I have been walking this earth for 51 years. Well, 51 and a half really. And I think I’m finally starting to accept that I’m ageing.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think my life is over. I know people achieve all sorts of things in their 50s, 60s and beyond. Indeed I know 70-odd year olds who are certainly healthier and fitter than I am.
But I think for a long time I’ve been in denial that I am ‘middle-aged’.
I always put it down to my lack of partner and kids. For a range of reasons I was really only (emotionally) ready to start dating in my mid 30s. It was in my early 40s before I attempted to get pregnant.
I rarely ‘feel’ or act my age. But sadly (and increasingly) I now look it. Or perhaps even worse. I mean, I’m occasionally surprised when someone else who looks much older ends up being younger than me, or I’m horrified when someone who looks young is older than me. But I do try to remember the old ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ adage.
It doesn’t work, but I try.
And then I look in the mirror and I see the blotchy and wrinkly face of someone who’s squeezed too many pimples and donned coconut oil in the 1980s before baseball caps were cool. I’ve not been as careful as I could have been with moisturisers over the years, consumed too much diet coke and red wine and eaten too little (ie. no) fruit. I look like an ex-smoker with lines above my bottom lip, craters under my eyes and far too many wrinkles on the top half of my face. And let’s not even start on my chins and hormonal pimples and scarring adorning them.
Sadly at the moment I can’t afford decent (or really any) beauty products. Although I’m not fond of an overly plump pout or too-smooth shiny skin IF I could afford it I would botox the hell out of the area around my eyes, and would do something about the lines on my upper lip. Not to mention my veiny, blotchy face. Lasers, pulses, blades… whatever!
Of course I’ve also recently talked about my hair… the fact I was ready to embrace (ageing) my natural colour but discovered that it wasn’t a nice grey but steel grey. Which led to the whole accidentally-dying-my-hair-brown-with-permanent-dye debacle.
I recently had to provide a headshot for someone for whom I’m possibly doing some freelance / content writing and I used a pic I had taken before my 50th birthday. Recent, but I was resplendent with makeup and dyed hair.
I look at those photographs and feel decidedly old and haggard just 18mths later. I’ve not had much luck in luring men with my womanly wiles over the past 30 years so I think I’m well and truly screwed now as my body starts to drop and my metabolism lurches to a halt.
I feel embittered though fortunately I’m too fat to be wisened.
And when I think about my looks, I wonder if it’s time to give up. Stop worrying about the wrinkles and blotches, the fact the sides of my face and eyebrows are so dry they’re peeling. Constantly.
I mean, I stopped dying my hair cos I felt like it looked too fake. Like I was trying too hard. And now I’m unhappy with it, I’m worrying it’s vain to think about colouring it again. Aren’t we supposed to embrace ageing? Gracefully?
I find it a bit of a mindfuck in all honesty. This paranoia about ageing and self-acceptance and good ol’ vanity.
Do you think there’s a fine line between ageing gracefully and steadfastly trying to hold onto one’s youth?
PS. Please please please do not leave a comment about the fact that I look okay etc. This isn’t about that. I’m truly keen for a conversation about what lengths we could / should go to to preserve ourselves as we age (and yes, I do realise it’s no one’s business but our own!).
Linking up with Denyse for Life This Week.