I love the term “older-born”. I first heard it in Cesky-Krumlov, when a waiter said he didn’t like young Australians but thought the older-born (like the four of us) were OK.
Since then I have embraced the term with gusto, keeping an eye out for those who appear more older-borne than me; when they are still fit and active, it gives me hope. Contrarily, when I see older- borns who appear to of a similar age to me but look frailer, I congratulate myself for hanging in there reasonably well.
Of course, in other cultures, one doesn’t need to reassure oneself in this way. It is a given that along with ageing, one is entitled to respect, and that one’s life experience is worthwhile and can be of benefit to others. But the message today is that growing old is something shameful, something to be hidden, fought and avoided at all costs – and there are plenty of costs associated with pretending to be younger than we are.
So what are the benefits of being older-born? For me, I worry less about what others think of me. And this has enabled me to form more friendships than I had when I was younger. I have seen fads and fashions come and go. From diets to frocks, it’s often a case of been there, done that, so I am less likely to rush in and spend money or waste energy worrying about how I look.
I’ve given up colouring my hair, and love the freedom associated with looking natural. I have time to read – for pleasure as well as for self-improvement. And I get cheap fares in the local buses and trains. I’ve been able to travel in Australia and Europe, and to fulfil a dream and complete an Arts degree as a mature student.
It’s frustrating to have moments when I’m not sure if I’m coming or going, and its’s harder to remember names. My body takes a bit longer to get going in the morning, but so far, I’ve been free from major health problems.
it’s a bonus to be older-born in the age of social media. I can read and write blogs and political comment, laugh at jokes which go round and round various sites and keep up with the comings and goings of friends and family.
On balance, I think being older-born has a lot more going for it than dealing with all the pressures and responsibilities associated with paying off a mortgage and raising a family. I’m going to continue to enjoy whatever good and bad luck life throws at me for as long as I can.