At age fifty-seven, I have finally figured out that I am no longer young. I have accepted the sags and wrinkles; I own (and use) at least six pairs of reading glasses, and I am no longer surprised when I wake up in the morning and there’s always something, somewhere on my body, that hurts. I am fully aware that tucking in my shirts is no longer a good look for me, and the only thing I’m looking for when I buy a new swimming suit is maximum coverage and strong elastic. On the upside, I’ve got a much stronger sense of self than I ever had before, and I care less about what others think of me with each passing day. In short, I have embraced the fact that I have moved from “young” into “middle aged” and have actually learned to appreciate this phase of my life. I’m just not ready to be “old.”
Which is why I get alarmed when I find myself sometimes thinking, talking and acting like an old person. I hate it when I walk into a store at the mall and my first thought is, “Can someone please turn that darn music down?” I hate it when I’m on vacation, deciding where to go for dinner, and I find myself checking out the “Early Bird Specials” because the prices are so much better if I can talk my husband into eating dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon. And I especially hate it when a young clerk at the checkout counter takes one look at me and automatically gives me the Senior Citizen Discount.
I feel so very old when I’m reading posts on Facebook that contain random abbreviations that everyone but me seems to understand. I had to google “smh” to figure out that it means “shaking my head.” And then, of course, I wondered why in the world would so many people feel the need to tell others they are shaking their heads? And if it really is so very necessary, why don’t they just come out and say so in plain English, rather than use those annoying little asterisks and obscure initials? (And if that last sentence doesn’t make me sound old, I don’t know what does.)
It’s a bit jarring to realize that I have lived long enough to see the clothing styles from my youth making a comeback. Yesterday, I saw a newscaster wearing a dress that would have been completely in style when I was in high school…back in the mid 1970s. And terms from my youth, like “hipster” and “kiddos” are back with a vengeance. Isn’t that only supposed to happen to old people?
Still, I am only fifty-seven, which means I’m not actually an old person yet. I just need to accept that from now on, there are always going to random incidents or moments that make me feel older than I want to be. Things such as getting invited to my 40th high school reunion, seeing toys from my childhood in an antique mall, or worse, looking at myself in the bathroom mirror first thing in the morning before I have washed my face or run a comb through my hair. I’ve got to remember to stop doing that…