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I’m Just Going to Get Old, Thanks

Maybe you have this problem too: I’m getting older all the time.

As I approach my mid-thirties, hints of middle age are becoming apparent in my body. Stray gray hairs, the beginnings of lines on my forehead. It turns out that I am not, like Jennifer Lopez or Paul Rudd, some kind of blessed vessel of unchanging beauty. 

My targeted ads know it, too. The almighty algorithm presents me with suggestions for facial fillers, preposterous shapewear, and seven-step skincare systems. All of these things are certainly fine. But taken together, they seem to say, Your time is already running out. Your currency is falling. 

And yet, I’m not even halfway to retirement age. God may well decide to give me another five or six decades in this particular meat suit. That’s a long time to stave off change. 

And honestly, I’ve liked the changes I’ve seen so far. Why would I want to look how I looked 10 years ago, when I feel so much better now? Why would I want to go back to then? Why would I ignore the reality that every year I age brings abundant sources of joy, pleasures I couldn’t have fathomed the year before? 

Why would an ancient sequoia aspire to be seen as a sapling? 

It’s a hard, patriarchal, unjust world, and I don’t begrudge anyone who chooses differently. I am blessed with the privilege of earning my salary online (arguably my best forum). More than that, I relish the incipient invisibility that comes with being a female-coded person getting older every day. I never enjoyed being looked at like ripe fruit, as if my postadolescent body were a fire sale — ACT NOW FOR THE BEST DEALS! 

Older men used to leer at me, beginning trailing sentences with “If I was your age…” Now, as I actually become closer in age to these men, their eyes slide past me. It’s like I’ve unlocked a superpower. 

I’m sure I’ll change my mind about all of this aging business in the future — several times, probably. While a few things are constant (my love of the 1998 Disney film Mulan, my fascination for the Latin language, my stoic refusal to learn how to parallel park), I find that most of who I am is mercifully in flux, constantly getting little software upgrades and bug fixes and new features. It turns out most people are that way, if you pay attention and ask the right questions.

I don’t look how I did 10 years ago. I’m not the same person. And 10 years from now, I’ll be a different person again, in ways I can’t imagine right now. And I will definitely, inevitably, look older.

I look forward to seeing it. 

Featured photo by Nina Luong on Unsplash.

Published inPersonal

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© Mary Gaulke 2023