The Female Use-By Date

Posted on January 17, 2017

There was a meme that did the rounds a while ago, something like “What if you wake up one day and you’re 65 or 70 years old and you never did the things you really wanted to do… ?”

I have to say it rankled a little bit, maybe because I’m within cooee (as the Aussies whimsically say) of that age (and am sufficiently not up with the times that I don’t even know for sure that “meme” is the right word for the above).

But also – yeah, WHAT IF that – that “wake up 65” thing?

Well, here’s what: when you wake up and you’re 65 and you realize there are things you wanted to do and haven’t yet, you figure out what the things are, you figure out how to do them, and you begin.

I wholeheartedly reject the implication that it will be too late to live the life you want, and I wholeheartedly reject the idea of a female use-by date.

The truth is, for decades I said, pretty often, things like “I may be sixty- or fifty- or forty-mumble, but most days I feel like I’m still 26.” (Yes, for over two decades it stayed at 26.)

I’ve always looked younger than I am, and I used to relish people’s surprise when they found out how old I was.

I used to joke that I was sure there’d been a clerical error in heaven, because I couldn’t possibly be as old as I am, though I could in fact account for all the years.

For years, of course, I wanted to be older. My sister is fourteen months older than me and in our childhood, for those two months when she was two years older than me, she would gloat.

Then one day it switched, and for the rest of our lives, it is I, being for two months two years younger, who can gloat, and, for some years, did.

When I turned 50 I coined the phrase “forty-ten”, but it really wasn’t to avoid fifty – it was simply an enjoyable play on words, but also it played into what was expected of me – I have usually been among the oldest of whichever group of friends I’ve been in, expected to play the game of desiring, clinging on to, eternal youth.

But, my friends, all of this has soured on me.

The thing I feel so strongly now is this – any time we fudge our age – any time we buy “anti-aging” products (how exactly do they do that, do you imagine?) – any time we allow fear, shame about aging to play any role in our lives – we are rejecting ourselves and all that lives within us.

Now, I have eyes. I cannot deny the thing I never thought could happen to me – my own invisibility and irrelevance in the eyes of the young.

I notice that eyes scanning a room don’t settle on me as they used to.

I observe a little too much deference paid to me sometimes by the young – I am, after all, old enough to be their grandmother, though I like to think they’d never guess.

But I reject the idea that we should consider ourselves irrelevant, and allow ourselves to be relegated back to the almost childlike status of being neither seen nor heard.

So I shore up what is within me – my bright and shining spirit, my utter conviction that I have worlds still to conquer, my clear and constant vision for my work in the world, my hard-won wisdom, the clarity and courage of my voice as I speak my truth.

I know all too well how easy it is for us to believe that we’ve missed our opportunity for our dreams and desires to manifest.

But you have not missed the boat, my friend. No – it awaits you at the wharf.

You are powerful and there is very little you cannot do, starting now or at ANY other time, including all the things that were on that list of things you would supposedly never be able to do upon waking at 65.

Write a novel? YES. Travel? YES. Learn to swim? YES.

And more, that they didn’t mention; create a life and work that you truly long for; conquer worlds and universes; find your voice and use it to change your world; step into your own power and flourish in every area of your life?



2 thoughts on “The Female Use-By Date

  1. tracy

    I love this! I’m right there with you! Got your name off the fb f**k it page. Every now and then I think who is this person… with the hurricane coming right at them… Thank you! Be safe!

  2. AliDuffey Post author

    Hi Tracy – so glad it resonated! The storm ended up whooshing right by us, thankfully. Thanks for the good wishes!


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