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Was Turning 60 an Unhappy Birthday for You?

By Darlene McCarthy Barnfield January 03, 2024 Mindset

Celebrating 60 was a long time in coming for me. “It’s shocking,” I would say to friends as it started to sink in that August was right around the corner, and I was fast approaching a milestone I did not look forward to. My reaction would not have surprised anyone. I had always been age averse.

“How old are you?” a new acquaintance would often query. “I don’t tell,” I would respond flatly. But the startled look on their faces always begged some explanation.

Don’t Lie. Don’t Confess

“I never reveal my age, my weight, or the number of romantic partners in my past,” I would say, adding, “No good can ever come of that.”

I had valid reasons for that attitude. I have never had children, so I lived my entire life without that natural reminder of the passage of time that children represent. Toddler. Teenager. Independent person half my age, etc.

Also, for years I had worked in television, a youth oriented industry which did not treat kindly the aging female anchor woman.

Pigeonholed as Old

Then I married late, and my husband would begin occasional conversations with the phrase, “Well, you know, people our age…” fill in the blank.

Now hold on there, Methuselah! We may be sharing a life, as well as a number of other things, but age is not one of them. I am exactly 7 years younger than you.

But his words began to resonate. And I had to acknowledge that time passes and takes with it opportunities that are never to be repeated. Like being a bride again.

I actually get sad when I go to weddings and find myself yearning to walk down that aisle again. Now, I am sure that could be arranged, but I’m hoping it won’t be necessary.

Age just did not bother my husband. And despite having once dated women young enough to be his daughter, of all the questions he asked me when we first started seeing each other the only one he never ventured near was age. “I just didn’t care,” he said later when I asked him why.

That’s the kind of lovely fellow he is. And that’s one of the reasons I married him. Oh, yes, and there was that huge fortune, of course. Just kidding.

Don’t Judge Me

A couple years back RED Magazine explored the question of AGE: The Last Taboo, and asked why many women still lie about how old they are.

Not a mystery to me. People are judgemental. Even if you look great, a number that is too high in their minds many times serves to diminish or even completely dismiss your worth. How dare they? How dare we let them?

Live in Reality

We are the only ones who have the incentive to change age discrimination. But first you have to admire what you are and by doing so challenge others into seeing you the way you see yourself.

So this year I decided to live in reality and do what I had never done before. Celebrate getting older without fear of judgement – mine or anyone else’s.

I threw myself a party. My husband wanted to make it a huge ‘do’ which was so kind of him, but I declined his offer and didn’t even invite him. I just wanted people there like me.

And many of my girlfriends who could come, did come. My husband carried no grudge and bought me jewelry instead. Second reason I married him.

60 Is a Turning Point

Turning 60 is a wake-up call of sorts. We have all gotten this far and have acquired skills, experiences, and wisdom – the gifts of the mature. It would be a shame to waste them by not recognizing their worth as a foundation to build on to accomplish more, not less, with each successive birthday.

But first, we must start by reminding ourselves that an ‘ageless’ self-perception is the goal. Every age has its limitations, of course. 5-year-olds can’t drive, and 90-year-olds would struggle to summit Everest.

But there is no reason why hundreds of other things that depend on your brain and your drive cannot be accomplished.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I think I might have been guilty of that in the past. But no more.

From now on, to those, including me, who might suggest with a glance or, even worse, a word that a 60-year-old is not up to snuff, I will quote Eleanor and say, “Permission to make me feel less is hereby revoked.”

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How did you feel when you turned 60? Any special events and experiences you’d like to recount? Please share them in the comments below.

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Karen Mitchell

I turned 60 during the Covid lockdown so I didn’t get to celebrate. I’ve never had an issue with age but 60 hit me hard. I don’t lie about my age ever though. I’ve earned every gray hair and every wrinkle. Haha. 62 was particularly hard. Lots of difficult life changes. I’m still trying to deal with all of it.


I LOVED turning age 60!! My boys are grown, my husband has been retired abt 6 yrs and I’ve been traveling all over! Just really enjoying myself. I just turned age 61 and I can’t wait to see all the things I want to explore this year. I feel so grateful that I’m healthy to do everything. I’m blessed!!


60 passed me by – it came round 10 days after having a full hysterectomy and in the middle of a lockdown period so I couldn’t celebrate anyway.

I ignore milestone years as they seem to bring me bad luck. At 30 I was made redundant from my banking job and struggled for months to find another, nearly losing my house in the process.

At 40 I was dealing with a badly flooded house, 45 breast cancer. Didn’t celebrate 50 as I was waiting for the end of remission.

55 was dealing with another house on an estate that became structurally damaged (still fighting with the authorities 8 years on). 60 was my hysterectomy because endometrial cancer was found.

I sometimes wonder if someone has it in for me, but I guess it’s just life!

Lana Muir

I loved turning 60. Vanity is not in my nature and ageism has never been part of my thinking. Letting go of the things of youth came as easy as raindrops fall. I could not wait to start spending my retirement income and take hang gliding lessons.

The Author

Darlene McCarthy Barnfield is a freelance journalist and author of the travel blog Traversing the Triangle. A former television news anchor and reporter, radio talk show host and magazine columnist, she writes about the gift of travel and how its perspective-altering quality enriches, teaches and inspires us. Please check her website here

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