Don’t tell me what to do!

Sam Harrington-Lowe founder of Silver Magazine www.silvermagazine.co.uk

Silver founder Sam Harrington-Lowe is finding all the advice a bit much…

Reading up about Fenella Fielding this morning, on hearing of her death (90 – a good innings but not the recognition she should have had, I think), I came across this little screengrab of some work she did with artist Martin Firrell.

 

Fenella Fielding OBE artist Martin Firrell photo Wikicommons

Artist Martin Firrell, image Wiki

 

And aren’t they just. In fact, the older I get, the more ‘advice’ I’m getting. This week I’ve been told by do-gooders in the news that people my age should drink less, for example. My Facebook feed is literally filled with sponsored posts about ways to look younger, and as for the health and fitness advice out there. Don’t get me started.

All of this is very well-meaning, I’m sure. But I’m not five; I’m nearly 50. And actually, I’m pretty happy with where I am, cheers.

With being 50 has come something of a new sense of freedom. I never worried about stuff much as a child – and by stuff I mean, like how I look in this dress, does my bum look big, will they like me, am I doing it the right way? etc – and refreshingly I find this ‘not giving a fig’ attitude is returning.

Hand on heart I can’t say I’m entirely free from self-critical behaviour, not at all. But I definitely have a stronger attitude, and with this comes a huge sense of relief. Not just relieved in an ‘about bloody time’ way, but how relieved I am to be a bit older.

How freeing it is to let go of the ‘perfect look’ and just be happy with what I’ve got. And actually be massively grateful to be here at all. I’ve lost many friends already. I hope others share this revelation as they age too, because I’d really like them to feel this relief and freedom. It’s utterly liberating.

And it came to me. I really like the way I look. I was looking at the photographs – not whether my arse looked giant

I had some photos taken recently for a PR campaign. The 20- or 30-something me would have been picking over them afterwards, looking for faults. Worrying about the double chin or the angle of the shot – is it flattering? Wondering if that one made me look fat. What the actual F is happening to my hair in that one, etc? You know the drill.

And it came to me. I really like the way I look. I was actually looking at the composition of the photographs – not whether my arse looked giant.

I’m not perfect, but actually that is exactly the point. Being physically perfect has absolutely ceased to be my focus, and wow, I love that.

I’ve had an unbelievably exciting life over the years. Sometimes amazing, sometimes truly terrible, but never boring. And you can see that I think. I like the character in my face.

I like my bone structure, and I like the way my face isn’t symmetrical. And as for not having a perfect body… the fact I’m still standing after the gruelling hedonism I’ve asked it to take on is something I’m truly grateful for. Wow, but the liver is extraordinary, isn’t it?

More to the point, as I age, and lose friends and family to illness, disease and crisis, I know just exactly how lucky I am to still be here. I have a spare tyre? Christ, in the grand scheme of things that is so microscopically unimportant. Pass the port.

The last thing I want at this time in my life is for other people to be telling me what to do

It’s far more important to me these days to look and feel healthy than worry about wrinkles and baggy bits. And I cannot tell you how lovely that is. And the last thing I want at this time in my life is for other people to be telling me what to do or trying to give me new things to worry about.

Moving into later years there is a huge sense of letting go of the pressure we put upon ourselves. I’ve spent most of my adult life being dissatisfied with the way I look in one way or another. Depending on how good my mental health is, that can be picking at odd small things (“I hate this mole”) to literally not being able to stand seeing myself in the mirror, and crying in clothing shop changing rooms.

I’m not going to ask why we do this to ourselves. It’s obvious – apart from the pressure around us to look a certain way; being young and hot is what attracts people to us in our youth, in our breeding years. To imagine the focus will ever change on the glory of youth is unrealistic. But with that beautiful youth comes so much pressure, and it’s beyond liberating not to feel I’m in the competitive scrum any more. The sex soup.

I know that with our knowledge of nutrition and fitness I could ramp up my routines and have a body like I used to have (or more honestly, like I wanted to have). But I’m also totally behind those flexy, sexy silver gym bunnies who make their health and wellness a religion; good on you, seriously.

There’s a poignancy that comes with the passing of youth, like a sigh in an empty room

But this is about choices, and just as much as I choose to have a glass or wine or too much cheese, I uphold anyone else’s right to have that green smoothie, or do that tough mudder at 70. Just stop telling us what to do.

I’m aware that many people find the move from young to middle age a really hard transition. And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling blue about it sometimes too. There’s a poignancy that comes with the passing of youth, like a sigh in an empty room. But speaking purely for myself, that kind of passed around 47. It helps that ‘being older’ is the new cool. And it really is. Just look around.

There are more people in the UK over 45 than under.

I would really love to hear from readers about their own experiences. There is an absolute tidal wave online championing the silver army. Here at Silver we want to know about you – we want to hear your triumphs and your disasters, your joys and your fears.

Get in touch. Comment below, or Tweet or post on IG with the hashtag #silveristhefuture
You can also find us on Facebook – get involved in the discussions. We read all the comments
Photo of Sam by Erika Szostak

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