Why don’t you act your age!
I’m guessing that’s a phrase many of us have heard on occasion and perhaps even used ourselves at times.
We may have even been aware of parents nearby, desperately trying to cajole their teenage children into acting more responsibly and behaving less childishly, possibly even wishing sometimes times that they’d do so with rather more vigour!
Sure, there are times when fits of giggles, temper tantrums and stubborn behaviour are both embarrassing and inappropriate but do we really want to have such an ‘act your age’ mantra constantly playing in our children’s minds and colouring their outlook on life?
A recent survey of 2000 adults for retiresavvy.co.uk revealed that many of those polled felt that Brits should aspire to a certain level of decorum and restraint when they hit certain milestone ages in their lives. The respondents felt that tattoos were inappropriate after 38, mini-skirts after 39, as indeed were selfies and trainers. All had ‘sell-by’ dates attached, including having a favourite boyband beyond the age of 36. Plus, apparently, we’re not supposed to stay out after midnight once we hit the ripe old age of 52!
Dear me! Many of us are living longer and it’s certainly going to feel that way if we allow all these restrictions to rule our lives.
Fortunately, many of us don’t listen to the, you should’s and you shouldn’t’s uttered by others and choose to live our lives as we see fit. If we’re not causing harm or offence, why not! And if our grandchildren have to get used to us jumping onto the swings in the park or enjoying reruns of kiddies’ TV programmes, so be it!
Most of us don’t want to cause distress or be responsible for upsetting someone, but if we feel that they’re being over critical or judgemental we may have to rein in being too sensitive to their reproaches and remonstrations and say, ‘enough, that’s their problem’ as we start referring to our own standards of what’s acceptable.
But what about our youthful sense of wonder and fun. Where does it go?
I guess for many people, life gets in the way. Having to think about career progression, paying the mortgage, the responsibility of children, all can cause stress, anxiety and mean that there’s little energy or enthusiasm left after a day at the office. Different priorities have to take precedence at certain times of life and they require that we act our age.
In addition, over time we’re introduced to many new experiences which impact on our tastes, colouring and influencing our likes and dislikes, all helping them to evolve. We, no doubt, hope that growing up will expand our horizons and we’ll ultimately become more sophisticated in our preferences.
Social media is a factor that has to be considered too, as it’s used extensively these days. So much of life is photographed and posted, where it remains for all time. Anyone can see those images, including potential employers and those doing background checks. It’s important to be aware of the need to act with care, mindful of the potential for permanent records of any transgressions or random behaviour to be made. It’s often a useful piece of advice to bear in mind.
The business networking site, Linkedin, is mentioned in the survey, with those polled feeling that 53 is the appropriate age to quietly withdraw from using the site. It’s true that the aim of such a site is for members to convey a professional, grown up persona as they look to form business connections.
But is professionalism defined by age; is it really such a significant factor?
Where does this self-limiting outlook on life come from?
Does anyone you know feel strongly that other people should adopt specific age-appropriate behaviour?
Yes, excessive public displays of affection or loud, boisterous outbursts might be disapproved of, but that’s more to do with the behaviour, rather than the ages of the ‘offending’ parties.
I have a friend of ‘a certain age’, who regularly changes her hair colour, working her way through every possible pastel shade. Her dress sense is quirky, vibrant and out there, an eclectic mix of vintage and new, accessorised with interesting jewellery, belts, hats, scarves. Seeing her creations brightens everyone’s day. And, her age? Irrelevant! I doubt anyone even speculates about it!
Could it be that we unthinkingly form our opinions of what certain ages should or shouldn’t do, as we start out in life absorbing the views of parents, teachers, media representations. We react, rather than question our responses. But as we get older and interact with others we become more independent in our thinking and learn to modify those views, so becoming more accommodating and less restrictive in our approach to life and living.
And who doesn’t at times enjoy letting go of their inhibitions and playing with children, building sandcastles, having games of hide and seek, dancing like no one’s watching. All are excellent ways to release stress and engage in some uninhibited fun. Reconnecting with our younger self, our inner child and being silly is an important way to maintain ongoing mental and physical health and celebrate the joy of being alive.
Susan Leigh, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She’s author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.
To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit www.lifestyletherapy.net