I’ve found myself using this phrase a bit recently.
Am I too old for cute? I wondered about this outfit which I thought made me look a bit like I was off to ballet school this weekend.
Am I too old to be throwing myself around the floor on my knees I wondered when I strained my thigh muscle at Roller Derby practice this Monday (more on that sometime, as it is a “new thing”)
Am I too old to drink this much? Eat this food? Wear these stupidly high platform shoes? Read this book? Watch this TV Show? Ruffles? Bows? Pink?
I’ve just turned 34. I know, you can’t tell, right?
I’m sure I saw a grey hair lurking when I temporarily let my hair do its natural thing, and those lines around my eyes are definitely more noticeable than they were just a year or so ago.
But I don’t feel old.
Sometimes I feel like I didn’t even remember how to live till I was in my 30s. I know who I am now more than I ever did in my 20s (I’m really annoying, in case you wondering, I just don’t care as much now). I’m not afraid to wear stupid clothes in case people judge me. I’m MORE inclined to experiment, not less. That doesn’t mean I don’t care and it doesn’t hurt if people say mean things, just that I now have the tools to judge those comments on their merits, take what I need and discard the rest. Speaking to friends who share my advanced years, ones I’ve known since school and new ones, it seems I’m not alone.
So why do we consider experimentation the preserve of the young?
When I was about 13 I wore a lycra mini dress with 60s style red and yellow block squares on the bodice. I wore it with sheer tights and over the knee socks. I was recreating an outfit I’d seen on the teenage daughter in ye olde British SitCom 2point4 Children and I thought I looked the bees knees. Then 2 girls, girls in high ponytails and early 90s Kappa tracksuits, laughed at me in the shopping centre, and I never wore that outfit again. These days I’d have sneered at their poor fashion sense, whinged about them a bit on twitter, and then totally put that outfit back into my regular wardrobe.
Maybe 30 actually *is* the new 20.
In our (my) early 30s we’re doing all the things we should have been doing as rebellious teens and 20s, dying our (my) hair lilac, taking up new hobbies, experimenting with fashion. But in our teens and 20s we (I) were too busy trying to figure out how we could make £5 worth of ClubCard vouchers stretch to a whole weeks worth of shopping and whether everyone was looking at us thinking we were fat.
Are we growing up faster or slower, or are our teenage years just stretching out to meet us at either end? The papers are periodically full of stories about the “Death of Childhood” and how children are growing up too fast, but grown ups are spending their money on video games and Hello Kitty notepaper.
As it happens, I’m not sure I care. I’m desperately looking forward to being the sort of woman you see on Advanced Style. The ones wearing orange body warmers and hot pink cats eye glasses at 84, or wafting around an apartment in a kimono and red lipstick with a cocktail glass.
PICTURE by Anne-Marii
In my “not really advanced at all” old age I’ve realised that there are no rules and having the guts to try something new and follow your own path is what makes amazing people amazing. Just because everyone else has the path your life is supposed to follow mapped out for you doesn’t mean you have to follow it.
If you want to go sky diving at 70, then go. If you’re 35 with no children and want to watch Horrible Histories all afternoon then why not (as long as you’re not at work, otherwise you won’t be able to afford any more Hello Kitty notepaper)? And if you want to wear purple suede gloves and dangly earrings in your 80s then do it, because you don’t get any bonus points at the end of your life for having played by the rules.