I’m not gonna lie: I suck at aging. When I look in the mirror, I always find a line that needs a bit more concealer. A new age spot that I wish I could erase with a Mr. Clean sponge. Skin that sags just a little more than it did the day before. I have a difficult time accepting that one day soon, I won’t be all that young anymore.
But as much as I’ve failed at embracing my maturing body, there are many ways I feel more alive now than I did back when I was 20 or even 30. Here are 9 truths that put a twist on my not-so-rosy outlook on getting older:
1. Rushing is No Longer Allowed
I used to rush for everything and everyone in the early days. I’d make the entire family get up at 4 a.m. just to arrive at an agricultural fair on time. Today? Not so much. Not at all, actually. If it requires stressing out about a time or place or what to wear, chances are, I’m not going and neither is my posse. I’m no longer afraid to say no or to thoughtfully decline an invitation. Having a no-rushing-allowed rule has lifted a great weight off my shoulders. I’m free to do as I please, when I please. At 41, I deserve that freedom.
2. Shoes Don’t Have to Match
Once upon a time I was a fashionista. My shirt complemented my slacks, which matched my shoes, which coordinated with my handbag. I was walking Vogue cover! Sadly, I felt pressure to meet some unwritten societal expectation that white could not be worn after Labor Day and leather was not meant for the office. Well, no more! My shoes don’t have to match. Crocs are always in style (okay, maybe that’s pushing it). And I’ll wear white when I damn please, even while sledding in a blizzard. I still dress well, but I like to consider myself a fashionique. The ‘nista has left the building.
3. The Joneses Really Don’t Have It All
There was a time when I wanted everything the Joneses had: a huge house, a fat wallet, the best of everything. Now, I don’t give a hoot what the Joneses have going on. I’m happy to have a roof over my head, healthy kids in tow and a job that pays the bills. My little piece of heaven on earth provides the most important thing of all: a home surrounded by family. That, my friends, is true wealth.
4. Dance While Everyone Is Watching
I spent eight years in ballet, tap and jazz as a young girl. I especially loved ballet and dreamed of being on stage. Although my dreams never came true, I never lost a love for dance. But there was a time when I would dance like no one was watching, because I’d never let anyone see me bust a move. I had forgotten all the steps, or so I thought. I was convinced that I must look like a goof doing the “Macarena” and breaking it down to “The YMCA.” A once-confident dancer became a shy, withdrawn non-moonwalker, until recently. I now, once again, dance like everyone is watching, because they are and I don’t care how good I am or how outdated my moves might be. I’ll dance the night away if I want to, thanks.
5. A Bad Hair Day Is a Great Hat Day
In my 20s, you couldn’t pay me to wear a hat. I’d let nothing ruin my great hair days, which happened regularly. As I’ve aged, had babies and begun purchasing 99-cent shampoo, my hair has become an unruly disaster. I don’t have the time nor the patience to Aqua Net it into a work of art. That’s why baseball caps have become my best friends. I love them! They take the work out of straightening and curling and really do look sexy. Now my bad hair days are great hat days.
6. Remove the Toxins (Namely, People)
Negative, excessively grumpy and controlling people can wear me down like an economy tire. We have a tendency to tolerate these types when we’re younger because we’re hopeful they can change or that we can change them. I certainly thought I could on more than one occasion. I finally realized that people have to want to change, and some just never will. Those are the ones I cut from my life. When I removed the toxins, I could breathe again.
7. Cake Is a Food Group, So Eat It
The gym was once my favorite place to go. I worked out five times a week and appreciated my slim and trim physique. I’d turn my nose up at carbs and never consume anything with too much sugar. Now, I still eat rather healthy, but I will not pass on cake. I’m convinced it’s one of the major food groups, or it should be. I may not be a size 4, but I’m a happier eater.
8. Guilt Trips Have Taken a Permanent Vacation
I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Oh, my gosh, I am truly sorry. I was an apologetic fool. It baffles my mind how frequently I apologized for things that were not my fault or I could not control. Then I realized that in many instances people were, in fact, trying to put me on a guilt trip, and I fell for it time and time again. Even my children were pros at this tactic. I’m happy to report that it now takes an actual act of guilt or accidental incident to make me say I’m sorry to anyone. It is nearly impossible to send me on an unwarranted guilt trip.
9. Herd Mentality Is for the Birds (Well, Buffalo and Sheep)
How fun it was to jump on all things trending and popular! The “me too” disease ran rampant before I became a wise and knowledgeable older woman. I now look back and wonder what choices I might have made if I had thought for myself and not run with the herd. Thankfully, I’ve grown into my own independence. I thrive on it and love thinking for myself. I often laugh in the face of trends and choose a different path. It feels so damn good!
Are you struggling with aging, and like me, maybe you’re not ready to give in to Mother Nature just yet? Luckily, there are other ways to free yourself and embrace the passing of time. Let go of the things that are weighing you down and start doing the things you once loved. Once you do, you’ll feel like it’s the ’80s all over again! Don’t stop believing.