So summer is here and I thought I’d have countless hours to write and relax, but I’ve been running like a chicken with my head cut off. Between baseball, finishing up work, and a major writing project that I had to finish, everything got put on hold. I’m feeling thrilled to finally sit down and breathe.
But, I’ve been a bit of a mess. I’m having some real struggles lately with this bullshit we call aging and I’ve been pondering. What would I say to my twenty something self? What would I want to say about the journey of coming into my own as an “older” version of me if I had the chance.
I cannot begin to count the amount of times that I questioned my younger self. I cannot begin to count the amount of times I looked into the mirror and thought I was the worst version of me. I wasn’t pretty enough, I wasn’t thin enough, I wasn’t smart enough. I wasn’t someone that the boys liked. My hair was dull. My eyes weren’t blue enough. I was average. Why is it that we put so much pressure on ourselves as young girls and women? Why is it that one look from another person, particularly another girl, can completely break us? I realize that all of these insecurities are part of the deal. I realize that this is not unique to me. We all have struggles, both males and females. We all have to go through rights of passage. But what would I say to myself now if I could go back and talk to me?
I think that I would tell that young lady that she is incredible. I would tell her that she actually is quite thin and her skin is clear and wrinkle free. I would tell her that the only people that matter are her closest friends and family. I would let her know that all of the insecurities will lesson, at least a little. I would tell her that she has talents. I would tell her that the only opinion that matters is what those that love her feel about her. She is a good person, she is a good friend, and she takes great care of the people that she loves. I would also tell her to truly appreciate the young, amazing woman that she is because for a while she may have a hard time finding herself again.
I would tell her that someday she will look much different than she does today, but it will be OK. I would tell her that she will look this way because besides being a daughter, a sister, and a friend, she is a wife, and more importantly, a mother. She’s running a million places a day. She doesn’t have time to get to the gym as much as she’d like and when she does she’ll have aches and pains that show she is not as young as she once was. She doesn’t have time to cook the perfect healthy meal every day, even though she tries. She doesn’t have time to take care of her herself in the way that she should. Her hair has gray, in fact there’s hair in places that it’s not supposed to be. She is sleep deprived. She has battle scars in the form of stretch marks because she carried three babies. She doesn’t have the beautiful full breasts she once was proud of because she nursed those babies. She doesn’t feel like herself and when she looks in the mirror the person staring back at her she won’t recognize. She’ll gain weight, she’ll lose weight, and it will drive her crazy. And once she gets past forty the weight will be virtually impossible to take off no matter how much she works out and how little she eats. She’ll have night sweats and hormone shifts, and she’ll cry at the most random moments and not understand why. Her thoughts will be consumed with the people that she loves, instead of herself. She will rarely have time to read a great book, or sit down and relax, because her wants and needs will not be her own. But if she’s lucky enough she is going to find a man or partner who accepts all of those parts of her. He will love her and tell her that she’s beautiful and perfect even when she’s at her worst. She will realize that her body may not be what it once was, but she will wear those battle scars like a badge of honor. She really and truly is ALL the things to those around her.
My grandmother used to tell me how beautiful I was, in fact the last time that I got to see her before she died she looked at me and said, ” Oh Debbie, you are so beautiful!” I’ve never told anyone what she said, but I’m sharing it because it struck me in a way that I cannot describe. It was like a bolt of lightening. I cried for a long time after that because I couldn’t believe that that was how she still saw me. I was a grown woman and a mom of three. I was stubborn and opinionated to a fault, but she saw beauty. I cry thinking about that moment now. She saw me for who I was deep down to my soul and she accepted every single flaw that I had and more. She made me focus on what true beauty is and that it comes from the inside out.
So younger me, try to not sweat the little things too much. You are a perfect version of the person you are supposed to be. You have a lot of growing up to do, but it’s all going to work out. Take what others think of you or say about you with a grain of salt, because after all, those that love you and know you, are the only ones that matter. Someday you will find yourself again and have time to read that book, and sit in the quiet. You may just look around and realize that you really do have it all, even with hormones, gray hair, and a few extra pounds. But it’s cool, because all of the parts of yourself you gave up were worth it. Cheers to all of the younger, less hormonal versions of ourselves that we mourn, but take a hard look at who you have become. The best moment is when you look in that mirror again and say, “wow, I really do look great today, and I’ve still got it flaws and all!” I wouldn’t want to go back to her any day of the week and I don’t imagine that you would want to either, well maybe just to that young body and a few less wrinkles just once! (insert wink!) Remember forty is the new twenty. You are so much smarter than you were then. You have more money, have discovered who your true friends are, and have your priorities in order. Growing old gracefully is what life is all about. After all, we’re going to get old no matter how many creams, lotions, and potions we try to slow down the process, so we might as well embrace it. Dear younger me, I’m going to rock this old lady thing so you better get ready!
Peace out and that’s my dish!