You Don't Sound Fifty-Three!

by Debra Gilmour • Member { View Profile }
Debra Gilmour, 53
Photograph: Colleen Cahill Photography

 A funny thing happened on the way to living my life.  Apparently I forgot to read a very important manual on "the how, what, and when" of living through the ages of human life.

You know the one.  It is that magic missive everybody knows of, no one has ever seen, and is referenced as often as is necessary to remind us of why we should not be doing this, wearing that, attempting something, etc. The one that says we have to cut our hair, throw out that cute dress, or otherwise quit engaging in an activity deemed off limits for one of the age of (fill in number here).  It is the rule book for how one should behave at each particular stage of life.

This would explain why, when I got down on the floor and interacted with my children at their level, eyes rolled and whispers of spoiling them as well as predictions of other more sinister outcomes could be heard from time to time.  Luckily both children in questions survived my parenting skills.  Both have gone on to become educated and productive adults despite my apparent lack of knowledge that my behavior was clearly off limits for someone of my age (twenty-seven at the time).

Perhaps this is what continues to affect me as I move merrily along into what is supposed to be, well, I’m not sure what this stage of my life is supposed to be because I have yet to read the manual of how to live my life at age fifty-three.  In fact, the older I get the more evident it is I am blissfully unaware of the limitations of my age.

Recently, I was faced with a moment that left me dumbfounded. I called for an appointment. I was asked my age. Very clearly I stated, fifty-three.

Asked to repeat the response, and assuming the receptionist did not hear my reply, I again stated my age.  To which she responded, "You don’t sound fifty-three!"

A number of thoughts began to rush through my mind.  Just what is fifty-three supposed to sound like?  Should my voice sound shaky, raspy, snippy?  At this point I was really hoping to somehow get my hands on a copy of this mysterious book of "all you need to know about the ages of your life."

It was then I came face to face with what so many of us do.  It is called a stereotype.

But how did we get here?  My research began in earnest.  What I found was astounding.  One such article revealed what many who have hit the age of forty and beyond have known for some time, confidence is a very important key to attractiveness.  Other studies revealed similar results.  Age and attractiveness are weighted differently by individuals of various ages with physical attributes being the key, the younger the participant.

Most of the limitations perceived for someone of my age are standards set by those who have not hit this wonderful age, yet.  They haven’t had that defining moment in life when one realizes it is not so much about seeking the approval of others, but about the assurance in knowing yourself.

Beauty is not just a measure of physical appearance.  It is a condition of confidence that radiates in a manner that cannot be bottled, or perfected in a procedure.  Hollywood has given us countless examples of this, young and not so young, alike.

So I will continue to go happily into the remainder of my life, void of the playbook for knowing what I am supposed to be looking, acting, and sounding like at (fill in age here). I am confident enough in myself to know beauty is not a condition of age, it is a perception of confidence in ourselves.

Apparently, it also resonates in one’s voice.

To learn more about Debra visit her blog at :

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