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Notes to self: I’m not old

Globetrotting writer Gaby Doman reflects on the everyday ups and downs of being a modern woman

Tabloid

I’ve made a bit of a mid year resolution; I’m going to stop making jokes about being really old. Firstly, because I’m NOT really old – I’m 32, which is only considered old to teens that don’t remember life before smartphones. I can live with that. Secondly, it’s a joke that kind of falls flat because it just makes people feel uncomfortable. Even though I’m clearly not old, so the correct response would be to laugh uproariously, but I digress…

I never felt old at all until I started working in a company where the mean age is about 24. It’s fair to say that, compared to their up-all-night antics, my life of work, gym, yoga and a soupçons of socialising is a bit old ladyish in comparison, I concede.

I don’t know why it happened but, as some kind of defense mechanism, I started cracking jokes about how much of an old lady I am. You know, dry jokes about how I’m a spinster who’ll die alone or that I can only sleep for four or five hours at a time because I’m elderly now and that’s what elderly people do. I decided enough was enough when, last night, I was chatting to a 23-year-old gym buddy about his new diet.

He told me he’ll have to supplement it with cod liver oil, B vitamins, iron, magnesium etc, etc… and I replied “well, I’m in my thirties, so I need all of those to just get out of bed in the morning”. He nodded, sagely. I panicked a bit that he accepted so readily that I’m crumbling fast into old age and that it’s only supplements keeping this old girl ticking along.

Of course, I’m not decrepit yet and, so far, although I am possibly more reliant on a carefully balanced concoction of caffeine (to have the motivation to go to work) and melatonin (to turn my brain off enough to let me sleep) than I used to be. Other than those two vices, I don’t need much more chemical intervention to function as a human than these young ones do.

But, I do think a lot of what you say shapes people’s perspectives of you. I use the ‘old’ thing as a cover up for the fact I’d rather get up early for the gym than go out all night and feel terrible the next day.

Sure, age is probably a factor – in that my interests have changed somewhat – but my lack of energy isn’t. I could, instead, paint myself as a dedicated athlete but, somehow I don’t feel believable playing that part (my own insecurities, I guess), so I’d sooner paint myself as a boring old lady. But, the more you say something the more other people – including yourself, start to accept it as reality.

Being in my thirties has definitely changed me. I rarely stay out all night. I rarely forget to eat veggies all day. I rarely skip the gym for an impromptu night out. My priorities and interests have changed. I take more supplements because I place more emphasis on my health, I skip parties because I would genuinely rather be training with my gym friends and I will take the salad over that burger because I prefer salads. Which was definitely not the case 10 years ago.

So, yes. I’m stopping painting myself as a boring, old-before-her-time spinster. Instead, I am a young, vibrant athlete who’s dedicated to her sport, likes to eat well, hang out at the gym and loves to get eight hours of sleep.

I mean, I never said I was cool – just that I’m not old.

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