Are Getting Old card by Etsy seller joolisCARDS

The inevitability of aging has never sat well with me. As someone that likes to argue, charm, and otherwise wriggle her way out of every sticky situation, the non-negotiable truth that I too would age and deteriorate has always terrified me.

In my early thirties, I found myself in a very different place in life than I had planned — alone with a small child. I again began questioning where would I find myself in 30 years’ time. I was deeply conflicted, having made the decision to leave an unhappy marriage. I saw my (suddenly not-so-vast) future stretching out ahead of me, and rather than being filled with optimism and possibility, I was battle scarred and exhausted.

The daily realities of aging have also terrified me — losing my physical strength and vitality, and also the effect the years will have on my appearance. As a woman in a society obsessed with youth and beauty it is hard to shake off the stigma of aging.

Slowly, however, I became aware of the wisdom that I have gained through all my life experiences. Gradually I began to feel a sense of possibility and clarity. I began to see that my fear of aging was not of the increasing candles on my birthday cake, but of losing the person I am now.

As I approach my 33rd birthday I set about devising my own, alternative “anti-aging manifesto.” I began to write it down, and found myself smiling, as my words were light hearted and empowering. I was focusing on all the things I want to embrace.

Perhaps the greatest erosion of self-identity comes in the way time alters our appearance

Again this is inevitable. Instead of being a Botox slave I have another plan. For sexy lips I will smile often, and kiss a lot. For beautiful eyes I will take in amazing sights. I will see the world beyond the holiday resorts. I will take the road less travelled. My eyes will see beauty in the people and places I encounter. I will see the possibilities rather than the drawbacks.

My experiences will be etched on my face and body in the tattoos, scars, and wrinkles I collect. I will create laugh lines rather than frown lines. For a glowing complexion I will fill my life with happiness and orgasms, both of which I will re-apply on a daily basis, along with moisturizer.

Seeing myself reflected in the ones I love is the best mirror.

I will keep my body strong by climbing mountains, and keep it soft with wine, romantic dinners and the edible delights I find on my adventures. I will measure my self-worth in accomplishments rather than a number on a scale.

My hair will go grey, and I will embrace this. My hands will be the hands of someone that has lived, weathered and calloused, but soft enough to hold the hands of my child and grand children. I will surround myself with people that see goodness in me, and move away from those that see my flaws. Seeing myself reflected in the ones I love is the best mirror. An adventurous spirit is the best anti aging product. Also a sense of humour and intelligence will never droop, sag or wrinkle.

Physical changes are perhaps the most frightening part of getting older

This is the area we have least control over, being at the mercy of genetics and luck. Rather than lock myself away in a room with a lifetime’s supply of kale and wheatgrass I am taking a more balanced approach.

I will keep my circulatory system healthy by filling my life with people and things that make my heart beat. For healthy lungs I will make every breath count. To look after my mental health I will be fearlessly honest with myself. I will move away from people and things that no longer bring me happiness. I will let go. I will allow myself to change and grow. I will keep my mind active, opening and questioning.

Vitamin D is important — I will fill my life with travel and sunshine. I will get plenty of sleep — preferably in tents and in places beyond even my own comprehension. I will wear sunscreen to protect myself from tropical sunshine.

I will use the best safety equipment available to protect myself, from motorbike helmets to my own inner wisdom when deciding who to give my heart to. I will take leaps of faith.

I will have sex. Lots of it. In beds, on beaches, and under the stars. I will practice yoga to keep me flexible and to help me find comfort in uncomfortable situations.

I will keep my head out of the sand at all times, however I will regularly feel sand beneath my feet. I will also at times have my head in the clouds. I will never be too old to dream.

What about practicalities, such as where I will live, and financial planning?

Again rather than spend my adult life selling my soul to the corporate machine, I will focus on creating the life I want my older self to inherit. I want to leave her with a store of memories, love and companionship, rather than a prison of stress and loneliness to escape from.

I will live in many places, but always outside my comfort zone. I will find shelter in those that believe in me, even when my belief in myself falters.

Time is like a currency, we need to spend it as best we can

I will put my time into the people and things that bring me most happiness. Living a life that is full and authentic is the best pension plan. What I sow now I will reap in years to come. It is also the best insurance policy against the inevitable sadness, which is an unavoidable side effect of being human. I will invest wisely. I will make my decisions with courage, wisdom and kindness. I will plot my own course rather than being the victim of circumstance. I will review my situation regularly, and I will never stay somewhere I would not have signed up for on day one, be it a job, a house or a relationship.

I will measure my life in experiences rather than my bank balance. I will collect memories rather than possessions. I will remember that the biggest gamble is putting off something that you can’t afford to do now, in the hope that you will have enough time to do it in.

