A friend was picking through my hair the other day and while I worried he was looking for gnats or other nasties, it turns out he was kindly pulling out some of the gray hairs. It made me feel my age a little and I thought of the tale I’d heard, that says for every gray hair you pull out, five more grow in its place. It seems that every which way I turn these past few weeks, there is another reminder of how old I am.
If it’s not the gray hair reminding me, it’s the achy bones and sore muscles in the morning after a bout of running amok with my daughter, or the knowledge that I am out of the loop as to what the latest lingo is or the new fads, or the fact that I can’t pull an all-nighter without paying for it the whole following week.
I finally feel as though I am looking and feeling my age.
The other day a friend of mine turned 30 and was all of a sudden feeling ‘old’. For some reason hitting the three decades mark made her feel as though she was no longer part of the world of the young, flouncy and bouncy. The number meant she was almost middle aged, haggard, pretty much over the hill even it seemed.
Numbers are kind of funny that way. I remember when I was 12 and I never thought I would live to be 25 because it just sounded sooo old. I couldn’t wait to be 16 because certain privileges were associated with that magic number and of course there was the ‘sweet 16’ party. The next magic number was 18, when you could legally drink and had a duty to vote, but then that was it. All the other numbers were dreaded as though there were negative connotations associated with them. Turning 20 was seen as somewhat of a sad thing as the teenage years were left behind and turning 30 meant that you were definitely no longer young.
Numbers in age have become associated with all sorts of things in life. Like how by the time you are in your late 20’s, you should be done with school and getting a job. By the time you are in your 30’s, you should be settling down with a wife or husband, having kids in that new house you just bought. Society projects these images on us through the media and we tuck them away in our subconscious, yet are still somewhat guided by them. We basically let ourselves feel as old as the media will let us. If we are not in good physical shape, then we look older than we are, if we don’t dress in the latest fashion, we look older and out of date, if we are not up on the latest crazes and lingo, then we are old fuddy duddies speaking some outdated language.
So as my friend was lamenting over the fact that she felt old, it turned out that she actually only felt that the number meant she was old. Being 30 made her really self-conscious, she wondered what people would think when they saw her and found out she was 30.1 told her of a thought I’d had the other week. I was kind of wondering the same thing, thinking that other people might think that I was old but that I knew how young and immature I was inside. I remember how when I was a young pupsqueak, I thought that at least when I got ‘old’, I would know everything I needed to know. I thought I would feel like an adult, whatever that meant, I just figured I would learn that through experience. But to tell the truth I still feel as young and unknowing as I ever did, I just don’t know about different things than that which I didn’t know when I was young. After telling my friend this, she realized that she too has felt that way, as though she’s really not as old as her age would have people think she is.
I’m not ancient or anything, I’m only 32.1 once did think that it was ancient but these days I think it’s still pretty young. I may not move as fast as I did when I was 22 and places that were once taut and firm are somewhat saggy and stretched, but hey, I am 32 and I have had a child. I can only hope as I continue to put on the years, which I now hope I will continue to do for quite a while, that I will age gracefully. I don’t want it to be a negative experience whereby I’ll be swayed to try all those fountain of youth gimmicks and lotions and potions that will guarantee to restore my looks to their once pristine youthful beauty. These days I have no desire to magically go back to the age of 16, or even 25. While they were fun years, they were also really draining emotionally and psychologically as I struggled with identity and all that other stuff.
I like feeling that I am still walking around with the mind of a youngster to some degree, that I am still figuring things out and still being amazed by all the wonders of the world. I have adjusted to having so much gray hair, I like that it has been said to signify wisdom. I like thinking that I have ‘earned’ these hairs and will continue to earn them as I age.