We're never going to change society's view of aging if we don't admit to ourselves and to others that we are, in fact, growing older.
What is it about revealing our age that makes so many of us so uncomfortable? Do we think people will somehow think less of us because we have more years under our belt? And why are we so fixated on what other people think anyway?
Nearly 100 million people in this country are 50 or older. Worldwide, there are more people over 65 than the entire populations of Russia, Japan, France, Germany and Australia--combined. According to the US Census and the Federal Reserve, Baby Boomers in the US control 67% of our country's wealth. And we have more discretionary income than any other age group. Of course, not every older person has wealth. Or health. But there are a lot of us and, as a group, we can be pretty influential. So why are we so worried about people taking us seriously?
Maybe it's because we've let younger people decide what our society thinks is important. They decide if something is hip, trendy, attractive, or worth paying attention to. They even decide, for the most part, what our society thinks is substantive. And since younger people have a fear of aging (because they don't have the experience to understand what it is really like to grow older), we, the older people, figure younger people and others will pay more attention to us if they think we're younger, too.
It's one thing for younger people to misjudge the aging process, but it is self-defeating and frankly somewhat depressing to think older people play right into the myth that aging is something to avoid at all costs. Aging is inevitable, after all. It is part of the life process, and you can't become wise, experienced or truly mature without it.
So if you want to feel more comfortable with your own aging self, you need to start by being honest with everybody else. Aging is an important part of human development. It is, in essence, what young and mid-life people are working toward. And it is not, by any means, all bad. With age comes confidence, the freedom to be yourself, and wisdom that you can pass on to others. You need to be forthcoming about this, and extend the good news to others.
The more younger people hear that older people are okay with growing older, the better they're going to feel about their own aging. And that can be the beginning of society's acceptance of aging as a natural, even desirable process (after all, consider the alternative). As society takes more kindly to aging, that attitude will only reinforce our own, positive feelings about where we are in life. So tell your age, learn to feel good about it and see aging as the accomplishment it is. Then cancel the appointment with the plastic surgeon.