Growing older. Why is such a normal process so hard to accept? Why do we agonize over it as though we can change or slow the approaching beast, instead of embracing it? When did growing older become the enemy? Was it always this way and we never noticed because we were bathed in the light and warmth of our youth?
I remember watching my mother go kicking and screaming into that abyss as she saw the shell deteriorate around her. Worrying over so many things that faded and were lost the older she grew. None of it gracefully or comfortably, but rather mourned and cried over as she plucked and pruned herself into a facade she could live with. My mother died before I was able to tell her I finally understand.
It can be intimidating to cope in a society where youth seems to be all that matters.
As I now enter that gray area of not too old, but definitely not young, I can appreciate more and more what she must’ve felt all those years. When I was telling her to let it go, and that she was beautiful no matter what, I now understand how hollow those words must have sounded when I was young, perky and oblivious. As that tide now flows over me I wonder, is this how she felt?
To look in the mirror and see reality staring back?
To be surrounded daily by images on TV, in movies and magazines who show no signs of aging?
To see these women portrayed as flawless and wonder why I can’t look like that?
Do I just need to exercise longer, eat a little better, lose more weight?
I can even hear my 28–year old daughter starting down this dangerous path.
Obviously, the answer is no. We shouldn’t be measuring ourselves against standards that only exist through the lens of a professional makeup artists and digital photography that can magically erase any perceived imperfections.
We often forget that truth. We could all go running after that brass ring, trying to look 20 in our 40s and 50s and 60s. But at some point, the landslide can’t be prevented. At some point it’s inevitable and nothing we try or do can change it without looking “off” and artificial.
It can be intimidating to cope in a society where youth seems to be all that matters. Where knowledge and wisdom are no more appreciated than the lines and sags that accompany them. When do we finally see our unique beauty and value, saying enough is enough? It’s time to get off the merry-go-round.
The only way I can see to fight this monster that threatens our confidence and happiness is to deny it access. Look in the mirror and finally see who we are – an older but wiser reflection. Not flawed and frail. We are forged by time, experience and accomplishments into a magnificent composite of where we’ve been, who we are now and where we are going.