I recently went to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. At one point in the movie, Yiayia is dancing in the street, dressed rather oddly. This made me laugh, perhaps more than it should have and I leaned over to my daughter to warn her, “That will be me in 30 years.” Later that week, we went to a college performance of music inspired by Disney movies. While the band played an arrangement of “Bare Necessities,” I thought (as I frequently do when hearing live swing music) of my grandmother and her love of dancing. I thought it would be wonderful if she were there to enjoy it with me and wondered if she would have tossed convention aside and danced in the aisles in appreciation of the music. I continued my daydream that we would all join in and how much fun it would be for spectators and musicians alike.
If you know me, you would realize how fanciful these thoughts are. I am and always have been a rule follower and generally shy from the spotlight. I love to dance, as long as no one is watching. I wonder if as I age, this will change, if much like my verbal filter has started to fail, my self-consciousness will begin to fade away.
Pondering this more (yes, sometimes I think too much) I realize the blame for this rests on societal expectations as well as my own insecurities. Why do we concern ourselves with what others think? Maybe because sometime people tell us what they think, and it is not always kind. There are expectations of how people are supposed to behave and, like it or not, our age (or the age we appear to be) influences these expectations. A tantrum is understandable when one is 3, it is shocking when one is 8. In the same way, an older person can get away with speaking her mind or bending the “rules,” while one who is middle aged is expected to behave.
I guess as I approach my second half century around the sun, I am considering age more and what it means to me. I was raised to respect my elders and value the contributions they have made. I think that if one has lived well, there are certain privileges that come with the territory. I know many people fear the big 5-0, but I am ready to embrace it. My future is very different from my past, in some ways, I will have more freedom and I plan to enjoy it. Years ago I discovered the Red Hat Society, a social club for women over 50. Based on a poem, the idea is that the women get together, wearing a purple dress and a red hat. This type of zaniness sounds like fun to me, anyone want to join in?