On my last visit back to New York, I had a really great catch up dinner with a lifelong friend. I was getting out of her car after saying good night and heard her call out “You look like your mom!” I laughed and thanked her, knowing it was true. My mom is pretty awesome and I know that my friend meant it as a compliment…
My mom is in her seventies and now I’m in my forties and, for the first time in my life, I’m acutely aware that I’m aging and that my outer appearance might actually start to reflect this aging.
It starts with no longer being asked for ID and then men in their twenties start calling you “Ma’am”. People automatically assume you’re a Missus and not a Miss. Then you start to feel a bit invisible or disposable or not so important anymore. Maybe you don’t. Maybe I don’t really either, but I am aware that how I’m viewed has changed in the past few years, albeit subtly. I’m sad that this bothers me.
I wasn’t really ever the pretty one. I was the smart one or the funny one or the adventurous one. (And these are all good things!) But I never felt pretty. I don’t remember anyone really telling me I was pretty, least of all myself. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I tied an awful lot of my self-worth to whether or not my attractiveness could be confirmed by sources that mattered at the time. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that confirmation of my attractiveness seems to have mattered to me a fair amount.
It’s only in the past few years that I’ve loved myself enough to start to let that go and to revel in what I have, including my intelligence, my sense of humor, my personal style, and the opportunities I have to travel. I’ve also started to appreciate my physical attributes for what they are and try to practice being happy in my skin.
But that skin is changing…literally. A reminder that there are many phases and stops on this journey. Life is a process full of constant growth and change. It is also the beginning of the end from Day One and that’s a concept that I find strangely full of optimism.
Now I’m off to slather on some sunscreen, drink some water and hope for the best. I’m optimistic about that, too.