Growing Older, Gracefully

(This entry was started on Sunday right before midnight, but I’m finishing it up hopefully before noon, today)

I’m lying here with the baby and she’s quietly snoring as I think about this topic.

Burning the midnight oil as I think of growing older and what that actually means. Madonna is 53 and did a half-time performance at the Super Bowl, the first sporting event I’ve watched in nearly forever, much less a football game.

There’s a poignant simplicity in not giving a hoot as to what other people think. What matters is what you think of yourself. It’s ok to give permission to yourself to approve of yourself.

I do wonder how many of us go years and years (possibly forever?) not giving ourselves our own approval?

Who told you that you are supposed to be a certain way? Why did you believe them? What was going on at the time? Ok, maybe you were younger than 25, which is allegedly when our prefrontal cortex matures so that we don’t make hasty decisions and do stupid sh*t any longer. I’ve forgiven “them”, the people that were doing their best to look out for me at the time.

I do think of my own expectations and misconceptions over the years, especially about aging.

I’ve done a lot of things, both inward and outward, in order to improve my appearance, or so I surmised at the time. When I was little, I didn’t consider myself to be “a pretty girl,” so I figured that I’d cultivate my smarts, since that’s the adjective that was used in all of my report cards. Well, there were other things too like “talking out of turn, not sitting still”. However, I focused on the written validation from my teachers that it meant that I was actually intelligent.

I buried myself in studies and with lots of reading, doing minimal socializing. I thought that pretty and smart couldn’t coexist together. What was I thinking? Strange how the longer you think about it, the more “true” it seems to be.

I’ll be 38 in June and I can only say the following with certainty: nothing will immediately improve your looks more than letting go, getting some rest, and accepting things as they are at that moment. The moments pass, though. Your thoughts and feelings are most assuredly your own and aren’t right or wrong. It’s your ACTIONS though, that can be right or wrong. Sometimes, small minds have the biggest mouths, too.

It’s ok to give yourself permission to accept your previous mistakes, errant viewpoints, as well as challenge the should’ves, could’ves and oughttohave’s. Whose voice is in your head when you think that stuff?

I’ve never understood why we don’t just compete against our continually evolving selves. As in, challenge everything, especially our internal clocks. Make it a fun race to your own celebrated finish line. At least I now think of “death” in this way. The most meaningful parts of my life have been in the journey and not the destination. It’s too bad that youth is wasted on the young, because I did think that I knew it all, back then.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I had screwed myself up with my own delusional self-perception. We also currently live in the age of the internet and blatant Photoshop, where no one is immune. Even Cindy Crawford once famously said, “even I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford.”

I guess the point that I am trying to make is that there will be no other person in the world that is like you, ever. I’m the first one to admit that I’m very guilty of admiring other people. We even covet things as tangible and intangible as the concept of “beauty” and “fashion”.

Be inspired and make it your own! If you want to wear red eyeshadow and black lipstick daily, who are you hurting? I’ve never understood the hypocrisy of society where no one is ever just right as they are, or that they need to look like ________________ (insert transient reality show stars, pop idols, magazine cover girls and guys) in order to be ________________ (successful, accomplished, rich, valued, etc.) here. It’s the wrong Choose Your Own Adventure book that you’re reading when you buy into that. Admire, be inspired, but most of all, be you.

If you’re not sure who that is, join the club. Read more books, peruse through beautiful images that motivate you and make you smile. Go take a walk for a little bit. We’re not getting any younger than we are at this very moment. Make the most of that. What you do with it is your choice, and can’t be taken away from you.

The photo in this entry is that of the lovely Carmen Dell’Orifice, who has challenged my notions of what it means to be 80, have gray hair (and also be a victim of Bernie Madoff, sadly.) I don’t profess that she’s “all natural”, necessarily, but I know that she looks damned good, for any age.

We can only hope that we can still smile and be able to work and look that good when we’re 80. At least that’s one of my goals at my finish line of this life.

Comments

  1. I love this post. It reflects so well how I’ve felt about myself the last year. When I was in my early twenties, I was in my mid thirties- career oriented, stodgy, focused, boring. Now I’m really enjoying being in my early twenties, and even to some extent, my teens. I never got to enjoy them at the time.

    I love the line “Whose voice is in your head when you think that stuff?” it’s the mother I never had, and she sounds a lot like Lady Gaga :)

Leave a Comment