I remember desperately wanting to turn 18. It had been my main goal in life since I learned to drive when I was 12. I couldn’t wait to get my ID and driver’s license to reach “freedom and independence” and, in turn, be eligible to vote. I didn’t worry about my age again until I turned 30. It was clear to me that I wanted to have my children before turning 35 because I learned that as women age, our fertility decreases and clinical risk for the baby increases if we do conceive. An aunt whom I adored, couldn’t have children and I was obsessed with the possibility that I would also have to deal with a type of infertile gene in our family.
My concern about age didn’t came back until one day, when I was 48, I had to make an extraordinary effort to finish reading a book.
I reluctantly began to use glasses to see up close and from thereon, I processed an inexorable reality for the first time: the unavoidable passage of time. It was like a relentless message which warned me that nothing would ever be the same; nothing literally would look the same. Age began to play a significant factor in my attitude towards the world.
I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that I do my best to get rid of fat that becomes more noticeable with age, and the wrinkles that continue to appear despite having the best skin care regimen and a healthy lifestyle.
I can honestly say that I have never felt so fulfilled, so happy and free from uncertainties and fears. I believe that I have finally achieved the true freedom and independence I longed for in the insolent years of adolescence; when one believes that the world revolves around oneself; but insecurity and disappointment surface with the smallest criticism or questioning.
One of the advantages of being 52 years old is that I care less and less about what others think about me, especially when what I say and do is consistent with what I think and believe.
I don’t have to do anything that doesn’t make me feel good. I cannot be manipulated that easily. As time went on, I became more calm and secure; so, I am now able to break one or more rules without being at the mercy of others’ expectations. I can enjoy life at my leisure and with the simplest things.
At this stage in life, one becomes more aware of the importance of time and the speed at which it passes. As never before, I am full of dreams and projects. I visualize them with greater commitment and confidence, without losing the passion which keeps me motivated.
I have yet to understand the nonsensical reason why revealing one’s age is taboo for women.
We have to fight against this crazy and unequal message from society that seems to give men the right to grow older while imposing on women the obligation of looking both young and beautiful.
Unless we fight decisively against this prejudice and reveal our age without shame and fear, many women will continue to be victims of all types of discrimination, including that of the workplace, which sometimes occurs when women are at the age of becoming mothers.
This reality holds true even in developed countries. Just last week, President Barack Obama signed a decree that requires companies with more than 100 employees to report to the authorities how much they pay their employees specifying both gender and race. I would have added age.
It is not a bad idea that our countries implement such decrees against employment discrimination and lower salaries for women that are embedded in business practices. Albert Einstein summed it up best: “What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.”