One of the most compelling stories to come out of the 2008 Beijing Olympics was that of swimmer Dara Torres. 41-year-old Torres won two silver medals in swimming, beating out women half her age. Her resilience and persistence are remarkable given that she gave birth only two years ago. Her experience in prior Games definitely helped her, but it was her unflappable work ethic and belief in herself that made all the difference. Her story serves as an inspiration to millions of us who yearn to achieve our dreams, but stifle ourselves with the belief that we’re “too old.”
Hodding Carter has a new book out, Off the Deep End, detailing his attempt to qualify for the Olympics… at age 42. The amazing part of the story is that Hodding comes close, remarkably close, to his college swim times. He accomplished this despite living an average American middle-class, non-swimming life for 20 years. He almost made it, but more importantly, he proved just like Dara, that “too old” is simply something we tell ourselves to avoid the hard work and dedication it takes to reach our goals.
There is no such thing as “too old,” only thinking that is too old, too limiting and too small to hold all of our aspirations. My grandmother is 95-years-old. She is completely mobile and looks forward to each day. She has never given up on life. How many of us give up too soon? Would you love to hike the Appalachian Trail, join the Peace Corps or go back to school? What is stopping you?
In the words of Dara:
For anyone who feels stifled or stuck in their life, I say break down those barriers of indecision. Never let anyone set your personal or professional agenda. Live every day with the passion of your last. If I can inspire both women and men in anything it would be that age is just a number, not a death sentence. Wake up every morning with a plan and a dream. If you do, like me, dreams do still come true in your 40s and beyond!” — Dara Torres