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Why are We Afraid of Getting Old?

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One of the biggest compliments you can pay me is that I look 35 instead of 38. If it's 30 I'm top of the world - and it's probably in a club and they are half drunk.

So I'm turning 40 fairly soon and the big old question - about getting old - has raised its grey head. Especially as the having a kid issue is not resolved. And I'm starting to build a new career for myself.

Yet 40 is middle-aged, right?

I feel so energetic and vital yet my roots are grey and I now have creases in my brow if I frown too much (note to self to be less irritated).

My husband also has kids that are in their late teens and clubbing, dressed in Topshop or H+M and wearing eyeliner.

I still think that's me. It's hard to accept that they are half my age.

I also look at some of my friends who have had kids and are all worn out. Gone are the giggly shopping sprees, and in their place tea, if you're lucky, at theirs, sprayed with baby goo.

Its ridiculous. Why on earth do we not want to be our own age?

I seemed to spend most of my teenage years wanting to be an adult and now suddenly I want to slow down the clock.

Worse still there is a whole economy built on this fear.

We spend millions on face rejuvenating creams, hair colouring and cellulite busting gels. When we're not pasting any of the above on our bodies we are doing gym classes to attack bingo wings or bust our fat butts.

Yet that stuff is small fry now.

Botox, fillers and tucks are de rigueur. A little tuck here and there becomes a bum or a boob job. The results are Avatar-like - faces becoming more and more alien-like. When is it ever going to stop?

At the other end of the scale is the getting old means giving up mentality.

No more zest for life. Separate bedrooms. No more loud music. And living in the past - with phrases like 'it wasn't like that in my day'.

The fear is different from the youthseekers but it has the same foundation - fear of the inevitable - fear to go abroad in case you get sick, fear of noise in big city, fear of life because it may soon be the end of it.

Jane Fonda recently appeared in a French mag. She looked amazing - at 70. Ok, she has had work done - but most of all she puts her youthfulness down to her spirit and passion for life. Sex at her age is even better than before.

We currently seem to be stuck with two extremes. The Peter Pan syndrome or the Grim Reeper one.

Surely there is a balance and one that is based on feeling good in yourself, being young at heart. If we spent as much money nurturing our souls as we did our skin we might actually radiate more youthful energy.

Because ultimately when you meet people its not what they look like that determines their age. Its how they behave.

Certain people believe you have a natural soul age. Whether 5 or 55. It explains little kids who behave like little old men (one my best friend's kid is like this and just fired his nanny). It also explains the spritely oldsters who are still running marathons. Or, in my father-in-law's case doing a roadtrip across America in a snazzy convertible - the best way to deal with his bereavement is to just get on out there.

I actually think we can choose our age. We can be as childlike as we want or as 'grown up'. We can play whatever side of us we want to. Society has conditioned us to think if we are young we are free and when we get old we become tied down.

It's actually the opposite. Maturity brings experience of what makes us feel good or not. That's ultimate freedom from age. So go play on the swings or fly a kite. Or sit in a rocking chair.

Whatever makes you feel alive is the best antidote to wrinkles.

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