As women, one of our greatest collective fears seems to be the fear of growing older. I mean, be honest: When was the last time someone you know actually looked forward to their 30th birthday? I’m only 24 years old and yet I’ve already been told numerous times by others that I should be using anti-wrinkle creams, exercising diligently, etc. in order to hold onto my youth for as long as possible. In their words, “it’s all downhill from here.”
It sounds a bit dramatic, but this advice nevertheless reveals a very real cultural narrative. So many women fear that as they age, they’ll lose their attractiveness and become “invisible” to society, or that they’ll become weak and dependent on others. Personally, I fear that I’ll someday reach 70 and realize that I never became the person I should have or accomplished the dreams I wanted to.
Yet, I wonder if any of these fears are warranted. When I spend time with older women, I’m always struck by how much I want to be like them. In many cases, there’s abundant wisdom, confidence, beauty and peace that seem to accompany their age. The older we get, the more we can look back on our lives with an enlightened sense of how much we’ve learned and grown along the way, and can come to appreciate both our past scars and our joys from the journey.
No matter how old we are, we always have the freedom to be truly ourselves (wrinkles and all) and to better the world through our unique personalities and gifts. And hopefully, as we grow older, we’ll learn to accept the physical changes and wholeheartedly embrace the mental and emotional ones — having more experiences to draw from, more understanding and self-love, more perspective, and more peace.
No matter how old we are, we always have the freedom to be truly ourselves (wrinkles and all) and to better the world through our unique personalities and gifts.
When we focus solely on the number of our years, we allow our negative perceptions about aging to diminish our inner light. Yet, if we instead recognize age as simply a measurement, we can know that what we are and how beautiful and happy we are cannot be determined by it.
Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “You don’t stop laughing when you grow old. You grow old when you stop laughing.” The fact is, no matter how young we feel, how healthy we are or how well we take care of ourselves, aging is a part of life. We can attempt to stave it off through surgical procedures and creams, but eventually it hits all of us. So, let’s welcome it as it comes and celebrate all the opportunities and the life we’ve been given with each passing year, knowing that the best truly is yet to come.
How have you seen yourself grow as you’ve gotten older? Are there any aspects of getting older you look forward to?
Image via Monica Outcalt