How old do you feel?
Yesterday I talked to a Russian client who is now living in Norway, via video chat. At the end of the conversation, she suddenly burst into tears. “What should I do next? I am almost done. I’m already an old woman, I feel like a grandmother!”
“What? You are only 52 years old!” I exclaimed, looking at her lovely face. “You look good; your son is only 12 years old. How can you even think of yourself that way?”
There is such a strong, unofficial public opinion in Russia that a woman after 45, and especially older than 50, is considered to be elderly. It is very difficult for them to find a new job, to go on dates, to be fit, even to try educating themselves in a new interest. Most do not even know where to begin, and many quietly give up.
“It’s time to cook borscht and babysit with your grandchildren,” is the consensus of society. I was surprised that having lived in another country for 15 years, Natalya still retained the same mentality that has prevailed in Russia for centuries.
I believe I have to keep my soul young. If I think I am young, I will try to keep my body in good shape. I tell myself to never consider, not even for a moment, that my time has already passed.
I refuse to believe it’s too late to do something extraordinary, or to start a new and exciting adventure. I don’t want to live in memories and past victories, I want to have new ones.
My attitude is that it is never too late to go somewhere you have dreamt of, to start a new business, to learn to play an instrument, take a new course, paint a picture, write a book or learn how to fly a drone.
My brother-in-law, Rob, just started a beginners’ sailing programme at age 67!
I remembered a funny incident related to my age. When I applied for work on a cruise ship in the on-board art gallery, I filled out various forms with my personal information and went through several face-to-face video interviews.
I was accepted to the position, and the HR department sent me my work documents for signature. I looked at the paper and could not believe my eyes!
They had printed the year of my birth as 1985, not 1965! They were convinced that I was 20 years younger! “I’ll take it!” I laughed.
At first, I could not understand why they made this mistake, and then it dawned on me. The numbers 6 and 8 could look very similar when handwritten.
The HR people didn’t even consider that at age 47, I would be applying for this job. Since the work on a ship is very demanding and there are no days off during the six straight months at sea, it takes a lot of energy. The employees are all young people.
As for myself, I didn’t think that it was too late for me to apply, or that I couldn’t do the job; I only dreamt of changing my life. I was the oldest person working on the cruise ship — even older than the captain — but perhaps the happiest one because I was sailing to new and incredible opportunities.
I imagine my age as a mile marker on an exciting road. I look back and recall how much has passed, but I face forward to a horizon shimmering with possibilities.
The journey has been full of surprises. There were many abrupt turns and fascinating detours. I consider the experience I gained my personal treasure, and the special people I met as jewels in my collection. I now look forward with joy and hope. I do not know what is waiting for me, but I know the road I choose will depend only on me.
• Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at www.ninalondon.com