1st April 2023 4 min read
Human beings are generally opinionated and we are also worried about other people’s opinions of us. Some people never pursue their dreams because their lives are shaped by what others think they can or should do.
I am glad that I have had stick-to-itiveness throughout most of my life.
I remembered my mum who was a beautiful lady. When she became fifty years of age, she said she would only wear dull colors, no attractive motifs on her blouse, and kept plain. That was to avoid gossip from people who might comment that she was not acting her age.
She missed the enjoyment of dressing to look and feel good for herself.
The world is a discriminating place. Whether you are tall or short, good-looking or ugly, smart or stupid, young or old, there will always be negative comments so it’s best to listen to yourself, guided by moral principles and common sense.
Keep your focus on your interests and believe that you can achieve whatever you want.
In my younger days, I was fascinated with the learning of the Japanese language because I love its language, culture, music, food, scenery, and its creativity.
Despite being repeatedly told about the brutality of the Japanese during the Sino-Japanese war and discouraged to learn about its language, I was undeterred.
After all, it’s been 40 years since Japan surrendered when I started to attend language school in the mid-80s and a generation had gone by.
The laughable part is that the discouragers are fans of Japanese food and Japan as its destination.
Learning Japanese greatly enhanced my travel options, understanding, and appreciation of life in Japan. I could get around her economically and interact with the local people who are affable and hardworking.
Their complex transport network, in particular, intrigued me. Deciphering its system to get to some out-of-the-beaten-path areas was a good workout for my brain.
I went back to a private school in Tokyo at the age of 48 for two weeks in 2006 for a cultural immersion during which I broke the ice to speak the language comfortably.
During my short stint, my classmates were foreign students from other Asian countries such as Korea, China, and Taiwan. They were my children’s age and some were amused to have an older person as a student in their midst.
I heard remarks and insinuations from young people and teachers alike who wondered aloud why a much older woman would be interested to go back to school.
I did not heed any of their concerns and behaved as cordially as possible and acted as a responsible student. The course was enriching and I found young people lovely.
People are naturally curious. They may stigmatize another out of their own ignorance or mindset. I did not let anyone dampen my spirits for learning.
I always have the inclination to try new things. Skiing was a challenge to me as I could only try it once a year. For the last few years, it was my mission to ski in Japan yearly where I would engage a coach, and was lucky to have an enthusiastic and sincere coach for the sport each trip.
Once in the observation deck at the top of Mount Zao in Japan, I met a Japanese couple in their 60s. During our conversation, I found out that they stopped skiing when they hit sixty years of age. Apparently, they considered themselves too old to be doing this ‘dangerous ‘ sport and were resigned to watching younger people ski. Or were they told they were too old? I thought that was ludicrous.
Whenever I wanted to do something adventurous like go on a Scuba diving trip, I would get comments like, “ At this age, why are you trying this?” So, what age is good, I pray?
Now well into my 60s, I am doing indoor rock climbing much to the surprise of many younger climbers.
Ageism is unavoidable and snide remarks and jokes were clearly audible.
What I learned is that rock climbing is not about using brute strength to reach the top. If so, one would not see muscular people failing to scale the walls.
It is about stretching, strategy, stamina, steadiness, stillness, style, and spirit that I learn. I am glad to have ignored negative comments to take up this sport and reap these benefits.
Do not be discouraged by others or yourself.
Walk your own path. It is rocky because people do not see your potential and would throw more pebbles along the way. Sweep them off and make your way to a new level of discovery, improvement, and enlightenment in yourself.