Like most young people, I always wondered what it was like to be old. No one ever really gave me a satisfactory answer. When I asked “old” people what’s like to b old, I got “Hmmm… I don’t really feel different”.
Unlike here in North America, where being old is like some kind of terminal illness and almost everyone is trying to look “younger”, in Africa, to be acknowledged as an “Old woman” means you’ve arrived. You’ve earned the title of “Elder” or the “Wise One”. People listen to you more, pay attention to your needs more, respect you more, seek your counsel more etc. You officially become “Mother” to everyone, even men and women your own age, and older.
Now that most of my friends and I are entering the “Wise One” club, we find ourselves talking about what it feels to be “old”. For younger women reading this and asking”What does it feel like to be old?”. This is what it feels like to be an “old woman” (our version).
1. You wake up in the morning and you don’t feel a day older. Yes, it’s true. You don’t really feel “old” (especially in the mornings).
2. When you stretch and hear a bone snap into place, you think “Did I just break my back/shoulder/ knee?!”
3. When you brush your teeth and see them in good to perfect condition, you think “I’m lucky.” Then you imagine what you might have looked like if…
4. When you stand in front of a full length mirror you imagine how much younger you’d look if you just grab your skin by the folds around the waist and pull upwards… keep pulling… pulling… pulling upwards, grab a piece of cord and tie the extra skin on the crown of your head (like a pony tail).
5. You think of the distance between places in terms of “how many steps” from here to there.
6. You notice and enjoy the little and simpler things in life a lot more.
7. You feel more adventurous – less afraid to try new things. The words, “Life is short” make more sense.
8. You “talk to yourself” more often than you’d like. Occasionally you “hear voices” from the past and feel the urge to respond (aloud).
9. You suddenly feel “entitled to speak your mind”. In many instances you find your mouth running ahead of your mind. “Whatever!” you say to yourself. “It’s the damn truth any way!”
10. You listen to FM radio and think “Good music is rare to find these days”. Every rap song sounds the same –same beat, same words repeated over and over ad nauseum. Hard Rock sounds like a bunch of drunken instruments banging themselves – uncontrollably.
11. You see another woman in tears (crying over nothing) and you’re like “Women are silly!”
12. If you’re a girl’s-girl (girlie type) you giggle more and call other women “girl”. If you’re a guy’s-girl (tom-boyish type), you find yourself watching more sports channels and actively participating (seated on your comfy couch).
13. You see a really hot guy in his twenties/thirties — and you think. “Damn! I wonder what his father looks like. Is his mother still alive?”.
14. You start going to bed 30 minutes/one hour/two hours earlier than you did a couple of years ago. Just before you pull the covers, you tell yourself it’s not really age, you just feel more tired lately.
15. Your kids call you “MY old woman”.
16. And YES! You like yourself a lot more.
Now you can officially call me “Old Woman” or “the Wise One”. Thank you very much.
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