It’s official; I am a senior citizen. At least, that is my new reality according to seniorliving.org. While the site would not specify an age range for seniors, it politely points out that once you turn 55, you start to enter the senior age demographic.
How did this happen? I just graduated from college. Okay, it was 33 years ago, but this doesn’t seem fair.
Fortunately, there are plenty of encouraging articles online about turning 55. I even learned how to stay “hip.” (Who uses that term anymore but people 55 and older?)
According to after55.com, all I must do to put the brakes on this running-out-of-time machine is stay active, get a makeover, flirt with random strangers, get a second job and “think young.” That sounds completely exhausting.
Instead, I will focus on all the discounts coming my way. I believe my local grocery store has “senior day” once a week for people 55 and older. Restaurants, gyms and major retailers are also ready to show a little senior love. That’s great, right?
I can move into one of those senior communities, too. You know the ones; nice and quiet with pickleball and no kids making a racket at all hours of the night.
Yes. Turning 55 could be a great time, indeed.
The thing is, the AARP has been after me for a while now. I don’t know how, but they find you. The AARP knows where you live and starts sending propaganda immediately after you hit your late 40s. I want people in their 40s to know this is coming. It can be a shock! There is one sure sign it is coming, too. One day you will be in the grocery store, trying to find a cereal with more fiber, when you suddenly notice a song that used to be your jam in high school is pumping through the speakers overhead. The tunes that once made you feel like a rebel will become grocery store music.
The funny thing is AARP stands for American Association of Retired Persons. You are in your 40s, still trying to figure out why you really need a 401(k) when these people start coming after you. It can all be so overwhelming.
I found some encouraging snippets about the benefits of reaching your mid-50s. This is also about the time when you stop caring so much about what other people think of you. In fact, you are at a perfect point in your life to be a true rebel, with or without Billy Idol blaring in your wireless headphones.
Hitting the double nickels is the time to just eat the lava cake, take the trip, buy the boat and tell toxic people to get lost without feeling any guilt. I can get on board with all of this.
The truth is, I still feel like 35-year-old Leslie, only with much worse eyesight. I have a few more wrinkles, a few areas on my body that gravity seems to be tugging on a little more, and gray hairs peeking out between my dark brown strands. I could never have handled that in my 30s!
These days, I have a much better sense of self – I will take that and love it. I may even call the grocery store manager and tell him to crank up the tunes.