I have a problem: I act younger than my age. The thing is, I don’t know how to act my age. Of course, I’m a responsible adult with a job, a car, and an apartment — and I pay my bills on time. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve never let go of the things that “younger people” do — like sipping bottomless mimosas at brunch, making out with random dudes in bars, singing karaoke, dancing, wearing over-the-top outfits, and going to rock shows — which studies have shown can actually help you live longer. These things make me who I am. And more importantly, they make me genuinely happy. So, why should I forgo them in favor of doing things I’m supposed to do at my age?
If you’re in my same boat, here are eight reasons why I think you shouldn’t defy the “rules” and not act your age.
1. Age is just a number.
Has your life ever been exactly how you thought it would be at ages 12, 16, 21, 25, or 32? Probably not. In my case, I was tall and skinny with braces from ages 13 to 18, so as you can imagine, my high school experience wasn’t exactly a teen romance novel. From ages 23 to 32, I was in a serious relationship, which was certainly a surprise to me. And I never thought I’d move to L.A. — especially at age 34. Every birthday, you get another year older. But no matter how hard you try, you’ll never be in the exact place you think you’ll be at a particular age. The easiest thing to do is just be yourself at every age, without any expectations.
2. It’s never too late to try new things.
There are so many amazing things in life to see, do, and experience. And the really awesome part is — no matter what age you are, there’s always something you’ve never tried. You just never know how old you’ll be when you get the opportunity to experience it. There’s no set age when you’ll visit Barcelona, fall in love, try Korean barbecue, get your book published, or learn how to surf — all for the very first time. You just have to be open. The absolute worst thing you can do is give yourself an expiration date. It’s never too late. For anything.
3. You can keep doing what you love.
All of your activities, hobbies, and interests make you who you are. So, you shouldn’t give those up just because a number suggests you’re too old for them. For example, Halloween is my favorite holiday. So, as long as I can keep coming up with comically morbid Halloween costume ideas, I will continue to wear a costume every year. And so far, I haven’t run out of ideas — from a Disgruntled Owl Mascot to Carrie (the blood-soaked telekinetic prom queen) to an Old West Woman Trampled to Death by Horses to Tatum from Scream. Trust me, I could go on and on. At this rate, I may still be dressing up at age 73.
4. You’ll actually look younger.
Who says you have to have an “age-appropriate” style? I’m sure the fabulous Queer Eye crew would facepalm themselves and give me an “Ugh, I can’t!” But in my experience, I believe you can still dress for your age without putting a number on it. In other words, if you’ve got amazing legs, keep rocking short skirts. If you want to dye your hair pink, do it. If you dig biker jackets, why stop wearing them when you’re 65? (Hey, Jeff Goldblum makes it work…) In other words, if you can pull off looking younger than you are, then don’t let your style make you look older.
5. Other people will think you’re younger.
Sure, having good genes, applying sunscreen religiously, and avoiding cigarettes can help you look younger. But why do some people just seem younger than others — even though they’re probably older than they appear? It’s because they squeeze all they can out of life. People are always shocked when I tell them how old I am. Probably because I’m the lady in the short dresses and Converse who sings Snoop Dogg and Queens of the Stone Age at karaoke. If you just be who you are and do what you love, your inner happiness will give you an outer youthful glow.
6. You’ll feel younger.
I’m sure you can remember a time when you did something crazy or challenging that made you feel alive. When you do things that make you feel good — like taking an unusual workout class or exploring a new city alone, you also feel younger. Feeling younger is a mindset. It’s a decision you make just by choosing to fill your life with new, offbeat, random, or goofy experiences. If you give up on enhancing your life with these things, that’s when you start to feel worn out and old.
7. You’ll attract like-minded people.
Friends, coworkers, potential significant others… If you simply own all the things you are that aren’t necessarily “age-appropriate,” you’ll connect with other people who’ll love who you are, regardless of your age. If you have the same things in common, it doesn’t matter. They like you for you. Just be yourself, and you’ll always attract others to your joy.
8. You can fully enjoy the confidence that comes with age.
There were things that I hated about myself or obsessed over when I was in my 20s. But now that I’m older, I don’t even care about them. And according to a Lifetime Daily study, Americans in their 50s have the strongest sense of confidence in how they look and feel. You may actually even appreciate the very attributes about yourself that you used to hate. That’s one of the best things about getting older. If you’ve outgrown your past issues, you deserve to let all of that confidence that comes with age shine through. Love who you’ve become — no matter how old you are.