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Age with Grace

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Date26 Oct 2021

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The author expresses her views on why growing old has become one of the main fears of today’s society, and accordingly guides us on how to accept this reality with the grace to value your own self and to live life happily. Whether in your home country or abroad, where fears like growing old might creep up on you even more. 

From fine lines on the face to greying of hair, the transition to old age brings changes in a lot of things in our life. And in today’s looking-young forever culture, growing old has been limited to just including skin regime to look younger. Is ageing really losing our youthfulness or is it diving into a new stage of opportunities and strength? A thought to ponder upon… As we progress, please do introspect and reflect on this question!

To simply state, the never-ending or unusuaI/ abnormal fear of Ageing/Aging or becoming older is known as ‘Gerascophobia’ (i.e., biological ageing of body or senescence). This term refers to immense panic among people about the occurrence of the degeneration process in their body related to their age and to being elderly. Gerascophobia is often used interchangeably with ‘Gerontophobia’, which is actually the fear of old people or elderly, and the latter originates from two Greek words, i.e., ‘Geronto’ implying old age and ‘phobos’ referring to fear (whereas, ‘Geraso’ relates to the idea of getting old). However, these two fears are interconnected, as the base is the same, i.e., old age.

We all have our own fears, but this 'fear of Ageing' comes from various deep-rooted and inherent factors. Mostly, as we cross the period of 20s, we start to look at life more closely, and then we realize that everything is moving so fast. This happens primarily because suddenly the society starts to see you from a different perspective. For instance, the beauty bloggers start to offer you advice on fine lines and wrinkles, the family begins to pressurize on having a perfect relationship or life partner, and the Self continuously questions you about becoming successful in life. At this time only your inner self tries to slow you down and reflect, but who cares?

It is believed that fear is also good to keep you safe. But at the same time, fear is used to maximize profit from the point of view of business organisations (such as those in the cosmetic industry, etc.), who know how to encash fear, especially the fear of becoming older and not staying/appearing younger.

The whole transition that starts to take place after the twenties should be embraced as “Age is just a number”. We all have been saying this statement… But how different our life would be, if we also start believing in it completely?

Fear of ageing, however, is not a new phenomenon as it is natural and happens with almost everyone. What troubles me is that the fear of ageing starts to pick up as soon as one reaches the age of mid-20s. Thanks to the world that has commercialized living to such an extent that growing old is now considered a stigma.

One of the most common factors that makes ageing worrisome is the way one perceives ageing. That is, one understands ageing as a process of decline, sees old people as a burden due to their inability to take care of themselves etc. In our culture, only because we condemn the whole concept of ageing that gradually as we age, this creates so much stress. But if we look closely, aren’t we ageing since the day we are born? Ageing is a lifelong process. Only because society has accustomed us to see the losses associated with ageing that we are unable to see the accompanying gains. In fact, ageing sets you free from so many boundaries, viz., you care less about what people will say and start valuing your own self.

Neither age nor ageing is stressful - it’s just that after a certain point we are unable to do everything on our own. To explain, in our twenties, our body is packed with energy and we are ready to conquer the world. But as time passes the present just remains in our memories. And each memory should bring a feeling of relaxation and not anxiety. The whole transition that starts to take place after the twenties should be embraced as Age is just a number. Reject the cultural notions and start to live your life as you want to.

“Age is an issue of mind over matter, if you don’t mind it doesn’t matter”, Mark Twain

We all have been saying the line that Age is just a number, how different it will be if we start to believe in it completely? Start seeing Ageing with grace and compassion, and how gifted you are to enjoy the process of Ageing. Half of the problem gets sorted the moment we shift our perspective.

As said by Jane Fonda “We need to revise how we think of Ageing. The old paradigm was you are born, you peak at mid-life and then you decline into decrepitude. Looking at ageing as ascending a staircase you gain well-being, spirit, soul, wisdom, the ability to be truly intimate and a life with intention.”

There is so much fear about Ageing because many people fear the decline of quality in life and fail to acknowledge the wisdom and experience that comes along with Ageing. Why do we give so much importance to working that if by any means we fail to work in our old age, that we lose our identity as an individual. Remember you are a Human being and not a Human doing. Keep giving yourself credit for the small achievements.

Ditch the timeline that you think your life should be following because everyone has their own timeline. As long as you have resilience and you keep moving forward you will reach there one day. And you are known for who you are and not the work you do for a living.

Start treating both your physical and emotional body as a temple. Eat good food, drink plenty of water, exercise, meditate and visit your doctor for regular health check-ups. According to research, people who live longest are from Okinawa, Japan. On researching further it was found that along with their physical needs, people of Okinawa gave importance to mental well-being as well. Every evening after work they meet for small social gatherings, leaving behind all the hate and grudges. They sing and dance in the parks and spend quality time with like-minded people.

As I write about ageing I realize I will be 40 soon. So many commitments to be fulfilled and so many milestones to achieve, with a smile on my face I realize that getting old is a reality and no one can escape from it, but at the same time I know the importance of self-love and I value myself as a person and will take that extra step to keep myself happy. It is just another time of becoming yourself. My small advice though would be to take responsibility for your age , don’t run from reality. It will help you value your older self and accept it as a part of the life cycle.

So the next time if just the slightest thought about Ageing stresses you, hug yourself and say “I am ready to embrace my pace of life and enjoy the journey“. Remember it’s all about accepting the reality. Stop shunning it away and your old age will be your best moments of wisdom and experiences.

Written by: Vidisha Singh 

June 2021

Vidisha is a certified counselor and positive psychology coach. She is a trained spiritual therapist and Early childhood Associate. She believes that every individual has special powers and through her sessions she makes them powerful independent souls. According to her every individual has a special power and mindfully tapping those powers helps in bringing them to the surface.

Cover Photo Credit: Oriol Casas - Unsplash

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