I am getting older. And it is showing. I see it in the gray hairs that are popping up with increasing frequency, the lines around my eyes, and my forehead, once smooth, now has a road map of creases that seem to have popped up overnight. And ever since I have noticed them, it is the first thing my eyes go to when I look in the mirror. I am more vain than I like to admit.
It seems like it came out of nowhere, but when I reflect, I think it has been coming on for some time. There were a few times when I thought I saw a gray hair and I then I thought, no, that hair must be just REALLY blond. Or maybe it is coated in hairspray. A few years ago, my co-worker suggested that I get a new picture taken for my badge since I had been with the company so long. I scoffed at the thought and told her that I look exactly the same as I did when I started at age 24. But the patients that mistake me for a high school student have lessened in frequency and now I cannot remember the last time that it happened. And it used to happen a lot, and other than the fact that they clearly lacked confidence in my ability, I liked it.
Seeing the changes that are happening remind me of the fact that I am aging and I will continue to age. On the surface, it seems to be about my appearance, but I think it is more, because even if I look young, my body and mind are still getting older. I will not always be this young, or have this much energy, or run this (moderately) fast. And will I still be okay with that?
I think that I will be. When I look back on the person that I was when I was 20, I sort of cringe. I made not great decisions. I was arrogant, all the while being ignorant and lacking self-esteem. I did not like myself that much and I did not take care of myself. I was selfish, I was careless, and a bit of a snot.
I have grown a lot in these last 15 years and I like myself a lot better these days, gray hairs and wrinkles and all. I am immeasurably stronger, wiser, and happier. I am more responsible financially, emotionally, and socially. And I could have never got to this place without all the years in between. Life takes practice. It would be wonderful to be 20 and have the experience of a 70 year old, but as they say, youth is wasted on the young, or at least it was in my case.
And now, I am about to be 35. It is halfway to 70, and that seems like a big deal, so I am having a party. (If you know my address, you are invited!) I want to celebrate my age, not hide from it. As many years as I can get, I am taking them, and I am going to so as much as I can with the time that I get. Bring on middle age! Okay, maybe I am not ready to refer to myself as middle-aged just yet.