Life, the Universe and Everything: Ageing

driegeneraties by berendbotje54 on Flickr

When you’re a kid, you can’t wait to get older. Someone asks your age and you always answer in a very precise way, because you think that 7 sounds so much younger than 7-and-three-quarters. As a teenager, you want to be old enough to have sex, to drive, smoke and drink. Even in your early 20s, someone thinking you’re older is often quite flattering. However, once you get past 25 the pressure’s on. When social media and mainstream press are filled with so many attractive and successful people who have not yet been alive for a quarter of a century, it can be tough to not think youth is everything.

We Can Do It! Lori photographed by Matt ChristieIf youth is so desirable, of course that means age is the enemy. The aspects that everyone always talks about when it comes to ageing are what twenty-first century Western society perceives as the negative stuff, particularly when it comes to the body. We’re always urged to fight the signs of ageing – be they wrinkles, sagging flesh or aching joints – with lotions, exercise and supplements. Look more youthful… BE more youthful! Being young is, apparently, all that matters.

Nobody wants to be viewed as dusty and lifeless or world weary, but what it’s very easy to forget is that this is actually all about attitude. You can be 80 years old with skin to match, but a lust for life and positive outlook will shine through. Constantly saying that you’re from a different generation or that the world used to be a better place in your youth is not going to win you any friends or make you feel good. Fight your own negativity and the perceptions of others – ageing can be a truly wonderful thing.

What rarely gets mentioned in mainstream discussions about ageing is the really bloody good stuff. In the past ten years I have begun to realise that the wisdom and confidence that comes with age is well worth trading your youth for. When society is so obsessed with pert young flesh it can be tough to see that what you’ve now got is not worse, just different. Our brains are beautiful wonderful organs and we should celebrate them more, and I aim to do just that. With age comes experience and we can all learn something from that. It’s a fantastic feeling when you realise that there is more to life than just being really ridiculously good looking.

Main image via berendbotje54‘s Flickr photostream. Portrait of lipsticklori by Matt Christie Photography.

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Image from a tour of the UAL Archives & Special Collections Centre