The dawn of ageing

The dawn of ageing

By Gregory Allen

Other than the inevitable progress of time and the appearance of grey hair, how do we know we are old, mature or a “senior”?

I’m sure we all remember the first time we were endowed with the adjective ‘old’ or ‘mature’, or entered into the brethren of Senior Australians by a well-meaning service provider. While there are a plethora of advantages to growing older and gaining awareness of that fact, the first few times your ageing status is reflected back can be confronting.

I have been faced with this new dawning of my ageing in diverse ways. In shops I have become “Sir” or “Mr”, which is fine if the intention is to show respect, but the intonation was more likely a condescending “How can I help you dear?”.

In no particular order of degree of surprise, let me share one week’s experience. On the bus a young woman offered me her seat (I think she was pregnant!), the barber offered to trim my eyebrows and advised me that I have a good head of hair for my age, the café staff gave me a seniors’ discount without asking, and the check-out person at Bunning’s notified me of the seniors’ day on Wednesdays.

All good and beneficial encounters, but why was I confronted? Do I view being identified as ‘ageing’ as an insult rather than a mere milestone in life’s journey?

It’s simple – at 60 I hadn’t viewed myself as projecting an image of an older community member. Through later introspection I realised that I was carrying a negative and outdated view of what being older was.

Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it… but I’m not that mature yet.

I think we all have our thirty-something voice in our head and carry our forty-something appearance in our mind’s eye, but I’ve learnt that it’s not only a mirror or reflective surface that reminds us of our age, it can also be a well-placed adjective.