I am 40. For some reason that’s not always easy to say. Maybe it’s the emphasis society places on youth. Could it be that I’m a vain person who has lived a lifetime of being completely in the dark about my own vanity? Or is it possible that I am afraid of growing old and not living up to my full potential?
If I had to guess, it’s probably a little bit of all of the above wrapped in one little box of self-doubt and insecurity.
Whether intentional or unintentional, society places value on youth. And it is possible to get lost in the notion that somehow you aren’t something after a certain age. What that something is, I’m not sure.
Maybe that you aren’t as pretty. As smart. As sexy. As witty. As in-the-know. As cool. And sometimes, that notion gets reinforced.
Take last weekend. I was attending a concert with some friends when a young man, who apparently had never heard of the unwritten rule that you never ask a woman her age, asked my friend how old she was. When she replied with 36, his response was a shocking, “you should feel lucky. Most women go downhill at 30.”
Wow. That was bold. And awful. We advised him to never say that to a woman again.
At that moment, his comment reinforced the negative and false perception I had brought with me to that concert. If I’m being honest, I had been toting around that false perception to a lot of places lately.
It was that aging isn’t beautiful.
Every wrinkle on your body represents an expression of your past. A part of you. It shows where you have been time and time again. A crinkle around the eye formed from laughter. A mark of worry between your brows. Lines on the forehead from eyes lifted high in surprise, enthusiasm, and wonder. Lines formed by the corners of your mouth; proof of a lifetime of smiles. Stretch marks as a silent reminder of the precious gift of carrying life.
And beyond the beauty of the body, there is the beauty of the mind. A mind filled with memories of past experiences that hopefully result in wisdom. A mind that carries confidence and no longer feels the need to prove anything. A mind like a card catalog filled with story after story, waiting for the perfect moment to be pulled out and shared.
And let’s not forget the beauty of the heart. As the years pass, our hearts carry memories of relationships, past and present. We learn from rejection and loss. Our heartache catapults us toward grief and eventually healing. Healing that we can now share with others whose hearts are breaking. Our hearts expand as people come into our lives and we learn there is never too much love to give.
When I’m struggling with that three-word sentence, I am 40, I need to remember these three words instead, “aging is beautiful.
Wherever you may find yourself on the spectrum of life, whether you have just entered adulthood or are well on your way, I hope you are able to embrace all of your past years, live your present day to the fullest and look to your future with great anticipation. It’s time to embrace that truth.