I Am a Perennial



I recently came across an article in The Guardian, entitled Why Women of 40 and 50 are the new ‘ageless generation'. The article talks about how the term ‘middle age’ is becoming obsolete; that the decades of 40, 50 and 60 are beginning to blur - they’re now coined ‘Perennials’. You just can’t tell people’s ages anymore because those in that age bracket are more engaged, collaborative, open-minded and curious than ever before. But the more important question is, does age - as a number - even matter?

I know it doesn’t matter to me - and I’m 43. I’m just entering this ‘ageless generation’ but I don’t feel like I’m 43. In fact, I barely feel 30 - seriously. I’m probably in the best shape I’ve ever been, I feel energized (well, except when I’ve done cross fit (OMG never doing that again). I’m doing things that I love, I'm surrounded by people who are just as passionate and living life on my own terms. I’m much more confident than I ever was when I was actually 30 (read: I don’t give a shit what you think, I’ll do my own thing, thank you for your ‘advice’) and actually walking away feeling empowered. The little things don’t bug me any more - life is too short to let stupid stuff ruin your day. Travel is something I try and do often and not wait until I’ve ‘worked hard’ so I can ‘retire and finally enjoy life.’ I’ve unfriended people who are toxic in my life or are those who I used to walk around with eggshells to ensure they’re happy. Those people don’t enrich my life at all - so I don’t waste precious time on trying to cater to their needs and wants. I now totally understand when people say that the 40s are the new 20s. Other than the odd grey hairs popping up and the fine lines on my face, life is good. Really good.

I was 18 when my mom was the age I am now, and I remember looking at her and dreading the concept of growing up. The generational gap between her and I was so clearly defined - in her attitude, her demeanour, her outlook and perspective on life. She voluntarily counselled me (regularly) on the formula for a successful life:  getting a degree, finding a man, being a good wife to take care of him, finding a job, buying a house, settling down to have babies, raising them to the best of our ability (i.e., following the same formula) then finally retiring and enjoying life. 

Did you notice what happened there? 

How did ‘enjoying life’ get bumped to the bottom of the list? That was intentional - Mom was quick to emphasize (over and over) that you’re only allowed to enjoy life when you retire: that was the payoff of all those years of hard work and sacrifice.  

I recently had lunch with her where this topic came up and so I asked the follow-up question: How do you feel now about what you told me all those years ago? 

“I realize I was wrong. I wish I travelled when I was younger - when I had the energy. I notice how you seem to do what you want to do now,” she says with a strong tone of regret. Hearing her say these words made me sad and disappointed for her. I know that she has it in her to live life on her own terms, but back then it just wasn’t socially acceptable. 

Cultural norms have shifted dramatically in the last couple of decades, especially in North America. Those who are now 40, 50 and 60, grew up with this rapid pace of change over the years and are adapting much faster than their parents ever could. To be adaptable and agile is to grow - and I can’t imagine myself not growing and learning every day of my life.

To feel like I’m part of an ageless generation goes well beyond just my appearance. Yes, I'm often wearing hipster kicks and the latest tee and tattered jeans, but that's just window dressing. Truthfully, it’s being able to authentically capture the essence of life, learning from others, feeling fulfilled and share it with those who mean the most to you. That’s what I feel is the ultimate elixir of youth.

I'd like to hear from you. Do you know someone who is a Perennial and would you agree with the article's description? Or are you a Perennial and can identify? Share your stories here or DM me.