I’ve never been one to talk about how old I am. Unless you know me well or you went to school with me, you probably have a good idea of how old I am, but you also probably don’t know for sure. Quite frankly, I’ve lied so much about my age throughout the years, that I often have to do the math to really know how old I am. True story.
I think I have an aversion to talking about my age because many years ago, I knew a gal who appeared to be much older than she really was. I worked with her, and I saw how people respected her and her decisions on a daily basis. She was a top-notch employee, worker, problem-solver, etc., however, when other employees found out she was a mere kid in here early 20s (compared to the rest of us), I saw how people treated her differently from that point forward. It was then and there I decided that age did matter to some people, and I would never be one of those folks who divulged my age, unless I had to.
That scenario happened in a different state more than 20 years ago, but it has haunted me for quite some time. While I learned never to judge a book by its proverbial cover — whether it’s a brand new cover or an old aging, tattered one — I know many others don’t subscribe to that thinking.
I’m bringing up all the aforementioned nonsense now because January is my birthday month. That’s right ... I’m turning another year older, and even though I just recently did the math and realized I’m a year older than I thought (no kidding), I want you to know my age is kind of like my weight: If you ask me, I will lie about both, and I’ve already rehearsed my reasons for these untruths when I ultimately get to the pearly gates.
I don’t mind telling you I used to struggle with birthdays. There was just something about wanting (maybe needing) to retain my youth that made life seem so out of control every time another candle was added to my cake. Quite frankly, after I passed that 29-year-old mark (Sorry — I know some of you might be shocked to realize I am older than 29!), I began to detest the month of January. I actually hated receiving birthday cards/gifts because it just reinforced the getting-older reality. After all, youth was a dear friend, and I never wanted those invincible days to leave me.
Fast forward a bunch of years, and life changed in a way I wasn’t expecting. In 2007, most of you know I received a diagnosis from several medical teams which severely changed my outlook — not just on birthdays, but on life in general. That’s right. Nearly six years ago, I had doctors look me in the face, and without blinking an eye, they told me my birthdays might be numbered. Yes ... I know all of our birthdays are numbered, but I was faced with the all-too-real fact that my birthdays might end quicker than I had planned. Reality slapped me across the face.
It was at that point in time when I had to take a long, hard look at birthdays. In the blink of an eye, a birthday — an opportunity to turn another year older and add another candle to my cake — well, let’s just say it was just that ... an opportunity. Since that diagnosis, I’ve added six more candles to my cake, and I’m extremely appreciative for each one. And from what people much smarter than me tell me ... I’ll continue to add a candle every year for many years to come. All of a sudden, birthdays are my best friend.
So as I get ready to turn another year older, I just thought I’d let you know that growing older is truly a privilege I’m come to appreciate. Bring on the candles, the cake and even the ice cream.
Because after all, I’m still going to lie about my weight ... and how many candles are really on my cake ...
BCR Editor Terri Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.