A few months ago, I was hopping on an airplane to fly somewhere and I took my aisle seat. I looked over and saw a rather good looking guy sitting in the window seat. I was feeling pretty put together. Hair was done, makeup applied, and my best jeans on. I’ll admit, I wondered if he would cast a glance in my direction. As I sat down, it hit me. I’m much older than him. I’m no longer the girl who might get looked at. I’m more likely to be the mother of the girl who gets looked at.
I know this shouldn’t have been a newsflash for me but sometimes I live in fantasyland. I forget that I’m as old as I am and I don’t really like it.
(I do love Instagram filters, however.)
I won’t say that getting older sucks. I’m tempted to, but I remember that not everyone is granted the privilege of getting older. That gives me at least a little perspective.
There are, of course, many positive aspects of aging. My confidence is better than it ever has been. More importantly, my “I don’t really give a damn” meter is pretty high too. The things that used to bother me – that I used to rue on for days or weeks at a time – just roll off my back. Perspective is much easier to come by.
Oh, and the wisdom. You don’t really really how wise you are until you hang out with people younger than you. Whether it’s the 8 year old kids in the neighborhood or the 30 year old moms at school or the approaching 40 friends all over the place, I can resolutely meet them with the been there, done that attitude and tell them that I’ve safely come out the other side.
With age comes wisdom, I’m constantly reminding myself. Because it’s true.
But let’s face it. 40 is not the new 20. Maybe it is mentally or sociologically speaking. But physically, things really start to head south after forty. In fact, almost exactly when you turn forty.
First stop – metabolism. You think it was hard to lose weight in your 30s? Try in your 40s. Your body seems somehow convinced that you really need an extra 10 pounds of flab around the middle and the rear no matter what you do. I suspect it’s the extra padding our body thinks we’ll need when we start falling and potentially breaking a hip.
I used to be able to treat myself to a McDonald’s meal once a week or so. Now, even the teeny tiny Happy Meal is sure to add an extra pound or two. And the toys aren’t even that good anymore.
The eyes start to go too. It’s a little a shocking at first when you realize you’re looking down at your dinner plate and actually looking under your glasses because it bothers your eyes to look at things too closely. In fact, I was standing in line at the pharmacy the other day and noticed a display of reading glasses. Just to see what the fuss was all about, I put a pair on and wow. It made close up things seem okay again. I don’t quite need them yet but I see the direction I’m heading in.
And how about the nightsweats? Has no one told you about them? Usually when you hit your late 30s, you start this whole perimenopause thing where your body can’t decide what to do with its hormones anymore. Some nights, you’re fine. Other nights you wake up in a cold sweat, totally drenched. And if the nightsweats don’t get you, the extreme PMS will. At least one day a month, I curse anyone who crosses my path for simply breathing.
But the worst part is watching my face change. I have some grays that peek out around my face and I’m definitely dealing with thinning hair. My skin, however, is aging exactly on schedule. I’ve got some pre-jowls at my chinline, drooping eyelids, and so many fine lines around my eyes that I’ve caught myself avoiding smiling because I’m so self-conscious of them.
The real problem is that I don’t feel as old as my birth certificate says I am. On a good day, I blow out my long hair, put on my best jeans, throw on some lipstick, and head out to conquer the world. I feel young and hip and I see that as a good thing. On other days, just feeling good isn’t enough.
(this is also why I wear makeup)
When I was younger, I remember truly believing that you’re only as old as you feel. Age ain’t nothing but a number. And on the inside, I couldn’t agree more. On the outside, my body is fighting me but I’m going to do my best to crank up that “I don’t give a damn” meter. So if you see me with my hair too long sporting a rainbow loom bracelet and riding my Y-Fliker down the driveway, remember that I’m only acting my age.