Do you feel your age? Or, like many of us, do you often feel much younger than you are?
Did you know everyone has two ages?
It is true! They can be the same, but most often, they vary. Read on to learn more about aging and how differently it can appear throughout life!
What is your age?
Each of us has a biological age. In most of the world, it starts from when you are born, day 1. But in some Asian countries, a person’s age begins in the womb and is calculated by “age reckoning.” Other Asian countries use your birthday as one, as it is your first year. You are two on what we consider your first birthday in their system!
Imagine being one when you are born! I don’t think most westerners will welcome that anytime soon! After all, as the old joke goes:
“The longest 10 years in a woman’s life is between 29 and 30….”
While some find that funny, it applies to men too!
The second kind of age everyone experiences is their subjective age. Instead of your physical, factual age, this age is dependent on how you see yourself in your mind. For most of us, it is how we experience life. This age can vary depending on how old you are, sometimes considerably.
To uncover your two ages, note your current age since birth and the age you believe you are in your mind.
If you are like most of us, you will feel your age or close to it the younger you are. The older you get, the more the disparity can become until you hit such an advanced age your body lets you know differently.
I can’t tell you how many people I have met over the years say they don’t feel their age. Many do not think they should be included in groups of people of a similar age, as they see themselves as younger than those “old” people.
There is a real benefit for older people who feel much younger than they are. Brain scans show that such people often show fewer signs of aging.
“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Betty Friedan (1921–2006)
Your subjective age
In many studies, “subjective age” is called “inside age.” This age, by either name, distinguishes how old a person feels relative to their actual age. It is also known as the age we experience as we get older, based on how we see our health, mobility, and cognitive abilities.
Most older people believe their age is 20+ years younger than their biological age. In fact, only 8% of people in one study felt their biological age.
I currently see my subjective age as being at my peak when I was about 35–45 years old (yes, that is young to me!) At that point in my life, until I retired, I continued to learn at a rapid rate, feeling very capable while possessing the knowledge and experience needed to do exceptional work.
“Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age.” Victor Hugo (1802–1885)
Your subjective age will change
Your subjective age is, well, subjective. Meaning it can change over time. Certain psychological and physiological issues may affect it. Those with poor health can feel older than their biological age, as can those who are depressed. Fortunately, by improving their physical and mental health, they can change their subjective age to feel younger again.
“Old age is no place for sissies.” Bette Davis (1908–1989)
As someone with a long life experience, let me share a personal example of how you may experience your subjective age in the future.
When I was very young, I knew I was young, and so far as I recall, I felt very close to my actual age until my late teens. It was then that that old rebellion streak hit. I was so full of myself that I felt like I was in my late 20s!
I recall hitting 30 and thinking how much I felt like a 20-year-old, even though some in society might consider me over the hill! Yes, a saying from the 60s kept ringing in my head that you couldn’t trust anyone over 30! Yet, at 30, my subjective age seemed to be nearly ten years younger.
The same thing happened at 40, but I felt more like a 30-year-old. The gap remained at ten years.
When I hit 50, I felt as good as any 30-year-old physically and sharper mentally. The gap had grown to 20 years!
Because I was so active when I hit 60, I felt as good as any 35-year-old and could outrun, outbike, and outswim many of them! The gap had grown to 25 years!
Unfortunately, when I hit 62, I suffered some severe heart attacks and spent two months in intensive care. Talk about feeling old! For a good year after, I felt like I could have been 90! After another year, my brain fog finally lifted, and I started feeling my age again.
Unfortunately, that mirror helps me keep myself grounded. You haven’t experienced anything until you look in the mirror and can’t believe you are that old. Live long enough, and you will experience it too!
Now, some years later (yes, I am getting up there!) Despite some physical limitations, I now feel as good as I did in my mid-30s to mid-40s. I am grateful to have recovered so well, and I hope I never feel my age again! I know it will revert at some point, but hopefully, that is a long way off!
May you live a long, happy, healthy life and experience the joy of growing older and feeling younger too.
“Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.” Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1850)
Like many of us, most people will experience the belief their subjective age is far younger than their biological age. Not such a bad thing, don’t you think?
The way phrases like “60 is the new 40” are thrown around, those of you who are younger people have great things to look forward to in your future. We older people benefit as well!
I leave you with an important insight to contemplate. May its wisdom sink into your soul!
“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.” Samuel Ullman (1840–1924)
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