Okay, I admit it – I subscribe to the Peter Pan view of aging. That wonderful character conceived by Scottish novelist and playwright James Matthew Barrie, Peter Pan is a boy who refuses to grow up, spends his everlasting childhood in fictional Neverland, and teaches young Wendy and her brothers how to fly (escape).
In today’s pop psychology the notion of someone with “Peter Pan Syndrome” has a negative connotation — a person who is socially immature and who shuns responsibility.
Yet, who really wants to grow old or be perceived as old? Who doesn’t want to be carefree and without responsibility? Who wants to be at the age or stage when retirement is no longer a far-off notion, but a very imminent reality?
I still remember my grandparents who lived in California taking me to the beach there when I was a kid and goofing around on surfboards. Didn’t someone forget to tell them they were too old for that?
Yet the signs that age is catching up with me are everywhere.
The other day my husband and I went to the movie theatre and we were asked whether we are seniors entitled to the seniors’ discount. Perhaps I should have been happy at the prospect of saving a little money. Instead I felt a combination of indignation, shock and anger at being asked. Neither my husband nor I have reached that golden 65 years of age to officially be considered a senior. Do we look older? Have the ravages of time caught up with us?
Similarly, on the subway, I absolutely hate when someone offers me their seat. It’s happening with recurring frequency lately. I don’t need a seat! I am not frail!
And, of course, there are the newbies at work – you know the ones who remind you how old you are by complaining that they are having the milestone birthday — turning 30. LOL!
Does anyone really want to be part of the aging club and accept that time is catching up with them?
Turns out, I am not alone in my feelings. The article “How to Market to an Aging Boomer: Flattery, Subterfuge and Euphemism” describes how companies these days have changed the ways in which they market their products and services to the baby boomer consumer. Their approach begins with the premise never to remind boomers that they are getting older. This has had a significant effect on the way in which they market the likes of diapers, shower grab bars, medic-alert alarms, food and more…
Would being identified as an older person offend you? Do you have a story to share?