I find it fascinating, the older I become, how increasingly clouded my perception is of younger peoples’ ages.
I sometimes think, when I am on the road, the driver in the vehicle behind me doesn’t actually look old enough to own a car licence!
Or not long ago I was in a high school gymnasium after school hours, trying to work out which switches turn on the lights I needed to prepare for a taekwon-do class.
A young man happened to pass me in the corridor, whom I stopped and asked if he attended this school and possibly knew his way around the switch board?
He nodded yes, as he found the appropriate lights, and then proceeded to tell me he taught in this school, with a puzzled look, questioning my comprehension.
He had every right, as I honestly believed that he was a student, which I quickly attempted to hide, feeling completely embarrassed that I even thought that!
I’ve often pondered over how quickly life happens.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was celebrating my 21st birthday, travelled and lived overseas, met the love of my life etc.
So many memories that seem like only yesterday, yet the years have flown by at great speed.
The interesting thing is, my body may not bounce as well as it once did, however I still ‘think’ like I’m in my 20s (hopefully with a little more wisdom thrown in)!
I mean, how am I supposed to think in my 40s? Or how should I think in my 50s, or even 70s? I’ve often wondered that!
I have nursed in aged care facilities in the past and have had the privilege of meeting some wonderful, elderly people, with whom I’ve shared many engrossing conversations.
They graciously opened up and gave me a glimpse of their extraordinary lives.
These people were fortunate to still have all their faculties about them, except their bodies had grown older at a quicker rate than their minds.
Sadly, some were in palliative, due to terminal illnesses, and I was honoured to have the opportunity to care for them.
Usually it was during the night shifts, when peace wasn’t their friend, that I found more time to engage in meaningful conversations.
Each person had amazing and interesting life journeys to tell and once they began to disclose, the age gap between us dissolved.
We were just two people having a raw, philosophical conversation about life. It was very special.
I would sometimes embarrassingly observe how some care staff would talk to these people as if they were young children, almost belittling or talking down to them.
I would make a point, in private, of suggesting to the staff member to imagine, just for a second, the roles were reversed and they were in the elderly person’s shoes.
How would they want to be treated? Aren’t we all equal worth and deserve the same respect, regardless of age?
As a matter of fact, these elderly souls have lived through so much more than us and can, no doubt, teach us a thing or two!
We just need to take the time to listen.
So, if I am engaging with a group of young people, I wonder how they perceive me?
Do they think I’m old and wouldn’t understand their world? Or rightly so, am I now classed as old within our community?
I’ve realised I have no self-concept of age. I’m just me! I don’t know if I look old, or act old or how I am portrayed to the outside world. However, it really has no importance anyway!
I’m just me and I am happy being ‘just me’, and I will endeavour to grow old gracefully, continuing with my ‘20s’ thoughts.
I have no desire to compete with anyone (but myself), nor do I wish to indulge in any available, physical (expensive) assistance to attempt to look younger than I am.
I love my character lines, in fact I’m proud of them.
They’re part of my journey and remind me every day of the wonderful times I have been privileged to experience.
I am actually very thankful that I have made it to this age! Sadly, many haven’t.
I am who I am and this sits comfortably with me, as I am unique … just as you are.
Camille Hullick, Middle Tarwin.