Recently, my high school celebrated their class reunion in Ohio. I was unable to attend, but I have been seeing pictures posted on Facebook. It’s astonishing that I only recognize a couple of people! Everyone has gotten so much older and many don’t look like they did when we were in school. Then it dawned on me. If they’re looking older, then that means I’M looking older! Where has time gone!?! It seems like it was just yesterday that I was a majorette, marching in the band, and hanging with my friends. I noticed that just about all of us have gained a little weight, lost a little hair, and have a few more wrinkles on our faces.
Getting older isn’t for sissies, that’s for sure. Our minds tend to remain young, but for some reason, our bodies continue to age. We think we can still do all the things we did when we were younger, but our bodies tell us otherwise. But try we do! And then there’s the memory, or what there is of it. I now tend to forget things a little easier. In fact, I call them memoroids and I have more of them as time goes on.
I’ve pretty much come to peace with getting older. Peace with wrinkles, an extra flab here and there, fewer hairs, and not having the energy I had when I was younger. There are times when I dread getting any older, but I also want to be one of those who ages with grace. One who embraces the changes in my body and mind. But I also know that I don’t have to accept the labels that society tends to put on older people. I don’t have to expect age related illnesses just because someone says I should be getting them at a certain age. I don’t have to conform to others who say I should act my age. Personally, I don’t believe in age. If Einstein proved that there’s no such thing as time, then there’s no such thing as age. Besides, I refuse to be identified by a number whether it’s my age or my weight!
I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve developed a pretty healthy self-esteem by now…most of the time. I still have my moments of feeling insecure, inferior, and feeling unworthy, but usually I feel pretty good about myself. I like the person I’ve become; I just don’t always like the person I’m not. And sometimes I look in the mirror and think, “Who is that woman?!?” Some days I think I look pretty good for my age, and then other days I think I look like an ugly hag.
Healthy self-esteem sure is needed when hearing the honesty of young children. I’ve been told I’m old several times. One little one asked me how old I was and I teasingly said I was six. She replied, “You can’t be six! Six year olds don’t have squiggles on their face and you have squiggles! My grandma has squiggles!” So, now I have squiggles.
As I look back over my life since my days in school, I see how I have grown. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve had my share of challenges. Some I didn’t think I’d make it through, but for whatever reasons, I persevered and in hindsight, I see that those challenges made me a stronger and better person.
Certain segments of society tells us that we’re not good enough unless we look a certain way, act a certain way, or that we need to conform to what everyone else is doing. We were made to be unique! There is no one else like us in the world! I wish we could all learn early just how wonderful, magnificent, and miraculous we really are! We could live with our heads held high knowing that we are the best there is and it has nothing to do with anyone else! With age comes wisdom, knowledge, and a knowing that age really is a state of mind. The Bible also states that we were made in God’s image, which makes us glorious and splendid beings living a human experience!
Donna Lynn Hope said, “Youth. I don’t seek it through another because I have it within; it’s a state of mind, a spirit that is free, and a mind that is playful. The shell of my being is altered by the effects of time, but nothing will tarnish a soul that will never forget what it’s like to experience creation with endless wonder and appreciation.”
Embrace life! Embrace your age! Let’s all learn to age gracefully and be proud of our squiggles! We’ve earned them!
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper September 19, 2014.