Time keeps flowing like a river

I’m getting older and there’s really nothing short of drastic and highly unappealing I can do to change that. I’ve been told I don’t look any older than I did ten years ago. Or maybe it’s that I can pass for ten years younger than I am. In any case, I do have good genes in that regard but looking young doesn’t change the date on my birth certificate. I don’t know why it upsets me but I feel as if society has painted getting older as a bad thing and that I should envy someone simply because she was born after me. But why? I’ve already been where she’s been and it’s not like time will stop for her either. I wouldn’t give up the wisdom I’ve gained on my journey so far to go backward. No way. I didn’t like who I was when I was younger nearly as much as I like the woman I’ve become.

That being said, sometimes I feel ashamed of getting older as if it’s something dirty.

There are a lot of things that do suck about aging besides the obvious, “closer to death” aspect. Since I’m still relatively young, most of the side effects of getting older I’ve experienced thus far are from an emotional standpoint, stemming from the impending transition from “younger” adult towards middle age.

1. The whole biological clock thing. Ok, this is an undeniable physical side effect. I don’t even know if I want children but it’s scary to think that with each passing year, my chances of conceiving the natural way are decreasing. At the same time, being younger doesn’t guarantee the ability to have children either. I try to live my life with a “what will be, will be” mentality. I just try to be happy each and every day on the assumption that everything else will take care of itself but it’s hard when not a day goes by where someone doesn’t whisper about “this one” who better start trying now if she has any hope of getting pregnant or “that one” who miraculously got pregnant at 45 or “this one” who had twins at 38 and “it was probably fertility pills.” It’s deafening.

2. The implication that a man who would otherwise be interested in me won’t pursue me out of fear I won’t be able to bear his children or simply because society considers a younger woman more of a catch. I’ve never experienced this first hand (as far as I know), yet the idea has haunted me for years. Interestingly enough, it’s other women who have instilled this fear in me; not men.

3. Raised eyebrows, inquiring questions and “woot woos” about my younger boyfriend. Yes, he’s younger but the age difference between us is many years less than the age difference between me and the guy I dated before him who was nine years older than me. Funny, there were no comments then and the age difference was several years greater. It makes me uncomfortable because I don’t think of him as younger than me. I just think of him as “Jason.”

4. Gray hair. Um, ok, I definitely have more grays than I did ten years ago and it costs more money to hide them.

5. Slowing metabolism. This has not affected me too much yet, probably because I am extremely active, but there are a few areas that seem to require more attention than they did a few years back. But I’m fighting gravity with everything I’ve got.

6. Feeling unrepresented by society. I can rarely relate to books featuring female characters my age because they are all either married with children, married trying to have children or in the process of separating because their husband left them for someone younger. Where are the books about the fabulous, haven’t-been-married-yet women who dated a lot but didn’t find “the one” and settle down until a bit later? Or those who had long term relationships that just didn’t work out like so many of my friends? Or those who aren’t even desirous of getting married? Where are the books and movies about sexy, attractive and intelligent women who are in the realm of 40 and single whether by circumstance or choice? We’re out there but because we are not represented in the media, it’s like we don’t exist. 

Aside from societal stereotypes and that damn biological clock, I don’t think younger girls have anything on me. But it’s hard sometimes not to get sucked in. Maybe some women do peak in their twenties and so as they get older, they wish they could go back. As for me, I know that I have improved in every way imaginable since my twenties except, perhaps, for my ovaries. For the following reasons, I wouldn’t go back to my twenties for anything unless I could take the new and improved, older and MUCH wiser me along for the ride:

I used to think I had all of the answers and that everything that went wrong in my life was someone else’s fault. I know better now. At the same time, since I had a more “all about me” mentality back then, I also thought someone’s mistreatment or disinterest in me was a reflection on me. Now I know that most of the time it has nothing to do with me. Someone who would mistreat me would mistreat others and I didn’t “cause” the behavior. And sometimes things just don’t work out and it’s not because I’m not pretty enough or smart enough or interesting enough. (Admittedly, I still have to remind myself of this on occasion and have a few friends who do it for me from time to time, but I didn’t have the tools in my twenties or early thirties to examine things that way.)

When I was younger, I wanted to be like someone else or like everyone else. Now I appreciate the things about me that make me different from others and I showcase them. Who wants to be like everyone else?

When I was younger, I thought wearing bigger clothing make me look thinner. Looking back at pictures, I realize I was wasting my “youthful” speedy metabolism by hiding my shape in non-flattering clothing. I work very hard to stay in good shape, as I did back then, but now I appreciate my body and wear clothes that allow others to appreciate it too. In a respectful, non-slutty like way of course 😉

When I was younger, I was too afraid of what others thought of me to openly express myself. I never would have had the guts to write and publish a novel. Not only have I written two books, but I publish a weekly blog, opening myself up to public ridicule.

I definitely make more money now!

When I was younger, I was too afraid of confrontation to speak my mind. My friends know that I still don’t like confrontation but I am much more likely to stand up for myself and not take crap I might have swallowed down a decade ago.

Back when I was younger, I had a tendency to run my mouth in the professional environment. I had a sense of entitlement I hadn’t earned. I’ve since learned to keep my mouth shut and swallow my pride in certain circumstances.

I was so afraid of rejection when I was younger that I rarely stepped out of my comfort zone and took risks. I still hate rejection but not as much as I hate the phrase “what if.”

I used to think life would just happen and I wasted more time than I care to admit just waiting. Now I know that while many things are out of our control, sometimes it is up to us to move things in the right direction.

Maybe some “girls” know all of this instinctively, no matter their age. I bet some of them sure think they do. Nevertheless, if my wisdom had to come with more years of life under my belt, a few more gray hairs and questionable ovaries, I consider it a worthy exchange.

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Comments

  1. Meredith,

    I loved this post! You captured what so many of us are feeling – fear and shame about something that is natural and inevitable.

    From what I can see older you is much better than younger you!

    • Thank you Natalie! This post was a bit difficult to write but the subject matter was on my mind and I needed to get my feelings out. I was due for a blog post and so, here we are!

  2. Meredith,

    I am bookmarking this particular blog to go back to and read again when I need to remember that getting older isn’t shameful, embrace it.

    Absolutely your fears are valid, but the woman you became appears to be ten times the girl you were.

    • Thank you Michelle – I am flattered that my blog will help you remain confident and grounded. And, while I like to believe I was a fun girl, I agree that I am better woman!

  3. Amen, sista! Thanks for reminding me of where I am now and that 40 is not a death sentence 🙂

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