I was asked to contribute to discussion group about aging in our 40’s.... Honestly, this is hard to accept, but I like who I am and here is what I wrote...
The Old Lady in the Mirror or the Sum of all Parts
Good idea, good thing to quote, there are many parts that make up the sum of the equation that make us, well us, or women. I agree with what Marie has to say, there is more to us than what we see in the mirror, I am going to give you my limited experience, which means I can only talk about me, how others perceive me is their problem. I can’t change their views or opinions so I can’t talk about others, well, because I am not them and their experience is different.
To each of us the idea of aging comes differently and we all deal with it differently, which is why talking about it is mostly a good thing. I am not going to be blessed enough to look like my mother, who is a natural beauty and never had prematurely greying hair. BUT Is there anything wrong with the box of dye I use to colour my hair? I don’t think so, it just a part of the sum, a small part of the equation. I need that box of dye to aid me in working on my inner self and YES I having trouble dealing with aging...you're damn right, not ashamed to admit it! If this box of dye makes me, feel better in some small superficial way...then by the God’s! I am going to do it. Yes, I do try to look younger, feel younger, (and I don’t feel a day over 30) and yes I have no control over my aging body unless I take it to the “BODY SHOP” and have a nip, tuck and lift overhaul! That is not going to happen. The jowls are going to happen, the my crone face will appear, but Crone is a harsh word, and has bad connotations, so I will say , the face of wisdom and a well living life, will appear, but for now I will dye my hair, get my nails done and try every skin cream out there! Does that make me a cop out, and a bad example? No, I do not think so. I still do not wear more than eye makeup; I do not sleep in socks with petroleum jelly on my feet. I will look after myself as much as I can, with my box of dye on my hair! Until I am ready to set that aside and feel confident to be my well lived self. Most importantly, it makes me feel good about the outside of me, which will go through to the inner me, then so be it, but it is a small part of the sum. But if some feel the sum of who they are needs a nip and a tuck...then who am I to judge. Go to her girlfriend! If this aids in working on the inside, by taking the mind off the outside, do it!
Now in saying all of the above, I would not want to be young again. I like who I have become and becoming. I am stronger woman in so many ways. I take no shit from no one. I say what I have to, to be heard. I do not dress to please others; I dress for me, to make me feel confident and sexy. In that way, I am being ME. BUT the Confidence is what I need more than the sexy. I want to be that woman who people notice and are not sure why, and it is not that I am sexy or all that good looking to others, it is that confidence that they see and feel emanating from me. THIS is what I want younger woman to notice about me and yes men too...both need to learn what an older woman has to offer and can make others notice. So the answer to this equation is Confidence which emulates from the inside rules! And others will see this above the hair dye and the nip tuck. Yes, I am still on the superficial as some may call it...but our outside is part of the sum.
Now I will tell you another story, another part of the equation that adds up to my total sum. 4 years ago I walked into University for the first time in my life. Scared! I had no clue if this was right for me...but I do have a group of women friends who supported and still support me in this endeavour. I could not have done this without them, my family, and the Professors, that knew damn well how unsure of myself to be there. Or maybe they could see it, I don't know. Going back to University, I think this is confidence building for me. In this way, I am working on the inner me, my mind, forcing me to deal with myself worth on my own terms. I had to deal with looking at all these smart and beautiful young women, and feel, well OLD, so out of place and not very smart. I remember thinking...OMG what have I done to myself, I don't belong here!!! At the time I thought it was the worse thing I could have done for my self-esteem. But as I grew and worked, and struggled with relearning to learn, BOY had things changed since I was last in school! Learning it was ok to be me, and ask for help, started to see who I was and who I was becoming was not so bad, to find that confidence within. The young people saw that confidence, and wanted to know what I had to say, asked questions, some you will not believe and others I have had to set straight, well with my experience. I enjoy hearing their view points and how they are different from whom I was at that age, but their experience is different from mine. They do come looking for me, wanting to take classes with me. And it is confidence building and enlightening to see so many view points. Some good, some well....
Where am I going with all these sums? Well, they are all sums that add up to the one equation that is me. Yes, most days I look in the mirror and go WHO THE HELL IS THAT? When did she arrive and how can I get rid of her, but what I am looking at is the sum of the outside, and I have to remember the inside. That is the part I like. Even though there is some more work to do too but I am constantly creating myself, and I quote George Bernard Shaw “You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul”. I will keep creating the art of my inside and use the mirror to see if I succeed in being, happy with whom I am now, for tomorrow I will change and grow yet again with my hair dye in the closet waiting for the next touch up.