Breaking Free From An Ageist Culture

There is a major issue in our current society which is stopping any of us reaching our full potential and being truly happy. Something which causes us to judge others, but most damagingly, to judge ourselves. To label ourselves unworthy, unprepared, or in some way unequipped to reach our goals, or to make our dreams come true…

The word ageism generally conjures up visions of the elderly, and its true, the way our society treats our elders is nothing to be proud of. But look closer and you will see, the ageist views don’t stop there. In fact there is no group in our society which doesn’t face some form of negativity.

We love babies, but promise mothers that it will get easier and more fun as they get older. Then our toddlers get labeled terrible and people say “It was so much easier when they were tiny.”

I care for a four year old who tells me that soon she will be five…and then six, as if that is the magic number where it will all get better, where life really begins. She tells me regularly that the younger children are only one, only two, only a baby and therefore can’t do this, can’t have that…

Eight year old’s want to be twelve, twelve year old’s want to be eighteen so they can be counted as an adult. Then at eighteen you think “When I’m thirty, maybe I will be more confident, more self aware, more responsible?” At thirty you wonder what you are doing with your life, “Have I done enough? I can’t believe I am thirty already…” You wish you could go back to fifteen again, fantasise that your school days were the best of your life. You dream of retirement when you can break free of your shackles and really start living!

Forty becomes the latest thirty. They say life begins at fifty but the people in their fifties are striving for the thirties again. They try to hide their age, slapping cream on the ever increasing wrinkles, dye the gray hairs, wear the latest fashions.

50 turns to 60, Now they are saying “Its too late, where has the time gone? I would love to but I’m just too old for that sort of thing now”. Everyone around you picks up on your self defeat, maybe you are too old…? 60 turns to 70. You have convinced yourself the game is up and your family stick you in a home to see out the rest of your days. You dream about your youth, the things you did and the things you didn’t. You console yourself with the fact that its too late now. You accept the way things are.

What a depressing picture this paints. Does any of it sound familiar? How is anyone supposed to seize the day, live in the moment and fully accept and love themselves right now, just as they are?

Let me tell you something now, something simple but true that we all seem to ignore –

The age you are right now is the perfect age for you. Stop putting off your dreams and making age based excuses, just enjoy this moment in time. Lets all stop disregarding the feelings of our children “because they are too young to know whats best for them.” Lets listen to them, hear their voices and give them the respect they deserve. Lets trust them so that they can trust themselves.

Lets stop writing off our elders. Lets learn from them, hear their stories, gain from their wisdom. If we didn’t treat them as outcasts of society, we wouldn’t fear getting older ourselves, dreading what will inevitably happen to us. We would accept each year as it comes, enjoy our evolving maturity and approach it with positivity. Lets accept ourselves and everybody else right in this moment, just the age we are.

Lets look today in the face and smile.