Coming to terms with aging, a process that stops for no one

Thursday, May 8, 2014

While out on a run the other day, dressed in my black capris, a Run Swiftly Tech Shirt (the BEST), my new sneakers, my hair in a high ponytail, and my trusty Ray Ban's, I noticed that guys that were driving by were totally staring.  Staring and even turning their heads away from the road to check me out.  For a second I felt uncomfortable, but then it hit me, "I'm back!".  Woot.  Woot.  I had to smile because it has taken a lot of work to get back here and after having the baby, I wasn't sure I would be able to get back here.

With the exception of my slight pouch at the end of the day, due to my diastasis, I look like my old pre-miscarriage/pre-pregnancy self and people are finally noticing again.  It feels great.  I have never been what you would describe as a knock-out beauty.  I think most people would probably use the word "cute" rather than "hot" to describe me  I have that "girl next door" kind of look.  That has always been me.  Oh and I have always looked a few years younger than my real age (this annoyed me when I was in high school), which helps me look more attractive right now.  Right now.  Youth.  Fleeting, attractive, shallow, youth.  

After soaking in some head turns, hollers, and honks (yes, apparently middle-aged men still honk and holler), I starting thinking about my age.  How long will I be considered "cute"?  How long will guys continue to turn their heads when I run by and not even notice me?  How long will I get checked out when wearing heels and a skirt while walking through the city at lunch?  No woman ever wants to feel like an object, but I think every woman wants to feel attractive.  At what point will my attractiveness wear off and will I just be plain...old?  

My birthday is next week and I'll be, ever so gracefully, heading into my mid-30s.  You know what?  I am scared.  Getting older is always something that has always frightened me, but up until recently, I had this idea that somehow it wouldn't happen to me.  Somehow I would be the one person in history to look, feel, and act this age forever.  Ha.  Can you say crazy?  I know full well that no one is young forever.  Supermodels age; they get old and wrinkly.  Unfortunately no one is young and beautiful forever, but in a shallow society like ours that puts so much emphasis on youth=beauty, it is no wonder I (or any other woman) feel(s) upset when they think about aging.

I had a conversation with a close co-worker yesterday and we got to talking about this very topic of aging.  She said that she was walking to work that morning and happened to look into a window to see her reflection.  When she saw what was projected back to her on the glass, she though to herself, "When did I become a frumpy old lady?"

My co-worker is in her late 40s, so in the scheme of this earth, she isn't technically old, but middle-aged.  Once an avid exerciser, she has stopped working out regularly and has gained quite a bit of weight in the past few years.  She has high cholesterol, needs to wear reading glasses to see her computer screen, and cut her hair short.  She told me that she felt like everything went down hill when she turned 45 and that this was the age where she actually started to feel old.  She mentioned that all of this seemed to happen in the blink of an eye.  She said that in her mind, she still feels like she is 20 or 30 years old, but that her body doesn't feel or look the same.  She said it was such an odd feeling to no longer be seen as attractive and to get second glances while walking around in public.  She sounded so sad when she said this.  

Listening to her talk about getting older, and how awful it is, made me really think about my life right now and how this whole aging process works.  We spend much of our early youth wanting to be older so that we can do the things that we want to do, when we want to do them.  We want to be able to watch R rated movies.  We want to be able to date.  We want to be able to get our drivers licenses.  We want to go to college and leave the "nest".  We want to be able to drink (alcohol).  Then, as soon as we get to our mid-to late-20s, there is a shift in this "I want to get older" mentality and we start wishing that the time would slow down.  We start wishing that we wouldn't get any older.

Now that I am almost to my mid-30s, I stopped to take inventory on what I have compared to what I thought that I would have at this point in time.  Truth-be-told, I am right where I thought that I would be.  I am married, own a house, have pets, have a baby, have a good job, have good friends, go on fun family vacations, am in good shape and in good health, etc., etc., etc.  Things are good.  In fact, things are great.  Can I just freeze right now and stay here forever?  If only we could be so lucky as to have this opportunity, right?

So, when I am out for my next run, will I still get those second glances?  Will people still look at me as that "cute" girl-next-door?  At what point will this type of attention stop?  Why do I care so much about how I am perceived by others when it comes to attractiveness?  Am I prepared to deal with getting older?  If no random guys off the street find me attractive, will my husband still think I am attractive?  At some point will I stop caring?  Will I give up on staving off the aging process and just let myself go along for the rest of the ride?  So many questions that I just don't know the answer to...yet (or maybe ever?).

Happy Birthday to me.

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