Growing Old On My Terms

When my oldest daughter was 6-years-old, we decided to race each other in the playground and I ended up winning (of course). As I was huffing and puffing, she smiled at me and said, “You’re pretty fast for an old man, Daddy.” I laughed it off as a kid being a kid, but then I thought — “Wait a second…that’s not cool.”

If someone said to her, “You play basketball pretty well for a girl” that would upset her. When people tell me that I’m articulate and “well-spoken” for a Black guy, that annoys me (and trust me, this happens quite often). Again, my kid was 6 at the time, so I’m didn’t want to check her too hard for her words, but for some reason people think it’s OK to poke fun at people because of their age.

When I tell people that I’m 44 years old, I often hear that there’s no way I’m that old as if it’s some sort of compliment. As my mom used to say, “Black don’t crack”, and my youthful-looking skin could be part of why I look younger than I am, but I pride myself on disrupting aging in my own special way. Even at my age, I really don’t know what I want to do with my life from a professional standpoint other than doing whatever it takes to make the world a safer and happier place for my kids and all of your kids. I’m also an avid gamer (you don’t want that smoke on Mario Kart), I still love eating candy like Swedish Fish, I’ll do the Fortnite dances in public, and if you dare me to do something silly, I’ll probably take you up on it, and I’ll be damned if I ever embrace the “Dad Bod” thing.

Does that make me immature? I guess it depends on how you view maturity. I’m happiest when I live my life this way, so I don’t see myself changing anytime soon. In other words, the best part of growing older is knowing that I can do it on my own terms.

However, it isn’t all happy news in my world. My dad passed away last month from cancer and that really made examine my own mortality and what it means to get older. I viewed my dad as a superhero — which is similar to the way my kids view me now — and I thought he’d live forever. And I guess that what I learned recently is I am going to die eventually — and I have to do my part to ensure I live my life without regrets. I want to take calculated risks, meet new people, travel to foreign lands, eat new food, face my fears, and put a dent in the universe in a special way.

At the end of the day, aging is what you choose to make of it. My mentality now isn’t that much different than it was when I was a kid — the main difference is I have the experience to make better decisions professionally and personally than I did previously. Most importantly, in disrupting aging, I want to disrupt stereotypes in general. I can probably run faster and lift more weights than many dudes half my age. I can style my daughters’ hair better than many moms can do their daughters’ hair. I’m not saying this to puff my chest out — I’m saying it because many people wouldn’t expect that from me. When I raise my daughters, I want them to do things that aren’t expected of them. For example, they could name all of The Avengers faster than they could name all of the Disney princesses. They would rather play video games with me than play with dolls. I teach them that in order to be remembered, you have to embrace being different.

I may not be your typical 44-year-old dad, but I always remind myself that it’s a good thing.

Note: This is a sponsored post by AARP and all of the thoughts posted here are my own. Follow the conversation on Twitter (@disruptingaging) and Instagram (@disruptingaging) at #DadsDisruptAging.

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