My oldest is turning 10 tomorrow. (Well, today, by the time you all read this...)
Two hands. Double Digits. 10.
I realize for many, particularly those who may be watching their grandchildren grow up, or have children in college, or have kids about to graduate high school, that 10 sounds like a drop in the bucket. But for me, in this moment, on this day, knowing my oldest child is turning 10 makes me feel all sorts of old.
Recently my age seems to be hitting me square in the face—more so than usual. Just this morning, as I am checking Facebook (which is something I do about once per year), I see a picture of me, in high school, on my old high school's alumni page: There I was, arm-in-arm with some of my friends from that era, with my horrible bangs, wrinkle-free skin, and a huge, youthful smile on my face. Talk about a reality check—that was almost 20 years ago.
And just last week while proofing some headshots, I fixated on my under eye bags for a solid 10 minutes and then literally asked the photographer, "How do we make me look not so old?" To add fuel to the fire, I found my first gray hair the other day. The list of moments where I am reminded (very clearly and without consideration for my feelings) that I am growing older by the minute goes on and on.
Aging gracefully is not something that comes naturally to me. I really like botox. And I am not totally sure which section to buy my clothes in. I still love being carded and I go to bed by 8 because I am legit tired. But I know, on a cognitive level, that being 36 is a privilege. Watching my children grow up is a privilege. My wrinkles are a privilege (full disclosure, I am still working on that one).
So when I need a little reminder that my age does not define me, or restrict me, I focus on the following:
1. I remind myself, over and over, that growing old is a privilege.
There are so many people lost way too soon in this world. I am privileged to be old enough to have wrinkles, and shitty eye sight, and a bad back. It means I have been on this earth for a good, long time and with that I have had countless opportunities to see and experience some pretty amazing things. All because I continue to age.
2. I reframe my hatred for growing old.
This one can be tricky, but I have found that it helps me to move past the wrinkle I might be fixated on at the moment. I forcefully focus on the RIGHTS my 36 years on this planet have earned me instead of focusing on the physical amount of time I have been around. My age awards me numerous rights that younger individuals haven't acquired yet: Rights like owning a home and a business. The right to travel, when and where I want. The right to make my own choices.
3. I give myself credit, where credit is due.
In those moments where I feel old, I also tend to get this nagging sense of "Time is running out!" and "You haven't accomplished anything yet!"
Both, of course, are ridiculous, but nonetheless: I have to actively remind myself of all the amazing things I have done in my life [so far]. Growing old is a lot easier to handle when you look back and feel like the time you have spent so far hasn't been a total waste.
4. And sometimes, I just get the dang botox.
Listen, if splurging on the lotion, or the botox, or this or that from time to time helps you to feel proud of your aging body, then I say go for it. Remember: growing old is a privilege (see #1) and you have the right (see #2) to make whatever choice you want for your body. For me, it's a whole lot easier handling turning 37 this summer with a nice, smooth forehead.
So next time you need a little help aging graceful, try these out and see if they help. And if not, just remember that botox exists.
To many more years on this earth,
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[This article does not create a client-counselor relationship. This article is general counseling information and is not to be considered legal or medical advice. Please consult with your mental health professional before you rely on this information.]