As I gal in her late fifties, there are quite a few adjectives I might use to describe myself-middle aged, baby boomer, early retiree, young widow. I'm sure that there are others. One word I would not use to describe myself is "senior". Not that I have a problem with the description, it's just not a category I would put myself into.
The fact is though, lots of other people consider me a senior. Actually, it's surprising how many folks think that way, especially in light of the advanced life expectancy in the US. Kroger, considers my a senior citizen at 55 and as such, gives me ten percent off every Kroger product. The gal who cuts my hair (short, spiked and silver) hems and haws-she wants to offer me the senior discount but doesn't want me to be afraid. AARP wants, in fact regularly begs for my membership (I must get more junk mail from them than any other source).
I suppose I COULD get offended by all of this. I mean, good heavens! I'm not old, I'm in the height of middle age. I'm still healthy, active and involved. but instead of being offended, I welcome the offers.
Why does all this not bother me? Well........the bottom line is that I'm happy for the most part with who and where I am. I'm fifty something, going on sixty soon. Although I'm a bit overweight, I have an active lifestyle. I work out every day, I've returned to college, I take spur of the moment trips and adventures. I also have white hair, grown children, skin that while overall good still shows the years of outdoor living. In other words. I don't look twenty. Heck, I don't even look thirty. No one will ever mistake me for my daughter, and I'm not sure I would want them to (although she looks uncannily like I did at her age). In other words, I'm comfortable in my own skin, and labels are just that.
So when the lady asks if I qualify for the senior discount at the hair studio, I smile and ask her what her age requirement is. I happily show the nice young man at Kroger my driver's license so he can enter my birthday into their information system. I take advantage of the senior day at the movies, and the ten percent off at the thrift store.
I definitely don't consider myself a senior citizen yet. But if others are willing to offer me the advantages of that label, I'll take them and smile. And when I do get to senior citizen status-that will be fine too!