Dreamboat says I’ve a tendency to be a martyr.
I’m not saying he’s right. (But, he may be right.)
I need to give a disclaimer here that this post is going to be shallow. Maybe even vapid. There’s no excuse. But, I took a vow of honesty, so here goes a spotlight into that part of my personality.
Getting older sucks.
I’ve watched my grandparents this week. (We’re gearing up for Grandpa’s 90th birthday party this weekend!) The amazing and beautiful legacy they have created will last for many, many, many, many generations to come. But, still, they’re old. And they know it. And it’s hard.
Because people treat them differently.
People don’t automatically see the nearly 70 years they’ve been dedicated to each other. Or the businesses they’ve created. Or the children they’ve reared (and the hundreds of thousands of lives changed by those offspring and their spouses). Or the grandchildren who are continuing with their lives’ work, to impact those less fortunate. Or their brilliance. Or their kindness. Or their wisdom. Or even their inner-teenager-troublemaker-at-a-moment’s-notice.
People see them as old.
And I’m getting old. (See how I made this is about me?)
Before 40, I didn’t have a single grey hair. In the teeny bit of time since then, I’m stunned by the number of non-blond hairs (ok. Some should be DARK blond too. That’s all I’m admitting here.) And the lines on my face. And that the skin on my neck is sagging. And that when I caught sight of my reflection in one of the very few full-length mirrors we’ve had during our travels, I thought I saw an old woman!
I have to tell you how much I looked forward to turning 40. I truly did. I felt like finally, I had achieved the proper age number to support my experience. That I would not be disqualified for executive roles for being too young. That my age was a badge of honor and long-awaited entrance to the ‘inner circle of the wise’.
That lasted 5 minutes. (Or two years, if you’re being literal.)
But as the international portion of our year of travel started to wind down, and I started to think about going back to work, the more I became aware of the downsides of getting older.
I’m no longer the ‘young hire’ with the fresh, new ideas. I’m no longer the cheap hire. I’m no longer at a place where I want, or am able, to try new things ‘just because’.
And that’s just the work-related issues.
It doesn’t matter that I feel (and sometimes act) twenty-two-years-old. I’ve just turned forty-three. And it’s caused me to take stock of where I am in life. To evaluate my contribution.
And I’ve come up lacking.
I understand why many of those I know are divorcing. Moving. Buying mansions and sports cars. Writing books (which I totally want to do).
I am getting a first-hand-look at the motivators behind a mid-life-crisis. I get it. I feel it.
I want my life to count. I want meaning and fulfillment in, and from, my relationships. I want my internal beauty to make an indelible impact. For me, it’s for those less fortunate, for the downtrodden. And I feel like I’ve not made a dent. There’s so. Much. More. To. Be. Done.
And, of course I’m being honest here, so I have to admit I want my external beauty to last, too. I want the men who ogle to stop getting older (well, sort-of. At least stay in the thirty to fifty year-old-range. I draw the line when they’re young enough to be my offspring. Ewww.) But, why is it my eyelashes need to thin and break? (Who are the nasty little elves that yank them off my sleeping lids each night and give them to my Littles??) Are the sun spots really necessary? Does the skin under my arms have to loosen up and swing back and forth when I wave? Do the pores on my nose really need to be big enough to welcome the family dog into their crevices?
I feel like I could write the book “What to Expect When You’re Aging,” except no-one would buy it. No-one wants to know what the downhill slide really looks like. I don’t.
Getting older, and doing it gracefully, is hard.
By the way, what does “age gracefully” really mean? Every time Dreamboat objects to a (costly) spa treatment I would like, he says that to me. Does it mean, hush up, don’t mention what’s going on, and pretend not to notice? Does it mean stand proud and smile through the lines? Does it mean fall on every Botox-filled needed you can find? Does it mean cover up the damage as best you can with lotions, spackling (some might call it make-up), push-up bras, and long sleeves?
I’ve no idea what ‘gracefully’ looks like for me, as I age. So far, every day has a different answer. But, I see the ageism in our society. I watch people interact with my grandparents. I see HR folks’ reaction to my resume.
But, I am going to identify with my inner twenty-two-year-old, who convinces me, on a daily basis, to work at being healthy, inside and out. And I’m going to throw ‘mature’ caution to the wind. I will continue to dream. To achieve. To try new things. To look for learning and wisdom. To nurture existing, and build new, meaningful relationships. To (hopefully) one day, adopt more children. To try new bleaching solutions for my grey hair.
So, whether Dreamboat is right or wrong about me being a martyr, I don’t know (or won’t admit). But, in regards to getting older, I will not lie down and take it (unless it’s under an aesthetician’s lamp).
I will not be a martyr.
I want to change the world. Enlarged pores and all.