Few myths persist as pervasively as the idea that youth equates to beauty. I once feared the idea of aging. This may sound silly, but even turning 25 this year scared me! After a lot of soul-searching, though, I realized that I shouldn’t dread each passing year so much. My aging body is the result of a million triumphs over adversity, and so is yours! Aging is inevitable, so here are five ways I’ve made peace with getting older:
1. I realized that your spirit announces your presence more than Botox.
I wondered how I could afford costly Botox injections so that I could keep my youthful glow forever. Hey, I’m only human. I knew that I couldn’t avoid every sign of aging, but I wanted to put up a good fight.
When my aunt recently got carded for buying a bottle of wine, though, she rejoiced on social media. And do you know what? Not too many folks cared about her youthful looks.
Conversely, a goofy picture of her in a political T-shirt garnered a flurry of likes and heart emojis. Why? The people who care about you don’t want to see you fretting over something you can’t change like getting older. They do, however, want to witness your personal and professional accomplishments. Your spirit and successes speak to who you are more loudly than the way you look.
2. I celebrate celebrities who look real.
Youthful faces typically grace magazine covers and online advertisements, while commercials featuring older adults often depict them with some type of infirmity. Rarely do you see depictions of silver-haired grannies scaling intense boulders, even though this phenomenon does regularly exist “in the wild!”
I switched from idolizing airbrushed models with impossibly dewy complexions to celebrating women who represent real beauty at any age. When I look at Dame Judy Dench, for example, I don’t see an aging actress; I see a performer at the peak of her career. When I see Carrie Fisher in the new generation of “Star Wars” films, I see a visage more lovely in its honesty than the “forever young” look that my childhood self envied.
3. I understand that I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.
Unless you wear a stethoscope to the office or scored a role on “Real Stories of the ER,” you’re not a doctor (nor do you play one on TV). Chances are, you don’t have the rare disorder you that you read about online and subsequently convinced yourself you’ll die from.
To keep my sanity, I don’t check online medical sites — and for the most part, you should give them up, too. Because I’m a health blogger, quitting health sites is a bit more difficult for me to do than most. So if I can do it, you can, too. Remember, unless your pain is scarily severe, unlike anything you’ve experienced before, it’s probably not going to kill you. By all means, make an appointment with your doc if you’re concerned, but don’t assume that you have a rare disease just because you consulted Dr. Google.
4. I marvel in my strength as I get older.
Too often, we equate growing older with infirmity. However, compare aging to a fitness training regimen — it requires time before you see results. Instead of assuming that growing older means slowing down, look at age as an opportunity to explore your strengths. After all, the older you get, the more you establish yourself in your career. Hopefully you have more free time to exercise and try new hobbies.
Give that rock-climbing wall at the fair a go or backpack the Appalachian Trail for two weeks. Don’t get in the way of doing the things that you want to try.
5. I recognized that smooth skin comes and goes, but a beautiful soul is eternal.
You guys, I can’t put into words how liberating it is when you free yourself from impossible ideals of physical perfection. I don’t care if you’re wealthier than Midas and have Kim K’s impeccable genes. Eventually, the wrinkles at the corners of your eyes won’t relax when you stop smiling, but keep beaming those pearly whites anyway.
When you don’t worry about how you look, you’re free to become who you truly are: not the visage you see reflected in the mirror, but the person full of dreams and ideals. You can follow your inner passion without thwarting it with your fear of looking silly, which is the ultimate freedom.
We can plan to get more facelifts than a diva, but eventually we all lose the ability to hide the fact that we’re growing older. So start establishing healthy boundaries with aging now, whether you’re 25 or 50. Instead of fighting the aging process and allowing it to trigger your anxieties, embrace your true beauty at any age.