I was at a workshop the other day where most of the attendees were under 30 except for myself and one or two others.
One of the two others – a gentleman- had visible grey hair. Imagine my shock and indignation when the young presenter, while explaining a tricky concept to another delegate, said and I quote: ” if this old man can learn it then so can you.”
I mean seriously. I have seen “ageism” so prevalent in society these days that I want to scream in frustration.
Young people- and by young I mean those who don’t know of a time when there were no cell phones or Google, let me tell you a thing or two about us so called “old people.”
We have brains and we can learn anything we set our minds to. I can do multiplication in my head without the use of a calculator. I can make a lot of things from scratch, without feeling the need to YouTube or Google it. I know how to read and I know how to spot insolent Generation Zs when I see them. I might not be up to date with the latest gadgets or the social media apps but that is because I choose not to be. With the snap of my fingers, Allah willing,  I can go sign up for a class, learn and outdo you.
My body works, Alhamdulillah, and it demands exercise. So when you see me in the gym or the pool or a jazzcercise class it is because health is my priority – not because I am, according to you, starting to depreciate.
You are doing anything but honoring me when you pat me on the back with a “bravo!” for doing this “at my age” or for achieving that ‘for my age.’
When am out pursuing my dreams it’s because I have a right to and I believe in them. I know my dreams are as valid as my children’s. I encourage myself to reach for the sky the same way I support my kids to work on their own goals and ambitions.
You can call me Auntie or Yumma and I am proud that you showed me respect. But please don’t insult my intelligence.
I have seen and done more than enough in my life to explain every line on my face or any white that is in my strands.
There is no rule that says you should stop living or expecting anything good once you have crossed a certain age. If you have a pulse you have a purpose as a classmate of mine so eloquently puts it.
But I understand. I understand that others feel this way. I get it that they are eager to dismiss themselves as too tired or too elderly to expand their horizons or really live and be their true selves.  I guess it must be part of that low self esteem that I am always harping on about that is prevalent in our society.
” Old age ” is a mindset. You are as young as you feel.
For me, I might be past thirty but I don’t feel a day over 18. So get over it.

Najma Abdusheikh

I am a mother of three, born and bred in Mombasa. I write as a means of navigating through life's laughs and challenges. I see a better world for us but only if we believe ourselves worthy enough to work towards it. Find me on amombasamommy.co.ke

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