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
Although I am only 25, I have found that every year just keeps getting better. I know there are still many roads to cross, but I have found that the things we want most are just on the other side of hardships, and that comes with age. One of the things I admire most about my mother is the fact that she never lies about her age. In fact, even at her youthful 63, she brags about it. You can even find her playing softball with her kids/grandkids. This is definitely on the qualities I hope to inherit from her.
This is timely, as I will be celebrating my 39th birthday tomorrow! In about 20 minutes, in fact. 🙂 I haven’t minded aging too much thus far, and I try to look forward to the challenges and adventures That lie ahead. I don’t have a handle on everything, but I am learning, and I am a far more confident and happy woman in my late thirties than I’ve ever been. I would never trade my experience to regain my youth!
So reassuring to hear! Thanks for sharing, Lu 🙂 Happy birthday!
What a beautiful post. Shared. xoxo
I am in my 30s and my outer being looks younger than my inner health. In my late teens/early adulthood I was diagnosed with lupus followed by arthritis due to having hip surgery when I was three years old. As I am aging I am discovering how lupus takes affect on my body especially when lack of nutrients (i.e. iron) and/or being in the sun long term. Also, I dream of bearing a child yet there are complications due to being high risk. Does my health stop me from being a traveling missionary? Not at all. I believe I have a purpose on earth.
A year ago I became a Nu Skin Distributor because I see the need of my aging parents and I don’t want to see their illnesses to take over them. As I take the vitamins and ageLOC Youth capsules I encourage them to take them when I take them too. I encourage my parents & my sisters to live a healthy, happy, and take one day at a time.
Isn’t March Nutrition month?
On a whim, I wrote a letter of advice to my almost-16 year old cousin. One of the points seems to resonate: “The world rewards youth like it is an accomplishment, not the inherent condition of our bodies at the start of our concise stints on this planet. If you start thinking like this now, like your youth is a shiny gold star, you will soon convince yourself that aging is a personal failure. You will regard time as a competition, and you will beat yourself bloody trying to swim against it. Sit at the centre of time and let it wash over you. Let it push up against you and erode you into something better than beauty.”
This is a lesson I’ve yet to fully internalize. Thanks for the reminder to practice what I preach.
Well put, Liz! Such a great quote there. Your cousin is lucky to have you as a role model!
At 53, as someone who has never been externally beautiful, it has been enlightening to watch my physically beautiful friends try to deal with the difference in how society treats them as they age. I would strongly recommend not only recognizing that physical changes are inevitable, but also not basing your self-worth on how you look or how others perceive/react to your looks. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief down the road and be happier now.
Wow, what a great perspective and beautiful advice. Thank you for sharing!
Also a youngin at 24, it helps having older women who don’t trouble themselves about physical appearances around you to act as mentors. The ones who have mentored me have also often demonstrated a kind of calmness or ability to live without a focus on anxiety, something that I wrestle with daily. Their own life-change stories are sources of encouragement for change. I’ve seen myself change in that respect and look forward to mentoring younger women around me in similar ways in the future (and in some ways, now)!
I completely agree, Karli! Happy to hear you’ve been blessed with great women mentors in your life.
Thank you for this piece! I’m also very young (I’m 22) and it’s easy to forget that their is beauty in aging.