It’s my birthday today.
I haven’t really celebrated it much these last few years, disenchanted with the idea of growing older. I’ve struggled with aging ever since my mid-twenties, feeling the doom of approaching thirty without being “where I should be” in life. Even though I’ve abandoned any idea of benchmarks in life at certain ages, I still have a hard time with watching myself grow older. I looked much younger than I was for most of my life, but that’s changing in my late thirties. As a woman, and a former actress, it’s hard to let go of the stigma around looking like, well, a woman in her late thirties.
I want to feel differently. I don’t want to be someone who shrinks away from all the lessons I’ve learned and wisdom I’ve gained in these years of my life. I am proud of who I am, what I’ve learned, and who I will yet become. It’s not about that. I admire those who embrace aging wholeheartedly, but it’s still very difficult for me to let go of caring about how old I look. I appreciate everything my life has taught me, but I don’t appreciate it when those lessons show up on my face!
I share this because I know that embracing your own aging process is incredibly difficult, especially as a woman living in this image-focused society. It’s so easy for us to support other women and boost their confidence. It’s harder to do so for ourselves. We’ve been brainwashed all our lives to believe that looking younger is better, no matter what. That’s tough conditioning to reverse.
I am working on letting go of any vanity or preconceived notions around aging. I am working on remembering that each birthday means another beautiful year of life here on this earth, a year that I am never guaranteed. When I think of it that way, then yes, I can appreciate and celebrate my birthday. I can give thanks for my life, and do, every single day – regardless of new wrinkles, grey hairs, or fresh sun spots. I know they aren’t truly important.
So what if we all embrace aging? What if we defy everything we’ve been taught by a judgmental, ageist, sizeist, youth-worshipping society?
With every day, I know that I grow and evolve. Aging is simply an opportunity to get better. It’s an opportunity to take everything you’ve learned, everything you love, everything that makes you unique, and celebrate it. Aging is inevitable. Let’s start embracing it rather than dreading it.