There obviously are challenges to age, but there also are advantages. And we’re not talking about particulars like finances or health. Neither should be trivialized, but in this piece we’re looking at the widespread worry most people have about getting older in general. Aging can lead some people to become very depressed and others very bitter. Those notions hold true particularly in the LGBT community,where youth is almost worshiped.
We are an ageist society. If you don’t believe that, take a look at any newspaper or magazine and note the models. Do you see anyone in their 50s or above? How about in their 40s? Maybe in the AARP publications, but in “GQ”or “People”?
What about the movies? When actors hit 40, they begin to play grandparents. Hollywood has its own mindset on age but, unfortunately, it does influence the way we think. Take a look at all of the popular reality shows. The overwhelming majority of “real” people are young.
This is a cultural problem across all of America, not just in the LGBT community. Countries like Japan cherish and respect their elders. While we can’t change cultures, we can change personal mindsets on age.
To those worried about turning 30, get over it. You’re still young. And, by the way, your looks, which many are obsessed with, often improve between 30-40. You can still have the six-pack, but you’ll just have to work at it a little harder. But, you could also use some of that time to develop a relationship or bolster your friendships. They can and will endure, while youth will not. Chasing youth will depress you since you cannot possibly capture that invisible fountain.
When you reach your 40s and 50s, find ways to really care about something, and work towards that to fulfill your life. If you attempt to chase age, you may be drawn to plastic surgery and cosmetic changes and have to spend more time in the gym. However, the gym can be time well-spent: You can keep fit and also have a chance to socialize.
If you take these lessons, by the time you hit 60 you can have good close friends, watch your projects begin to pan out and be in decent shape and in a relationship that brings companionship and maybe more. You can appreciate not only what you have accomplished but those projects that are still in motion and still a challenge. You can look forward, while those chasing youth are still looking behind at something that will never be. MSNBC has a slogan that is intended for political purposes, but it works in this capacity: Lean forward. n
Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.