GERASCOPHOBIA...The Fear of Ageing

We live in a world that is obsessed and beautiful; faced with profound fear, loneliness and depression that your best youthfulness is behind you.

What if you could change your perspective in aging?  What if you could bring back the joy you felt in your childhood, adolescence, and your youth? Often our preoccupation with the loss of our transition fun days prevents us from welcoming the changes and mystery the journey ahead presents.
This gerascophobia is inherent in ladies. How did you react the last time someone pointed out you have a strand of white hair? You noticed fine lines and wrinkles on your face which were never there? Or your birthday is approaching? Did you feel a slight dash of panic or did you think aloud “Oh no, I’m growing old”.

 Have you ever noticed how some women are afraid to grow old? Fear of aging and the fight against it, is now de rigueur in modern society. Asking a woman her age (within context) is now considered a taboo.

We are conceived, birthed and go through various stages of development, but one day bam! The rug is literally pulled from under our feet – and we realize that our sweet 16, 20s and 30s are over. This realization comes when you least expect it: When you are just coming out of the shower; while you are dressing up with a mirror and by chance you catch a glimpse of your face in an unflattering light. 

This continuous, complex and dynamic process that begins with birth and end with death need not be feared. And unless we die young – God forbid, we will all grow old. So why not age gracefully, it is just nature taking its course.

We live in a society that is ruled by predefined aesthetics of beauty. Women are fed certain images and ideas about beauty that encourage us to try and stop the visible signs of aging – this obscures our judgment and perception of beauty. Females in particular are more concerned about their looks, and this worry starts from an early age. I could remember discussing birthdays with one of my friends many years ago, and this heartfelt comment from her grabbed my attention “I don’t want o grow old”. But why? Why do people feel so adverse towards the phenomenon of aging? Mention the word “aging” and the immediate emotional connotations that get wired up are fear, sadness, negativity, aversion and helplessness. This fear stems from the following factors:

Being undesirable
Most people see fine lines and wrinkles, laugh lines or frown lines with a sense of negativity. These are linked with “ugly”.
Sickness, pain and suffering
Most females fear aging because with old age comes increased probability of sickness, decreased physical activity, medical conditions as dementia (Alzheimer’s disease), cancer, heart disease etc. these are seen to come hand – in – hand with pain and suffering.
Being lesser than who they should be
Everyone have goals and dreams. When you were younger, you would have consciously or unconsciously envisioned yourself being somewhere at a certain age. Reaching a certain age reminds you of your visions and triggers the realization that they are not where they want to be.

Being alone
People see old people as a burden and they try to avoid them. At that stage, everybody tries to shift responsibility and giving reasons like they are too busy. Old age tends to bring solitude.
Losing the vigor they once had in engaging in so many activities as well as loss of shape due to changes inherent in pregnancy and motherhood.

Ultimately, what is the end of our physical existence? People fear death.
You fear growing older and dislike what old age brings to you but you wouldn’t achieve anything by worrying about it. Whether you spend one minute, 1 day, 1 hour, 1 month, 1 year or 10 years, you’re still going to grow older. Time will pass, the sun will continue to set and rise, earth will rotate on its own axis, ocean tides will rise and fall, flowers will bloom and wilt. Life will still go on. So instead of sitting there, scaring yourself with your fears, you might as well embrace it and start thinking on questions as: What can you start doing today to maximize your experience of life?  What can you start doing to really be living life to its fullest? What can you start doing which will make you look back and think “wow, I can’t think of a better way to live my life”?

If wrinkles must be written upon our brow, let them not be written upon the heart. You don’t stop laughing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop laughing. Don’t wake up one day only to regret having missed out on so many things in life. Don’t get too hung up on the number of candles that will be on your next birthday cake, but rather cultivate your relationships by staying in regular contact with family and friends; connect with your spirituality by meditation, prayer or humbling personal experiences that show how human we are; make a difference by choosing the field we can best help in and tap into our inner power; protect your health; exercise your intellect by better understanding our past and with curiosity and discipline, learn, accept and build on new things; nurture your creativity by testing your powers of making new findings and solutions be it in arts, crafting, writing or in your relationships and above all, build your legacy.
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About Ukandu Jerry Paul

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