Although all of my online efforts are to help women embrace and own their age, there is something we can’t turn our backs on, and it’s that fear of aging is a fact. Even those of us who wear our age on our sleeve are, at one time or another, hit with a reminder that we won’t be midlifers forever.
My own age crisis at 25
To be quite honest, I’ve only had one big age-related crisis, that happened when I turned 25. On the verge of 55, I get it. My identity had been, up until that moment, that of a young woman. To me, back then, turning a quarter of a century made me realize, really realize, I wasn’t going to be young forevermore. It felt gut-wrenching and dizzying, like peeking over a cliff (I have a fear of heights). After that one crisis, I became too busy reaching milestones at big birthdays, so I didn’t have time to dwell. At 30 I published my first book, at 40 I had my second baby and at 50 I launched this website and also married the love of my life. At 55 I will get certified as a yoga instructor.
I believe that deep down, fear of aging is tied to other fears we don’t always voice. I hope this helps you, whether you’re 25, 30, 40, 60, 70 or beyond, to realize we can empower ourselves to forge ahead and enjoy life at any age. Here’s what we’re most likely afraid of and out we can face it:
Fear of illness as a result of aging
This is perhaps my biggest fear: falling ill and not being able to do everything I want to do, or being a burden to my family. The way I deal with this is by taking the best possible care of myself, physically, mentally and emotionally. I get yearly checkups (I don’t think I’ve ever missed one) and I go to the doctor when I have symptoms that persist. Many skip these visits out of fear of getting a horrible diagnose, but, if that were the case, isn’t it better to catch it in time? If we are proactive about our health, we can offset and even prevent age-related aches and pains and illnesses. This doesn’t mean we won’t get sick, but it definitely lowers the odds.
Also read: 5 Medical exams you need at 40
Fear of losing our physical (and mental) capabilities
The way I deal with this fear is by staying active. I feel fortunate that I took to exercising and sports from a young age to stave off anxiety and depression. It became a way of life up until today. My sports of choice have been running, swimming, dancing, weightlifting and for the past three years, yoga every day. When I’m on the yoga mat and feel how my breathing can lower my pulse and help me relax, I know I’m in the driver’s seat of my physical abilities. When I conquer a challenging yoga pose, I feel like a goddess. Fear of aging melts away when I achieve a new fitness goal. It’s never too late to start!
Fear of not having a purpose in life
A lack of purpose is lethal at any age. It’s ok to be confused and wondering what our purpose in life is. But it’s also our responsibility to figure it out. Give yourself chance after chance to find out what you would do for free, if money were not an issue. That which would make you feel useful, on task, that gives you a sense of forward movement and contributing to the world you live in. It doesn’t have to be something huge, but it does have to be something that matters to YOU. Once you find that, you will become ageless.
Fear of death
Most of us, to a greater or lesser degree, fear the great unknown, and that is death. I used to wake up crying when I was 7 and call out for my dad because I was afraid of dying. My father would come to my bedside and explain to me why death was necessary for the survival of the species. He also explained how people would never get things done – there would be no progress – if we felt we had all the time in the world. I mean, that’s why we need deadlines at school, college and work! I’ve dealt with this fear via spiritual practice and faith. In my case it’s not a religious practice but it could be. Anything that makes you feel you’re working towards improving your soul will help reconcile with death. I feel that when we’re at peace within, accepting death becomes easier. Not that my 101 year old abuelita is ready to go!