So I am trying to embrace the fact that I am in my 40’s. In fairness, I am trying to embrace it because technically I have no vote. Well that and the fact that I just reached the midway point so coming to grips with it seems like a good idea before the next one sneaks up on me.
I remember looking in the mirror in my early 20’s and talking to myself (I am my best audience after all) questioning how I became an adult strictly by reaching an age. How at 21 apparently I miraculously got my adult card although I don’t recall a handbook, test or even a welcome basket from life officially welcoming me to this mysterious club.
I always have felt like I was an imposter. I may keep aging chronologically but I don’t know that generally speaking I feel all that much different so it makes this aging thing a challenge. It’s not like there is a map or class to take. No one ever came to flip a switch in my brain that allowed me to ‘become an adult’. It’s a label based strictly on an age. I find that age doesn’t ‘feel’ in everyday life. It shows after time, but for me I only feel it sometimes.
I have been relatively successful at ignoring this whole ‘adulthood’ tag, well in my head anyway. You just keep living your life and don’t really dwell on the fact that you wish each week away waiting for the weekend. In this, I am not unique, I know a lot of people are often surprised when they realize another year has passed or even a decade. You accomplish little things and big things but often don’t stop and analyze it. You just ‘go with the flow’ until something happens that just give you a kick in the chicklets.
There was the day when I pulled into the parking lot of a store. Nothing out of the ordinary but before I got out I looked over and in another car there were two girls in their late teens or early twenties. No strikes of lightning, no big warning sign, just two girls sitting in the car. Suddenly, the realization hit me that I wasn’t them anymore. I was the ‘old lady’ (from their perspective) in the other car. Clearly, the memory of being ‘young’ and seeing an ‘older’ woman in a car came rushing back. A little thing, but at that moment, it was one right in the kisser.
Then a week or so ago there was another one. I saw a post from a facebook friend that I know socially. She was mentioning something about her kids. Her kids are young and she is in her 30’s. Bam! I realized that when I was in my 30’s and I had young children, there were women in their 40’s with teens. Suddenly, I am that mom in her 40’s with teens, no longer the mom in her 30’s with little ones.
Let us not forget how incredibly shocking it can be to look in the mirror. Some days the image staring back at me looks remotely familiar but she has puffy eyes, lines around her mouth & eyes. By the way, what the hell happened to my neck? Where she used to have blonde streaks naturally highlighting her hair they are grey now. I mean where did I go? While I could always find things about my appearance I didn’t like, now there are days when I don’t even want to look in the mirror.
There is nothing wrong with aging in theory. You can look back and realize even strictly based on the number of years you have been on the earth, most likely you are a little wiser than you were. You have learned an unbelievable amount of useless trivia and if you are lucky a few things that you can use outside of a game show or trivial pursuit. You hopefully learned from mistakes, have gained some incredible memories, perhaps taught a few lessons yourself. The lines you now see were hopefully caused more by laughter than sorrow and you are continuing to learn and grow every minute you draw breath.
But really with all things being equal, the physical consequences of age kinda suck.