Fortune just released their top 30 under 30; and some magazines also do top 40 xyz under 40…but after that? Apparently, after you turn 40 there’s nothing remarkable about your success with regards to your age. By the time you’re forty plus you are now old enough to be successful without people rolling out the red carpet under your feet. Whether we like it or not success looks extra good and special on the young – and now that I’m not that young anymore, that just pisses me off.
Today my husband said, “And next year you’re going to hit the big four O.” I immediately got defensive and said, “No. I’m going to be 39 this year.” And then he said, “This year, yes, but next year it’s bye-bye thirties.”
I’m going to go ahead and admit it. I don’t like getting old(er). After I turned thirty five it’s not been the same. Well, the downhill cycle began after I turned thirty when suddenly my metabolism took a dive and I started to put on weight by just looking at French fries (which is the work of the devil). But I was still in my early thirties and there was still hope – yes, I was still young and all my dreams were going to come true.
I met a friend of mine recently when I was in California and he said something interesting and haunting about ageing.
“When you’re young you think, yeah there’s time and I’ll do this and be that. Then suddenly you’re in your forties and you’ve done squat. You’re not a Vice President at some snazzy company or a best-selling author or any of the things you thought you’d be. And that’s when you start to realize that you’re never going to get there, wherever it is you thought you were going to get to. That realization? That’s what it means to get old.”
As I have been getting older I have started to notice that the world is becoming more and more ageist. Of course, the world has always been ageist and I didn’t feel it when I was twenty and had perky breasts.
But now as everything is going south and wide, I can feel it. I’m not the youngest person in the room anymore. I’m not the brightest and the youngest in the room either. I’m expected to be as wise as I am because I’m thirty eight and not eighteen. The stuff I could get away with when I was younger is just not plausible – you know, like drinking Coke (not the diet stuff) or staying up all night to work on a book and then head on to work all bright and sunshine the morning after.
Getting old has also meant a whole lot of physical maintenance. In my younger days I didn’t have to worry which way the stripes went because the body was so well behaved – but now I find myself often looking at my butt in the mirror, asking my husband, “Do I have a big ass?” “Does this dress show my belly?” “Do you think I’m fat?” “How fat?” “Fatter than A and B?”
I worry about the grays in my hair because they pop up all the time and I have to take care of my face; apparently, the skin starts to wrinkle and if you don’t baby it with half of Dior’s moisturizing anti-wrinkle product line it just dissipates and falls apart. And adding insult to injury is adult acne. I’m thirty eight, I’m about to die soon and my skin is breaking out at the drop of a hat. My facial person says it’s the stress and that she sees this a lot in women my age because we’re stressing out.
I thought that when I grew up I’d be more certain of myself but I find that it’s sometimes the other way around. I feel more vulnerable, less invincible.
But I think the worst part of growing up and growing old has been the realization that not everything is possible. In my twenties I could do anything. I knew I could do anything. Now that I am older I know that I will never ever win the Miss Universe pageant (this was never a real dream) or climb Mount Everest ever or have Cindy Crawford’s body unless I have a terminal disease.
My father would say “Age isn’t important, it’s what’s in your dil (heart).” And my father-in-law who bought himself a Yamaha sports motorcycle for his seventieth birthday would agree.
I want to believe that it’s all in the heart. I want to believe that there is still time for all my dreams (even the Cindy Crawford body one without the terminal disease) to come true – but it gets harder to believe when you’re unable to realize your dreams a
nd I have the distinct feeling that you’re running out of time…all the time.
Maybe I just need to get a little older to be more Zen about my age.
A friend of mine once told me, “In my forties I was so scared and unsure of myself; it was terrible. In my fifties I had a blast. I felt like a sensuous woman and I had many lovers. Sixties…that’s not as much fun, you know what with the health stuff that starts to pop up.”
I think the truth is somewhere in between. You feel your age physically, no doubt about it – but emotionally I think until the clock is ticking you still have time. So make it good! That’s my plan at least – that and to buy better face care products from the teenage aisle.