Remember that pre-teen phase, where your body was changing but your mind was either 5 steps ahead or 5 steps behind it? There were times when you still felt like a little kid and just wanted to go out and play with your friends and be silly…and then you’d have these weird thoughts like “Well, he’s a cute boy. Maybe I shouldn’t be so goofy around him.” Or, you’d feel very grown up one day and want to hang out with the cool teenagers, but they would just dismiss you as “a kid”. It was a very frustrating time. 

I’m realizing that there is another similar stage in life: pre-old. And I’m there. 

Equally as frustrating and mind-boggling as the pre-teen stage, I find that there are times my body is acting like an old person, but my mind is clearly telling me that there is some cosmic mistake, as I am NOT old. Just seeing or stating my chronological age sends me into a state of disbelief. How could this have happened? I swear I just turned 50 a couple years ago. Not to mention that I feel, in my head, like I am more in my 40s.

A large part of the issue is semantics. As a kid, being a “teen” was a term that held all sorts of glamour. What with social media these days, that has to be intensified astronomically. But being “old”….well, not a lot of positive images come to mind. Sure, there are euphemisms such as “senior”, “elder”, and “sage”, but they all point back to the same root word. The only time I enjoy those terms is on New Jersey Transit or Tuesdays at the grocery store for the discounts. 

The key to getting past all the negativity, in this situation and in many others, is to find positive role models. Look for those who show you a different way of looking at an age/stage. In my own life I am so blessed to have both my mother and my mother-in-law still vibrant at age 94. One has shown me that keeping your mind active keeps you alert and still interested in life. The other has shown me that keeping your body active keeps you upright and mobile and able to participate in life for longer periods of time. And having a sense of humor lessens the angst of aging. 

I also have many friends who are in their 70s and 80s – all vibrant and active. They have businesses and travel and fully participate in their lives. They are the new definition of aging to me. 

So, if you wonder why I have been so ridiculously active in the past year, it is because I have made a conscious decision to embrace life and do what I can, while I can. Comments have been made as to my energy level. Trust me, there are times when I could just live on my couch. But I know myself, and I know that inactivity for me keeps me in my head, and that is not a great place to live. If I have the ability to get out and move and meet friends and go to concerts and travel and be in the day, then why waste it? Life is a gift, at any age and stage, and it’s yours to embrace and define. 

Don’t let a number define you. Find your bliss – and go for it!