A few days ago I turned 33.
I feel like the natural inclination when it comes to acknowledging birthdays as an adult is to recoil in horror.
“Oh my god I’m so oooold”
“Please, I don’t even want to think about it”
Why? Why are we like this?
Life Is So Damn Precious
Last year I interviewed a young mother-of-two who had terminal cancer. By all outward appearances, she was fit, healthy, beautiful and bubbly. We were around the same age and lived in the same area. Needless to say, there were lots of similarities.
Even though I had only interviewed her over the phone, her death shook me deeply. Our lives were running in parallels. We got married around the same time and our children were around the same age.
And, yet, I’m still here.
Life doesn’t offer explanations. Things don’t always happen for ‘a reason’. Sometimes shit is manifestly unfair. And, yet, we persist.
So we beat on, boats against the current.
There is nothing to be ashamed about in growing older. It is a gift so many others will have snatched away from them.
Personally, I’ve enjoyed getting older. I would rather enjoy a glass of wine with the person I am today, than the person I was at 23. I have, for lack of a better term, finally filled out emotionally. I also have better stories to tell, I’m more empathetic and, perhaps most importantly, I know when to shut up and listen.
I accept the person I am and forgive myself for my (most likely self perceived) foibles. I do that because I have been around long enough to know that we’re all a little fucked up. Somehow… somewhere in our psyche… the screws are a little loose. And that’s OK. That’s normal. In fact, that’s kind of what makes us bond with one another.
The Beauty Myth In Action
We’re not supposed to enjoy growing older. We’re especially not supposed to enjoy or, at the very least, embrace the elements that come with age; wrinkles, grey hair, ailing bodies. And let’s be honest, some of it isn’t ideal (limited mobility etc) but other elements, the elements we are told we can buy our way out of (like wrinkles) are really and truly not that bad.
They’re really just a road map of the life we’ve been gifted. The thing is though, youth eternal will always be something we’re told is the ideal because if we start to embrace growing older then we’ll stop seeking out formulas to hide or mask our wrinkles…. and bust goes the beauty industry.
Anyway, this is more for another time. Until then, load up the birthday candles.