How You Age is Up to You

Enjoying summertime boat watching with my son. Photo credit: Lee Schneider

How do you feel about aging? Are you inspired by it? Dreading it? Overwhelmed by it? Confused by it?

Chances are that you have some feelings around aging.

The pervasive cultural narrative has been to tell women that everything goes downhill for us as we age, and that for men, aging can make them more handsome, more powerful, more influential, and more rich.

Being the youngest sibling in my family, the youngest cousin in my larger family network, and always one of the youngest in my class all through school (September birthday, anyone?), I was constantly in the position of being “the youngest.”

For this reason, much of my life I have oriented toward being “young.”

Over the last couple of years, however, things have started to shift for me as I’ve felt less energy available from the demands and challenges of motherhood, hormonal changes have started to take place, and the shocking fact that college kids are 25 years younger than me!

(My 25th college reunion was this spring.)

I’m starting to take in the fact that actually I’m not so “young” anymore, and definitely not the youngest in the room in my personal and professional life.

In many ways, this has been incredibly empowering. I have a sense of “I have arrived!”

That’s a very good feeling.

On the other side, I have been challenged by the conscious and unconscious biases about women that not only reside in the larger cultural narrative, but also within myself.

For example, one that stands out is that I feel an incredible amount of pressure to “accomplish it all” by the age of 50. Anyone else have that one?

Fifty is the age we, as women, are told things typically go downhill. While I intellectually think this is a bunch of b.s., my physical and emotional body still hold some of this old narrative.

I am sure you know plenty of women well past the age of 50 who are shining in such a big way in their lives – both personally and professionally.

One inspiring example in my life is my client Beverlye Hyman Fead, who in her 70s became a documentary filmmaker and first-time author (of three books), and at the age of 83, took center stage to give her first TEDx Talk. And guess what she gave it on?

How we can change our perception about aging and cultural narrative that says “younger is better.” Watch here.

And of course, we see many public examples of women in their power well past the age of 50, including women like Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, Gloria Feldt, Eve Ensler, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Maria Shriver, Oprah Winfrey, Debbie Allen, and the list goes on.

So why still the “old story” running rampant?

“I’m sick of reading things that say they’re pro-aging and then advertise ‘anti-aging’ products, of articles aimed at our age group [40s] that focus on ‘how to look 10 years younger’ or of people telling me that ’40 is the new 20′ – I don’t want to be bloody 20 again thanks!”

This statement comes from Jo Macdonald, the founder and editor-in-chief of the new online magazine, Loving Life After Forty.

The truth is that there are still a lot of conflicting messages out there.

Jo is on a mission with her magazine to shift the conversation around aging, to help women see life after 40 as a time of great opportunity and change, and to highlight the incredible things that women over 40 are out there doing.

I recently sat down for an interview with Jo, and am excited to share with you that I am featured in the August issue as the Inspiring Woman of the Month!

If you’d like to take a look, you can read it here.

I hope that Jo’s magazine inspires you and empowers you around your own sense of aging. (Click below to view the magazine.)

Click to view magazine.

 

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Tabby Biddle, M.S. E.d. is a celebrated women’s leadership coach and well-known voice speaking out for the human rights of women and girls. She is a two-time United Nations Foundation press fellow, the bestselling author of Find Your Voice: A Woman’s Call to Action, and Leadership Ambassador with Take The Lead, a non-profit organization committed to empowering women take their fair and equal share of leadership across all sectors by 2025. Learn more at tabbybiddle.com.

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