I’m old, or at least that’s what the Hallmark aisle would tell me with those cards covered in bad jokes about aging. I’ve perused these aisles for years and while the cards are definitely more politically correct, they have one big thing wrong: they think 40 is old.
I thought 40 was old, too, after seeing the obnoxious birthday cards my Aunt and Uncle sent the year my Mom turned 40. We are a very competitive family and one of those competitions was to see who could send the funniest birthday cards. Every year, they would set a new bar. They worked for this win. Remember, we didn’t have Etsy or online ordering at the time. Each sibling would go to multiple stores over weeks to find the perfect card. To win what, I’m not sure. I guess the joy of hearing your sibling cackle with laughter at just how inappropriate you are.
There were cards about farts, firemen, thongs, and everything else you can imagine. But the funniest cards were all about the inevitable things that happen when people get old, like falling down or farting unexpectedly. It made me believe that getting older would really suck. That someday I would sit on my couch at 40 and curse getting older.
To the opposite extreme, I’m enjoying the years after 30 far more than the ones before it. I spent most of my 20s in survival mode. But each year since 30 has been filled with far more peace and balance than I expected. With my next birthday just a few weeks away, I found myself wondering what I might do to get even more healthy years in this life (assuming the planet doesn’t melt before then).
Live To 100
This search led me to a Netflix documentary called Live to 100: Life in the Blue Zones. Definitely worth watching. The premise is simple. There are areas around the world where there are far higher percentages of centenarians than anywhere else in the world. What do all these people that have lived 100+ years have in common?
I won’t ruin it by listing everything out for you, but there were a few things centenarians do more than anyone else that I found interesting:
- Faith. People who live to be 100 believe in something. Not one all-powerful god or any specific religion, but simply the fact that they believed in something bigger than themselves extended their lives (on average) about 7 years.
- Community. Loneliness kills and the cure is community. In Japan, they call this a “moai.” A moai is a close-knit support system where people provide emotional, social, and often financial assistance to one another throughout their lives. They play a significant role in well-being and resilience by assuring people have someone to call when all hell breaks loose.
- Purpose. Knowing why you wake up and what you’re working toward can add years to your life.
Reading the pages of my book again (released to everyone 9/25/2023), it’s clear I’ve learned these lessons. I had to learn them if I wanted to survive my 30s. I had to believe in something bigger than me to survive a divorce. I reconnected and rebuilt my community. I learned that spending time with my people is more important than time behind my laptop. I found my purpose, too. To write with my whole heart. To teach others. To learn how I can uniquely help make this world better.
Even with the new body aches and pains of getting older, I want to get old. I can only imagine that living the next few years will make me want to live even more. So I’ll happily get older and collect those funny birthday cards each year along the way. I still have a few until I’m 40 and old anyway.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.