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Who wants to grow old gracefully? Not me
“But I don’t want to grow old gracefully. I want to fight it kicking and screaming.”
I found myself saying that to a friend earlier this week. I’m 42, and frankly, I’m starting to notice it. I can’t stay up until 4am at a party anymore. Well, I can, but I really pay for it the next day…. Things that were once exactly the way I wanted them are, well, quite a bit less exact. Growing old gracefully is for the birds.
Admitting that my appearance isn’t what I’d like it to be is hard. It’s not fun finding gray, or as I call them “silver” hairs, here and there and there. Neither is noticing that the wrinkle on my forehead is getting a bit more noticeable. Or finding that I need heavier duty skin care products to keep from feeling so dry. Don’t even get me started on the “back when I was a size 2” days… Things change, and most of the time, I’m okay with that. But this getting older thing? Not so much.
I still think of myself as young and carefree. I still have the mindset of a woman in her late twenties living in the body of a 42-year-old. When I picture myself, I see the old me – not the me reflected back at me in the mirror with the round face and the gray hairs. In this image of myself, I’m a lot thinner, blonder, and all around a whole lot more fabulous.
And that’s where I get into trouble.
When your external positive attitude and your private inner thoughts don’t match
Those who know me or who have been reading here at The Awesome Muse for a while know that I’m all about loving yourself, embracing your flaws, and celebrating you just the way you are. But even having what I consider to be a healthy attitude, sometimes self-doubt creeps in, and I want to smack it down. “Yes, you are still fabulous. Yes, you are still attractive. Of course you can still go after anything you want.” That’s something I have to tell myself from time to time, along with a ton of other things.
I think many of us feel these things even if we have positive mindsets about aging and the changes that come with getting older. For those of us who have a tendency to let thoughts of self-doubt creep in more often than we’d like, other people’s expectations of us are just too much sometimes. The pressure can be overwhelming. And nobody needs that.
I have to be honest and admit that I’m not ready for some of these changes. Frankly, I want to punch these changes back so that I don’t have to deal with them until I feel like I’m ready to. I don’t feel old, so I don’t want to look old.
That’s where I find myself at a crossroads between what I think I should feel and what I really feel.
You see, I pride myself on embracing empowering feminist ideals. I should be able to be who I am and to hell with what anyone else has to say about it, right? But it’s not always that easy. I do care, and I wish I didn’t. I see my waistline that’s far from ideal or feel that my skin is not as smooth as it once was.
And I’m kind of pissed off about it.
And then it hit me.
It’s up to you to decide how you want to experience the aging process
The feminist ideal should really be about being authentic to ourselves, however that may be. And if my truth is being pissed off at the aging process, then so be it. I’m gonna fight it tooth and nail. And if you want to embrace the aging process, that’s your truth. I’m tired of people telling us we have to be this or that. At the end of the day, I’m only answerable to myself when it comes to how I perceive my self-image.
I’m gonna do me. And I hope you do you — imperfections and all. I’m going to do something about the things I can improve that I want to improve or change because that’s what I want to do and is what makes me feel good.
You’ll find no judgment from me whether you decide to get botox or let your gray hair come in. You will find support if you want to get a neck lift or if you want to hang out in sweat pants all day. If you don’t want to wear heels anymore, or if they’ll pry your Jimmy Choos from your cold, dead hands, you’re still the same person I’ve always wanted to hang out with.
The margarita(s) will taste just as good in heels or in flats, right?
So to heck with growing old gracefully, whatever that means. I’m doing it my way.
What I’m doing to fight growing old gracefully
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. So I thought I’d share with you some of the things that I’m doing to at least attempt to slow down the aging process. What are friends for, right?
The biggest thing I’m doing is trying to get better control of my health. I’ve got some challenges that throw a monkey wrench at me from time to time, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. At the end of the day, I’m the only one who can really make a huge difference in my health, so it’s up to me to make sure that I take charge of what I can and do the work.
I’m going to adjust my perception of myself to that of forgiveness. I’m not perfect. I get that. Sometimes, I’m just going to put that donut in my mouth. I’ve learned that it’s not worth beating myself up about it. But I can be the best version of myself if I choose to do the work mentally and physically. In a recent interview series with Oprah that I published, she talked about how important it is to just do the work. Nothing else really matters if you’re doing the work. The outcome will be what it will be. But if you don’t try, forget about it.
