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Nicky Pellegrino: Who will I be when I'm old?

Women's Weekly logo Women's Weekly 17/02/2017

We quiz ourselves daily on the small stuff, yet the big questions, the ones that shape our lives, often go unaddressed. To help get you thinking this year, we’ve asked seven familiar faces to share their questions with us. Here is author and journalist Nicky Pellegrino on growing up.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

It’s a question people tend to ask when you’re young (and what a struggle it is coming up with an answer!). That’s when the pressure is on to decide on the future, your all-important coming-of-age from child to adult.

How interesting then to find there’s another question that no one ever asks: who do you want to be when you’re old?

It’s almost as if life is only worth planning when there’s lots of it ahead. As if old age is a petering out rather than a climax. Yes, there’s lots of fuss about financial planning, but while clearly this is important, isn’t life about more than money?

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The thing is, I put in lots of work to become the person I am today. An author, a journalist, a wife, a horse rider – none of it happened by accident. And lately I’ve been wondering if I ought to be putting the same kind of effort into preparing for who I’ll be in the next stages of my life.

My theory is we have lots of coming-of-ages in the course of a lifetime. The transition from child to adult is important, but so is the bit where you move from your freedom years to the responsibility of having a home and family.

Then there’s the shift to middle age before you hit the final stages – generally classified as young-old and old-old.

So who will I be when I get to those points?

I’d like to think I’m going to be gloriously flamboyant like 95-year-old fashionista Iris Apfel or the chic women-of-a-certain-vintage that feature on Ari Seth Cohen’s Advanced Style blog.

But if so, I’m going to have to start investing heavily in chunky bangles and statement necklaces. And as much as I admire their attitude, I’m kidding myself if I think I could be like them. It’s not me. Nor do I want the other extreme, to measure out my life in cups of tea until I fall into a Netflix coma.

So who exactly will I be when I’m old?

So far I don't have an answer, just as I didn’t all those years ago when adults asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I’m thinking about it though. I believe it’s important. I might not be the person I am right now but I’m hoping I’ll still have dreams and goals, and that I’ll be interesting.

Maybe I’ll just buy one statement necklace...

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