Clogging the Wheels of Age...

Friday, August 02, 2013

Do you remember when we were much younger, and everyone wanted to grow old fast? For the ladies, tons of stolen mummy's or aunty's make-up, wigs and mini-skirts helped in achieving this aim. We learned the cat-walk, the fish-pout, and the peacock-theatrics.

The guys adopted their own scheme for looking older as well. This became particularly necessary after Uncle Cupid has played a fast one on them by making their hearts begin to race faster for the girls in the same class. Unfortunately, the object of this juvenile affection would often surmise the affections for what they are: juvenile. So the brothers would employ tactics to seem more mature: carving their beards in a certain style; talking in Barry White tones; learning to wear a brooding look to appear 'deep' and wiser, even when they can barely tell the difference between an apple and an orange.

Ironically, the reverse becomes the case as time catches up with everyone.

Panic begins to set in with every birthday, particularly when you have not attained society's standard of accomplishments. Woe betide you if, unlike your contemporaries, you are not yet flashing an (ugly) engagement ring - and an even uglier wedding band - on your finger, with or without the continued company of a spouse (after the niceties of a wedding). It seems like some mischievous person circulated an informal memo on a secret chorus everywhere you turn: "When are you getting married?", "When are you building a house?", "When are you getting a car?" etc.

Suddenly the guys begin to think that hanging with the toddlers may by some stroke of magic, tranform them into toddlers as well. On the other side of the sapien specie, every 'young' lady you meet suddenly never seems older than twenty-five years old, even when it is obvious she's being harassed with 'hot-flushes' and other tell-tale signs of time winning the race. All these in the bid to buy more time, and slow-down the aging process.

Well, I was fortunate to meet a forty-five year old woman who never hesitated to tell anyone who cared listening that she was forty-five years old. But the shocker is that she could actually pass for thirty! She was kind enough to share some insights gained over the years. It is these insights that I have combined with my insights over my own 'twenty-five' (wink!) years of existence and have detailed as tips which I think would enable one stay younger, while slowing the ageing process. 

1. Exercise! Exercise!! Exercise!!! Often, I come across those gifted with the slender bodies, irrespective of what they eat (and I really beef lekpas o!). Most of them point out, as politely as possible, that they do not need the exercise. But the truth is that in addition to burning calories and weight loss, constant exercise also helps in increasing blood flow and keeping the skin nourished. Research and experience have shown that people who exercise dedicatedly end up looking much younger than their contemporaries. There is this glow which they continue to possess that slows the ageing process for them, and (like me) they stay 'twenty-five' for a long, long time.

2. Dress smart: Your look goes a long way in defining your age to people. Remember when you were much younger and used to wear tons of heavy make-up to look older? Well, it achieved its purpose then. Now is the time to reverse the magic. Toning down the make-up takes years off. Please, do not take this as an excuse to turn into 'Sista Martha' (except you honestly get the calling to do so). If you are 30 years old, you have no business dressing as though you are 55, and wondering why it is only senile widows who approach you. At the same time, you have no business to keep 'saggin' your jeans like an 18 year old juvenile offender. If at 40 years, you never wore those micro-mini skirts, then it's time to cross it off your bucket-list, because it just should not happen anymore. You have to dress age appropriate, yet smartly. For ladies, heels go a long way in helping out. Buy or make fitting clothes, but not so tight that they end up making you look like a beef sausage under your dress, especially if you're part of our 'Plus-size' ministry. For the guys, it is time to ditch the punk haircut. But don't go skin yet...unless you have early-onset receding hair foreline, in which case you can easily switch to the Taye Diggs look. Find something stylish, but classy. That way, no one is concerned with how old you are, because they are too busy being blown away by your sheer presence. 