My product choices
And since I’m being honest, I use high quality products. I’m not using any crap with harmful ingredients anymore. Those days are behind me. I’m not saying you have to run out and buy a $200 night crème (but if you do, that’s your prerogative, and I totally want to hear all about it), but be mindful of the quality of what you’re using. You don’t have to spend a fortune to make better choices about what you put on your skin.
I’m really grateful that I took good care of my skin in my 20s. I’m going to keep on doing that, although my needs are different now from what they used to be. And I’m not afraid to try some new things, even if they sound kind of wacky.
Since this isn’t a post where we’re specifically talking about product reviews, I’m just going to let you know about a few of my favorites, and why I like them.
For my skin
I need a gentle exfoliating cleanser to keep my skin in good condition. I’m allergic to some of the usual suspects – salicylic acid, willow bark extract, and to things with menthol. So I was thrilled to find a new cleanser from a company called Belli Beauty. It exfoliates my skin gently using lactic acid, and it is free of all the bad stuff. It’s called Belli because it was developed to be a safe exfoliating skincare line for pregnant women. I’m using the Anti-Blemish Facial Wash, and it’s so nice and gentle. It’s really great if you get a hormonal acne flare up. I thought those days were behind me…. Raise your hand if you know how that feels.
To keep my skin nice and tight, I’m using a snail serum. Yep, that’s right. Snail. Serum. It sounds crazy and kind of gross, but it really makes my skin feel great. I use one from South Korea. Yes, I’ve jumped partially onto the K-beauty bandwagon. I’m using two things from SMD Cosmetics: the Saromae Snail Serum Concentrate and the Saromae Radiance Emulsion Brightening Moisturizer. They help my skin feel moisturized, smoother, and I’m seeing a reduction in uneven skin tone and redness, too.
Another K-Beauty brand I love is Erborian. I use three of their products. I use their Black Cleansing Oil when my skin gets congested, the Bamboo Waterlock Mask when my skin feels dry, and the Glow Creme to give me some additional radiance. The Glow Creme takes about 10 years off in my humble opinion. It really makes a difference on how I feel I look.
I use sunscreen regularly. Protecting my skin from the sun has always been a priority, and is one that I hope helps me fight the aging process. I’ve written about my sun protection regimen before, and I still love those products.
For my spirit
It’s important to me that I keep myself on track, so if I need a kick in the butt about how I’m feeling about getting older, I’ve got a couple of favorite books to turn to. I recommend both of these books to my friends all the time, and I think you may also find them helpful. I’m fortunate to personally know both of the authors, too!
The first one is for my physical health. It’s called Your Vibrant Heart. It’s written by my cardiologist, Dr. Cynthia Thaik, and it offers so much wisdom. I particularly love that it’s full of wisdom about how to live a more healthy life from both traditional western and eastern medicine. Dr. Cynthia offers so many ways to help you live a healthier and happier life. I’ve incorporated many of her suggestions into my lifestyle with terrific results.
The second book I often turn to is more for when I need to give my attitude about aging an adjustment. It is called It’s Not Over Yet: Reclaiming Your Beauty Power in Your 40s, 50s and Beyond by my friend Sally Van Swearingen. Sally is a fabulous makeup artist, who also happens to do great hair, working in the entertainment industry. Her tips for how to look and feel beautiful are so meaningful as we experience aging.
A lot of us forget sometimes that being beautiful is about more than what’s on the outside. While that may matter to some of us, our beauty power comes from within. But it’s totally okay if you want to be pretty on the outside too! Who says we can’t have both? Sally offers all kinds of tips and tricks to help you navigate the changes you’re facing. She’s certainly helped me adapt!
So let’s get older together, our way, beautifully. No one needs to grow old gracefully if they don’t want to do so.
You may also enjoy reading:
If you are embracing your gray hair, (and why not?) you may enjoy this piece about Kim Jones’s experience with letting her gray hair fly free. And she’s stunning!
Philosophy also offers up some great anti-aging products. Carmelita Bouie reports on an event introducing their Cool Ager campaign.
I don’t think I’m alone in struggling with change and perfection. You may enjoy this series on embracing our imperfection. It’s hard, but we try.
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