Of a Certain Age

I did something yesterday that you’re not supposed to talk about:

I turned 55.

When my father was my age, he had gout, arthritis and high blood pressure. Fortunately. I’m much healthier than my dad was at the same age. I take care of myself better, and I also seem to take after my mom who fought cancer like most of us would fight a cold, will probably outlive the cockroaches in a nuclear apocalypse.

However, I share my father’s enthusiasm for what I do. While most of his cohorts were ready to retire at 55, he worked until his late 60s until he was too sick. I’m also not ready to retire.

But ageism is real. I found this out when I was job hunting two years ago. A few companies turned me down saying they were looking for a “cultural fit.” That’s fair. I think if the chemistry isn’t there with a potential candidate, there’s not much you can do. Fortunately, I didn’t give up and I found a company in which there was a cultural fit.

While you can’t really fight ageism, you can defy the preconceptions. Those might include that those over 50 can’t or don’t want to learn new skills or adapt to new processes, especially if they’re put forth by those younger than they are. I know people in their 40s who refuse to learn new skills. On the other hand, my mother knows people pushing 100 who are learning new technology. I personally try to learn a new skill or try something new each year.

As the saying goes (it’s been attributed to Mark Twain and a few others): “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter”.