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anne_mikolay_120A recent AOL poll surprisingly revealed that women report feeling old at age 29, and men feel the pinch at age 58.

Wait a minute! Back it up a second, gals! Women feel old at 29? You have to be kidding!

The only thing I can think of that would make the average woman confess to feeling old at the tender age of 29 is the fast approaching, pivotal age of 30. While I find AOL's poll startling and laughable, the report gives me pause. Do I feel old?

When I look at my sons, who definitely are not kids anymore, it's easy to wonder where the time has gone. Both my sons tower over me now, and the days of carrying them around in my arms are distant memories. Ditto for the days of directing their activities and having them home for dinner every night. My firstborn no longer collects toy trains or watches Muppet Babies cartoons. He has his own apartment now, watches CNN in between college classes, and is actively involved in politics. My youngest no longer creates silly pictures with his crayons and tapes them to the refrigerator. Instead, he studies computer languages, is looking forward to starting college in the fall, and would rather eat dinner with his girlfriend than with me. Okay, so maybe I do feel a little old sometimes, but I certainly didn't feel like a senior citizen when I was 29! At that perky age, I thought (mistakenly so) that time stretched endlessly before me. Old age never entered my mind. Why would a 29 year old today think any differently?

Our society's obsession with youth stirs our vanity and insensitivity. We do everything we can to challenge the aging process and think nothing of pointing out the advanced years of others. On April 1st, 2011, The New York Daily News reported that 59 year old Mark Hamill, aka Luke Skywalker of Star Wars fame, “has begun learning a hard lesson.” The article stated, “The “Star War's actor, like the rest of us mere mortals, is no match against the forces of time, which cause even the handsomest of stars to lose their boyish good looks.” In addition to pointing out Hamill's pale complexion and wrinkled face, the article likened the aging Carrie Fisher, aka Princess Leia, to Elton John. Come on, folks! Did we expect Hamill and Fisher, and everybody else for that matter, to be frozen in time? Such hurtful assessment of the aging process stirs the very fear that causes contemporary women to think they are old at the youthful age of 29.

When, then, does old age set in? When do we start feeling old? Is it when arthritis flares? When the hair coloring no longer hides the gray? When we have an empty nest, or when we are grandparents? When we need glasses to read the labels on the canned goods in the supermarket? When we no longer fit into our skinny jeans? Or does old age seize us when somebody announces we look old, as The Daily News did to Mark Hamill?

I admit to feeling “less than young” when my weary bones protest before my feet even touch the floor in the mornings. And thanks to the gray hair springing up atop my head like rampant, silver cork screws, I can't deny the sweeping hands of time, but that's to be expected when the age of 29 is so far behind me. But old at 29? Ridiculous! Ladies, snap out of it! At 29, your life is just beginning, so color your hair, put on your big girl panties, and get on with it.

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