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Life Begins

When age stops being an excuse

February 8, 2017

So I recently turned forty. Yup, the big 4-0. But I’m not cueing the death march just yet. I’ve not procured myself a burial plot or finalised my will. Life actually seems like it’s about to start for me. It’s the beginning, not the end. And that excites me.

When you’re in your 20’s and younger, 40 seems ancient. Our parents were probably in their 40s then. The next generation. But now it feels different. Perspective and all. But turning 40 seems different than being 39 for me. Maybe it’s because I have big plans for my future or maybe it’s a feeling of being grateful for what I do have now. Whatever the reason, I have a newfound respect for where I’m at in life and I’m embracing it.

I’m not where I thought I would be at this age. Who really is? We grow up with wild fantasies of what we want our lives to be like when we grow up, but do we really work at it? And if we do, do we end up sacrificing the living in the now to achieve the elusive goal of the future?

Do we adjust our sails when our dream goals change or do we just stick to the same path despite how unhappy it makes us, because of that shangri la life we envisioned when we were too young to know any better? When things don’t turn out how we planned, do we crumble, get angry, think about all the life we wasted, or do we seek a better tomorrow?

I find myself taking on a new perspective on life at this age. My mantra this year is “F**k it, I’m forty”. I’m brushing away the things that hold me back or keep me in fear of moving forward. I’m standing by my convictions and not letting what others do upset or deter me from my goals. I’m learning to let go of not being perfect or caring what others think. I’m in a place where I know who I am and what I want. This is my liberation. And this is just the beginning.

You don’t need to wait until you’re forty to experience your breakthrough. Whatever age you’re at, can be your turning point. You just need to know what you want, make plans to make it happen and don’t let anyone steer you from your goals. It’s time to take action in our lives. Instead of waiting for things to happen to us, we need to take steps to make them happen for us.

Age is just a number after all. Just a reminder of how precious life is. Not a scorecard to compare with others or an indicator of what you’re “supposed” to do or how to live. We’re not here to live up to others’ expectations or to conform to society’s stereotypes. Ageing is not a disease or an affliction. It’s whatever we make of it.

There are people in their 80s and 90s doing things that most of us can’t. At the age of 94, Florida resident Edith Traina could powerlift 135lbs despite having lung disease. She started training at 91. Her goal is to powerlift 200lbs by her 100th birthday. At 80, Ernestine Shepherd is the world’s oldest female bodybuilder. She started going to the gym and training in her late 50s and started competing at 71.

What about Jeannie Reimen, the oldest female race-car driver at age 90, Edith Murphy who was the oldest female waterskier also at 90, Johanna Quaas who’s the world’s oldest gymnast at 86, and Sally Hille, who at 94 is the world’s oldest professional DJ? And who could ignore the effervescent Iris Apfel (featured) – business woman, interior designer and fashion icon at the youthful age of 95?

Instead of relenting to the customary sedentary lifestyle of which society expects from the elderly, these extraordinary women have gone out there and defied the rules and achieved incredible feats. So what’s your excuse again?

We need to stop letting our failures, shortcomings, anxieties, our past or our age dictate how we are supposed to be or who we’re supposed to be in our future. Every day is an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and become the person you were born to be.

Let’s not waste anymore time wondering what if or why me or why not me. Let’s not complain about lack of time or what we don’t have but instead appreciate the time we do have and what we can achieve. Life is short and it’s only getting shorter. Time is too valuable to waste on things or people that don’t fit with us anymore.

We need to do a life declutter and focus on what’s really important and the people who are really important in our lives and let the rest fall to the wayside. We need to reevaluate our goals and make sure we’re on the right path to them. We need to appreciate how far we’ve come and what we’ve achieved in order to believe what we’re capable of and what we’re worthy of.

There’s no time like the present. We don’t need a New Year to resolute. We don’t need the stars to be aligned in any particular order. Start now and make changes. Let’s not look back ten years from now with feelings of regret or apathy. Let’s live a life of enthusiasm and excitement at what it holds and the possibilities it reveals. Because f**k it, life begins the moment we step up and take the reins.

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