I’ve been pondering something I heard on TV a few days ago.
The lead character in a show I’ve been watching is a successful, middle-aged, tired, single mother whose three girls are in the trenches of high school, middle school, and grade school. Although I have only one daughter, she is currently a junior in high school, so I relate to this character and her family well.
The statement that has stuck with me occurred while the character was reflecting on events that had transpired while mingling at a party.
An attractive middle-aged man had approached and struck up an intellectual conversation with the character that quickly diverted to flirting – cut short when a much younger woman with glaring sex appeal approached the man and they embraced for a rather long, awkward kiss. He introduced the woman as his girlfriend and smiled as she whisked him away muttering a simple “it was so nice to meet you.”
The character indulged in a few more beverages and cigarettes and then connected with a friend for a night cap.
“Do you know why I used to be afraid of getting old?” she asked the friend.
“Because it meant I was going to die.
But you know what? Tonight I was blocked by my ‘daughter’.
I don’t care about dying. Getting old sucks because … young people.”
I stopped dead in my tracks. What did she just say?
I can’t even recall what happened during the rest of the episode because I couldn’t stop thinking about what she had said.
You see, there was a time when I was her ‘daughter’. And it wasn’t all that long ago.
I was fully aware of the power that youthfulness, energy, beauty, ambition, innocence, and the impression of flawlessness created. And I knew that these traits were undeniably magnetic.
Paired with an outgoing personality, brains, a cute smile, some curves, a short skirt, and a pair of well structured heels – a girl can run the world.
Fast forward a few years and you’ll see that the past 24-36 months have not been so kind to me.
At 34, my hair is all turning gray, liver spots and melasma have tarnished my complexion, my teeth have squished together in a crooked, discolored mess, I have little energy or spunk, and my once firm, athletic body is now mush and shameful rolls of fat.
I also have baggage – physical, mental, and emotional. And I am frumpy.
I hate that word.
I associate the term with homely people, elderly school teachers and librarians that are well past retirement, and … my mother.
She was humble, loving, and spent most of her life going without to ensure that everyone else was taken care of. But, she never did a thing to care for herself.
If I have failed at anything in the past several years, it’s the basics – I let adversity get the best of me.
I’m a fighter. A strong, confident, witty, resourceful, independent girl who never takes ‘no’ for an answer and doesn’t let anyone push me around.
So what happened to me?!
It’s taken months of self-reflection, soul-searching, friend-therapy, mentor sessions, self-help books, TEDx Talks and anything else I can wrap my head around to begin to understand how I got from ‘there’ to ‘here’.
‘Here’ is a much better place than it was even a few weeks ago. Still, I have a long road ahead.
I haven’t decided if the process I’m going through is unraveling all the things that aren’t me and/or I don’t want in my life – or if it’s rebuilding myself, from the ground up.
Either way, it’s a daily, conscious effort; a commitment to becoming a better ‘me’ so that I can be better for those around me.
I have to learn to accept that I am not ‘young’ anymore and that there is nothing wrong my current stage of life.
I have my mind, my health, and the ability to get back in shape – I don’t have to be frumpy.
And, this fear of getting old because … young people?
Well, I’m not going to lie. Young, rowdy groups of people at the bar will probably always annoy me; they’ve never been my ‘thing’. It’s also probably a sign I’m somewhere that is no longer my ‘scene’.
But, they’re nothing to be fearful of. And neither is getting old.
It’s time to take back my life. To be bold and brave, again.
I will forge ahead knowing that I can – and will find happiness, because enjoying life is within my control.
No matter what curve balls come my way, I get to decide how they will affect me and how I will respond.
So, carry on young ‘uns … this middle-aged, single-mother is ready to LIVE.