Posts Tagged ‘age’

Teri Larson Jones: Coping with Age Anxiety

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Lately, I’ve been freaking out that my 45th birthday is on April 27th.  Yikes! How did I get here?? I typically ignore my age and simply live my life, but this year I’m struggling with my age and finding it hard to make the same old jokes about being 29 again. If having a mid-life crisis means you feel like life is flying by too quickly, or that I feel too young to be this old, then I’m definitely experiencing one.

So, how does my “age anxiety” relate to barefooting? For one thing it leads me to question whether I’m too old to compete in this sport.  The first time I felt really self-conscious about my age as a barefooter was at the 2013 U.S. Nationals. It was my first national championship as an open skier, and truth be told I felt a little silly on the dock because my oldest competitor was 16 years younger than me. I had to remind myself that the open division isn’t about age…it’s about ability. Other awkward moments are when I’m in the boat training with people whose parents are my age. I feel like I should be on shore with the parents instead of being on the water with their kids.

Behind my “age anxiety” is an underlying feeling that I should “grow up” or “act my age.” I know others think that way too because without fail after every world championship I’ve skied people ask me “are you going to quit now?” It’s as if they expect the worlds to be a point of closure, much like a graduation from high school or college. Granted, these people do not understand the sport because they don’t barefoot, but I get the impression that they expect me to be “done” with this sport after skiing a worlds so I can move on and do things that “grown ups” do.

I happen to know some grown ups who are incredibly awesome barefooters. For example, look at two of my U.S. teammates: Willy Farrell and Peter Fleck. Both of these guys are older than I am yet they still compete as elite skiers. Other grown up skiers such as Chris Mcwatters, Duane Godfrey, Judy Myers, Karen Putz, and Joann O’Connor also inspire me.  Actually, anyone (especially skiers over age 40) who is trying to improve their skiing and is working on new things inspire me to keep pushing myself. For all of us, barefooting should serve as a source of personal growth in our lives-a process that I hope continues until the day I die. If being “grown up” or “acting my age” means the process of personal growth is over, then I want nothing to do with it!

Of course, another other source of my “age anxiety” is the fear that my body won’t be able to withstand the learning curve I have ahead of me to achieve my personal goals in this sport.  I know I’ve set some lofty goals for myself, so it’s important that I take good care of my body so I can achieve them. Even though I see the things that Willy and Peter can do at their age, I remind myself that when they were 45 years old they were already doing the things I see them doing now.  They learned their stuff WAY before age 45. The biggest challenge I face at age 45 is actually doing the things I want to learn for the first time because my sights are set on difficult goals.

One of the things I love the most about skiing at WBC is that they don’t accept my age as an excuse to avoid pushing myself to the next level. My age simply isn’t a factor when I train with them. Even if I pull the “age card” as an excuse for anything they see right through it and call me out on it. It’s awesome to ski with instructors who recognize my abilities and know how to maximize my potential.

I’ve heard it said that stating something out loud (or on a medium such as this blog) makes you accountable for your words.  So, instead of allowing my “age anxiety” to make me feel insecure or too old to progress, I’ve decided to view it from a different perspective. After all, “anxiety” has positive and negative connotations. It can be a feeling of fear or uneasiness, but it can also be a feeling of eagerness or intense desire. Therefore, from this point forward I’ll redirect my “age anxiety” toward celebrating what I can do on the water DESPITE my age, and to eagerly anticipate the process of reaching my goals. Happy 45th birthday to me!

Teri Larson Jones