I’m coming up fast on my 46th birthday. Cognitively, I know that that I’m aging…but inside I feel just the same as the day I walked across the stage to take my high school diploma. Realistically, I know that was a long time ago…a very long time ago now. And would I go back? Oh no way! I had no idea who I was that day in June of 1983, let alone my worth or what I could accomplish when I set my mind to it. I like myself today, I truly do. I didn’t back then, I truly didn’t. Now, if I could go back knowing what I know now, as who I am now, would I? Now that is the real question. Maybe, I think. There are advantages to youth…most of them directly related to an 18 year old body and a lifetime ahead of 18 year old possibilities. And that does make me a tiny bit sad, truly it does.
I think we all go through this. It’s what is known as a Midlife Crisis. Some of us handle it better than others…I’m handling it okay. I mean, I’m not about to go around lying about my age, or trying to prove in some overt way that I still got it. I’ve seen people, particularly women, doing that…up close and personal, and trust me folks, it ain’t pretty! Besides, I’d much rather state my true age and have people say, and actually think, “Wow, you look great for 46!” Instead of saying, “Wow, you look great!” But really thinking, “Geez Louise! Have you been recovering from some godawful disease? Because you look like crap for 36!” Granted, I look good for my age, but the physical changes are there too…the mirror tells me so. That’s why, when I saw the group get together on Facebook, looking into the initial phases of planning our 30th reunion (for 2 years from now), I began to wonder…where did that girl go? “She’s still here!”, I shout, as the bag boy asks if I “Would like some help out with that, Ma’am?” “Er, not just no Hot Bag Boy, but hell no! I’m fine thank you!” As I push my cart out of the store, I can’t help but check myself out in the big round security fun mirror and think to myself, “Oh, you bet I’m fine! Damn fine!” And then about halfway out to my Jeep I really wish I’d accepted that offer of help, because my middle aged back really, really hurts….:-(
The lines are blurred for all of us these days–especially women. We live in the age of Cougars and MILFs, and Ashton & Demi, where a woman who spends every waking hour of her life on trying not to look or act her age, can still get a hot young guy to notice her–even marry her, in Demi’s case. And good for her (I guess). And we also live in the age of all sorts of anti-aging creams and fixes, plastic surgeries and “procedures”, to help us look younger than we actually are. And that’s fine too, I guess, but I have to ask…to what end? Aren’t we still 46 (or whatever age we are) when the day is done? Why put that much effort into trying to fool other people, and ourselves, that we are anything other than what–and who–we really are.
I guess I’m here to state, for the record, that there’s nothing wrong with being 46. For me that’ll happen in about a month. And I feel good about it, really I do. It’s just those shifting paradigms that I need to fully adjust to. I’m not 25 anymore. And that bag boy is perfectly right to call me Ma’am. That’s how he sees me, realistically, and I’ve earned that respect–in spades!
In order to help me fully adjust, I pulled a dusty book off my shelf today. It’s a volume I bought myself in anticipation of turning 40. Truth be told, I didn’t really need it then–but I am probably beginning to need it now. It’s entitled Not Your Mother’s Midlife; A Ten Step Guide To Fearless Aging by Nancy Alspaugh and Marilyn Kentz. The authors offer these 10 steps to so called “fearless aging”:
1) Accept it.
2) Take a good look at what to expect.
3) Let go of what’s not working.
4) Shore up spirituality.
5) Get a new perspective.
6) Find a new passion.
7) Don’t just vent–reinvent.
8) Make new goals.
9) Get a coach.
10) Awaken to the muse.
These are great general suggestions. As I read through the chapters, if I find anything specific that is blog worthy, I’ll be sure to write about it.
I’ve already started on a few of these (all on my own), so I guess I’m doing good already. And I’m probably more okay with the aging process than a lot of women out there, truth be told. But, also in truth, my life is quite literally half over. If I’m lucky, that is, and it’s not actually more than half over. And, although I am still that girl in the white satin cap and gown…I am her and she is me…I have to make some adjustments in my perceptions and sense of self to make sure that young girl can get the very most out of this phase of her life.
And she deserves it…you all really have no idea just how much she deserves it!