3. What's your attitude?: Attitude goes a long way in ageing one, or giving an impression of how old one is. Are you cheerful, or generally dour? Do you view the glass as half-empty, or do you view the glass as half-full. Personally, I just want to drink the water in the glass (period!). On a serious note, don't you feel more easily drawn to more cheerful people than depressing looking people?? Yes. Does it bother you if they are 22 years old or 52 years old? No. This is because they just have that aura of youthfulness around them brought on by their attitude, which youthfulness we all subconsciously seek to tap into. Attitude also determines how you really feel inside. After all is said and done, age is really a thing of the heart. You can eternally maintain childlikeness in heart, without this being interpreted as childishness. It simply means that you will always be the spirited and positive person you were at 18 years, when the world seemed at your feet. This is despite your becoming 60, now equipped with the harsh reality that the world is divided into continents, and not at your feet. But that eternal youthful hopefulness is what maintains the spring in your step. This does not mean you should not be realistic and not face problems when they come. That's the idea: face them when they come, not conjuring them before they appear, or holding on to them even after they are long gone. 

4. Watch who you share feathers with: If you surround yourself with constantly depressed people, it does not matter if you have enough sunshine to light up the nine planets.  Well...except you're a psychiatrist and cannot help it. But in any other case, if your friends and/or family members consist of mainly negative people, it sucks the very life out of you and ages you faster. As a kid, you often want to hold on to your 'best-friend' in class for as long as possible. But with time, you realise that there really is no one true 'best-friend' (except perhaps, your life partner). It is important that you keep re-assessing the people in your life, and whether they fill you with positivity or negativity. If the latter is the case, then you need to diplomatically seek ways to gently disengage from such relationships. 

5. Carpe Diem!: I have learnt that one of the things which makes people feel, act and be old is looking at the younger versions of themselves, and seeing these versions do stuff which they never did. The regret sets in, and you start longing for that time. Rather than regretting the losses of the past, seize the moment in which you live, and appreciate the gift of the present. You will be 30 years old only once, and while at 30 you may be longing for the days you were 20 years old, remember that (by God's grace) you will one day become 50 years old. Then, you will long for the days in which you were 30 years old. So seize the moment, and embrace your present age. Revel in the present, and move on to the future.

6. Set your own standards and milestones: The pressure of 'ageing' is usually brought on by society and peers. We measure accomplishments by what others have. Especially in a society like Nigeria where 'success' is defined by financial wealth and outward pretences. For example, a woman's 'success' might be measured by how many times she went for omugo in her lifetimerather than how kind she was to the members of her extended family. My father always said to me as a child "Do not strive to keep up with the Joneses, or you will run into trouble". While I never got to meet Mr. and/or Mrs. Jones (and their probably amiable kids), I learnt the underlying lesson. Seek to achieve milestones because you want to, and because you derive joy from it. Do not feel compelled to fit into the box society has defined as success. Otherwise, the feeling of failure and 'lagging-behind' starts setting in, and this is the real culprit in the ageing process. Now it doesn't mean you should not make hay while the sun shines. The sun can only shine for so long, so please, do make all the hay you can. But at a pace which is most comfortable to you, and leaves you with a sense of self-accomplishment, rather than the feeling of being in a sprint competition in which Usain Bolt is among your contenders. 

With these few words of mine, I hope I have succeeded in equipping y'all with tips to enable ageing in a younger fashion. If you have other words of wisdom, or wish to shed further light on some of the things discussed here, please feel welcome to share your thoughts in the comments section. Paz.

Meg.

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1 comments

  1. Wow!!!!!!!! Sis you just said it all especially the marriage issue. I do not understand Why the society and more importantly our parents place soo much importance on marriage. Don't get me wrong, marriage is a beautiful thing with the right person (how do you even know the right person) and ofcourse with God but it leaves me with a question, Is marriage an achievement? Hell no its is not. The earlier we ladies understand this the better for us. It is about time we learn to channel the energies and strength with which we "pursue" marriage to developing ourselves intellectually, morally and spiritually. Time to find ourselves, know our self Worth and value. When we do this, we do not need to bother ourselves with this issue of marriage because it will find us. Now this is not going to be easily achieved but with determination, diplomacy and more importanly God it is feasible.Chidinma.

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