I will take risks and make my own rules. I will fully value my life. I will create a life I don’t have to escape from.  

Comments on Fuck yeah, I’m getting older! My alternative anti-aging manifesto

  1. I’ve been having a bit of an off-and-on existential panic about turning thirty, so thanks for writing this encouraging manifesto (and OBB, thanks for posting it today; it’s a great 30th birthday present.)

  2. This is so moving & uplifting..as a woman in her early 50’s who still lives, acts & breathes as a youngster let me tell you age means nothing..it’s your zest for life, love & laughter that matters.

  3. This is beautiful, thank you so much for sharing! One thing that changed my perspective on aging was coming across a proverb of Solomon that says, “Gray hair is a crown of splendor, attained by living a righteous life.” It made me start looking at other things differently too – like thank goodness for my wrinkles for they mean that I have smiled and laughed a lot! 🙂

  4. Lovely post! I’m 33, but I usually forget and feel like I’m 10 years younger. This line in particular made a lot of sense: “I will focus on creating the life I want my older self to inherit.” This is such a nice way of thinking about it. I will have to keep that in mind!

  5. I’ve been saying for a few years now everyone gets older that can’t be changed. But growing OLD is a choice. Being old for me is no longer living life. Thinking everything that’s new is bad. Not learning new things. Allowing yourself to be defined by your limitations. Not changing with the times and always thinking society has broken down. As for me I can’t figure out when I became a so called adult. I always think I’m still faking it and just act mature but that I’m not really grown up yet. BTW I just turned 40 and as my bday present I dyed my hair with purple streaks. I like it so much that I want to do my whole head.

  6. This is beautiful.

    I am forty this year. I have never lied about my age. I earned every one of those years, and I want credit for them! (It helps to think of it as “leveling.”)

  7. Bahhahahaha–33 is not aging FCS. You can start several new lives from 33,you can fail at them numerous times and still have time to bounce back. You will possibly live to the expected age for a woman of 87 and as you are so young that age will probably increase. When you get to the last 10 to 15 percent of the aging profile you can moan about it–in the meantime, give your head a shake, do some physical exercise and quit you’re bitchin’ You have the time, the energy , the knowledge and the drive to change the world.

  8. This post is awesome! I’m approaching my 30th birthday and that really hit home the other night. I was at a rehearsal and we were discussing shows we’d love to do. One that came up was “The Importance of Being Earnest” and I realized that I am now too old to play Cecily. I may be able to pull off Gwendolyn but that window is closing. I was super sad for a minute. But then I thought … oh man … wouldn’t it be awesome if some day in the future I get to play Lady Bracknell?! So instead of mourning the loss of roles I’ve grown too old for I will instead have an awesome time with the ones I’m right for and look forward to the ones I’m still too young to play!

  9. Lovely overall! I’m an early-30’s lady too. I stopped dying my hair about five years ago to allow any silver streaks to take their place.

    I must disagree about the physical deterioration being what we have the least control over, however! I bristle at the idea of an inevitable decline. There are changes, but it is disingenuous and disempowering to suggest that we should throw up our hands and say oh well, it’s just genetics and luck.

    There is a LOT we can do to nourish and strengthen and improve our physical well-being as we age. We can eat the foods most nourishing to our bodies and we can practice the movements that we enjoy that make us strong and nimble, like the yoga you mention.

    All (wo)men must die, and sure we’ll get wrinkly, we’ll have changes if we reach old age, but we have a big say in what those changes are thanks to our physical choices now.

  10. I appreciate a lot of things about this post, and I also think that an avid, adventurous mind is a wonderful asset in aging. I bristle a bit though at the privilege of statements like, “Living a life that is full and authentic is the best pension plan.” I think there is a tremendous amount of value to working hard at jobs that you are perhaps not passionate about, so that you and your family can live without the stress of financial instability (which can age a person quite prematurely too!). Following your bliss has been the myth sold to the culture at large but overwhelmingly reserved for the educated and wealthy half. I’m all for it if you can do it! But piling on shame, intentionally or otherwise, for not “living your best life” on those who don’t have access to the opportunities of a lawyer is unjust.

  11. This is an awesome and very timely post that I especially needed to read. My 31st birthday is next week, and I feel like I’m still “recovering” from the unpleasant shock of turning 30.

  12. I loved this! Whenever someone complains about getting older I always say, “It beats the alternative” meaning death. Really, I’d rather get old by living then die because I don’t want to be old. I love the authors view on a life well lived and understanding what we have some control over and the things that we don’t. Great topic, great discussion.

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