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This is How Hard Aging Has Hit Me

By Danielle Woodruffe

Danielle WoodruffeThis February - dare I say it out loud? - I celebrate my 40th birthday. If I remember correctly, I’m right at that point in time when society declares that divulging your age is suddenly taboo - or was that 30?

A few months ago, I found myself reminiscing, looking at old photos. Among these I found an image from a trip to Europe. I had just turned 30 at the time. There I was, perched up against a wall in some alley of France. I longed to be back there again – mainly for the food, but then the photo made me long for something else...to look that way again. This picture made me realize, for the first time, I am aging.

I did a quick comparison to a current selfie and it made me sink into a series of depressing questions and doubts: “What if the prime of my life is over?”, “What if I’ll never feel ‘young’ again?”, “What if people see ‘old’ when they look at me?”, “How can I start hiding these lines making their debut under my eyes?”

Yet those negative thoughts only lasted for a moment, as I remembered where my frame of mind was at the age of 30. Personally, I felt less sure of myself, less confident, and less experienced. I cared more about what people thought about me, and was less likely to hear wisdom, take correction, and be willing to embrace change than I am now. I concluded - I like myself more, not less at the age of 40!

About a week later, coincidently, the Facebook craze “How Hard Did Aging Hit You Challenge” started going viral.  When I realized how widespread this was, it occurred to me that so many are probably comparing the years and feeling the same self-deprecating, negative thoughts I did at first. Those that choose to take the challenge are sure to find the best photos of themselves and post them.  Many will choose not to post a ten-year comparison when they can’t find a photo that “defies” the aging process.

The reality is simple: we are all aging whether we like it or not. Comparing yourself to how you were ten years ago, based on your physical appearance, is futile. Why not compare how much you’ve changed mentally, spiritually, intellectually or emotionally? Aren’t those qualities that define a person much more than their looks?

I am blessed to be approaching this time of life as my company, Parker, has recently kicked off the #WithIt Movement. This movement celebrates life at any age. It recognizes a state of mind that you can have whether you’re 80, 40 or 20. People, without exception, are capable of greatness and can do amazing things at every stage of life. Whether climbing mountains at 70 or wheelchair bound in your 40s and finding ways “like technology” to celebrate what you can do versus what you can’t do, being #WithIt is about celebrating you at each step of your journey.

This month, I will not celebrate my age, but the life lessons that helped shape the person I’ve become at 40.  I’ll celebrate that “age isn’t hitting me hard” because it’s just a number. It doesn’t define me, but it has refined me!
Join me in celebrating the wonderful paths and experiences that only aging can provide – join the #WithIt Movement. Visit WeAreWithIt.org

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