health

"I’ve been 36 for about 6 years now." Why I have always lied about my age.

I’ve lied about my age for as long as I can remember.

When I was 13, I pretended to be 14 and eight months so I could get a job, and at 15 I was driving my parents’ car. I remember being down at Rosebud carnival one year, telling a group of boys that my friends and I were 18. We weren’t. We were just approaching 15, and acting oh so grown up.

At 16, I pretended to be 18 and went clubbing with my aunties and this upscaling of my age continued well into my twenties. I’ve photocopied friend’s licences and used high tech equipment such as liquid paper and a laminator to create a fake ID, all in a quest to be older. And let it be told that being older opened so many doors for me… mainly nightclub doors.

I pushed the nightclub and pub scene pretty hard as a 17 year old (sorry, Mum and Dad). I had moved out of home by 20 having already graduated from a Bachelor of Commerce Degree. And, by the age of 24 I was managing people 30 years my senior.

“I lied to be taken seriously.”

This fast forward lifestyle saw me lying about my age again. But this time I was not lying to party. I lied to be taken seriously. I felt my age let me down. I held way too much responsibility for a 24 year old in a Strategic Marketing and Change Management role.

Seriously, who was going to listen and change their behaviour because of the programs I launched? Seriously, what would my 24-year-old self even know? I doubted myself while managing millions of dollars of other people’s money. Feeling like a fraud, I thought if I was older I would hold more authority. And it worked.

“At 28, I had my first child and I felt super OLD.”

Fast forward a few more years and at 28 I had my first child. Life in the fast lane came at a cost. For the first time in my life I felt OLD. Tired and burnt out. The lies began again, but this this time in reverse. When I was 30, I told people I was 26. Why? I actually don’t know. It was a good year, though. At 36 I was 30. And at 40… well let’s not even talk about that. I’ve been 36 for about six years now. Even my son was fooled up until recently.

turning 40
"At 36 I was 30. And at 40... well let’s not even talk about that." Image: Supplied.
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"I'd get anxiety when people would ask me how old I was."

When people would ask my age I would get a hot flush... anxiety would take over and I’d be disappointed and embarrassed by the truth. I’d either lie or dodge the question. Sometimes, I would joke that I was not good with numbers and for some time there I actually did forget how old I was.

BUT.

This morning something happened. I went for my usual morning run. And literally got struck by lightening. Well, not really but it felt that way. A week from now we will be celebrating my son's 14th birthday. Amazing! Then, lightening strikes, and I realise that means that I'm going to be FORTY bloody THREE in less than four weeks.

How do I feel about that? Well, for the first time ever, I didn’t cringe at the numerals. If anything, I felt kind of proud of myself and thought you know what? You're doing okay.

My legs can still run the distance and I'm grateful for that. Even If I have to wear a pad, just in case I pee myself now, I figure that’s just mechanics and I have two beautiful children to thank for that. Ouch!

turning 40
"I got married for the first time at 40 and had my second child at 41." Image: Supplied.

"Strangely I feel happier about turning 43 than I did 40."

I took a selfie, to check my almost 43 self out and saw a sweaty me who was so happy to be out for a run and active. Me, complete with laugh lines, crows feet. I noticed I’m starting to get that dint in between my brows. But, for the first time in a long time, I really liked what I saw - and I’m not saying that because I’m vain - quite the opposite. But more so that this 43-year-old body tells a story and I’m more than happy to accept that.

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So, strangely, I feel happier about turning 43 than I did 40, and I’m still trying to work out why.

I think it’s because I don’t feel as invincible anymore. I’ve grieved the loss of more people that I've loved and I’ve had a few health scares myself. I truly understand the impermanence of life now and I don't wish it away.

In a way, I’ve also defied age. I got married for the first time at 40 and had my second child at 41. Some will think I was too old, some will applaud, others will be indifferent. It was not planned this way, it’s just how things have turned out for me and my heart is the fullest it has every been.

turning 40
Image: Supplied.

I now realise that age is irrelevant.

And it seems the older I get the less I care about what people think of me. I don’t need to be serious or older to earn respect. I can be me.

Of course, I want to look my best and I want to feel strong and vibrant and I work my butt off to make this happen. But I also know now that the pathway to your best life isn’t the route of denial. It’s about owning every moment. Staking a claim in right now. It’s getting rid of beliefs like..."oh I’m too old to make new friends or dance on the table". It’s about loving your tribe hard, making your children (if you have them) smile and embracing the age you are.

So for now... I think 43 suits me. Perhaps I’ll stay here for a few years.

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