Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number

For some people, aging is a beautiful thing. Each year carries with it more knowledge, more experience. Each line in your face is a memento of countless smiles, skeptical eye raises, and teary meltdowns.

For this gal, however, the thought of growing older is instead a reminder of all the things I haven’t done. Of the fact that I will forever be beyond my most youthful years. Every time I’m innocently called “ma’am” by a server or walking down the street by a passing group of teenagers, I feel age seeping out of my pores like sweat in a sauna.

I turn 31 in a week and when I don’t let myself think about it too much, I feel great. 31 still feels young, but makes me feel a bit more settled in who I am and how I interact with the world. It feels like a good time to really solidify my career, my creative pursuits, and my skincare game. I’ve scheduled a haircut, a Sephora makeover, a Karaoke night, a massage, and a dinner all within the next week. I’m collaborating on a web series with my friend and planning on revisiting the whole blogging rigamarole. I have an actual ~career~ and am making more money than I ever have before. And yet, somehow, when I think about it for too long, I feel like a failure of a thirty-something.

What is it that makes me obsess in this harmful way? Is it what society thinks or what I genuinely feel about myself? I look in the mirror and see the beginnings of wrinkles, a sprinkling of gray hairs (which I’ve had since I was 18—cool genes, right?), and the reflection of someone who isn’t happy where she is in life.

It’s interesting to me, though, because I don’t prescribe to those things. I don’t think a woman’s only value is her youth or that her only true accomplishment is finding a partner. Seeing other women rock silver hair at a young age is badass. Knowing single women who lead very fulfilling lives makes sense to me. But, for whatever reason, when it’s me who’s concerned, I’m a judgy sonofabitch. I know, I’m my own worst critic, whatever. Even so, how do I apply my POV of the world to my own perception of myself? ’Cause 31 is a bit too old to be so narrowminded.

I know it’s kind of stupid, but watching shows like “Sex and the City” or movies like “Bridget Jones” remind me that I don’t need to magically transform into a perfectly together, no-nonsense grownup in my thirties. It even gives me the tiniest sliver of hope that, should I decide to return to acting, there might still be fun roles for me to play.

Sitting on the train on the way home from work tonight, I imagined looking in the mirror in my seventies or eighties and feeling completely in despair because I’d never again get to be young. I would instead like to manifest a future in which I’m appreciative of all the decades I’ve had. Where I’ve come to terms with what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished, and who I’ve been. And I don’t think the path to getting there is drugstore hair dye or botox. I just wish I knew what it was.