I'm getting nervous about the makeover I committed to doing... I contemplated backing out, but I'm going through with it, regardless of the comments I may get. You may be wondering, why is she so nervous about a makeover-isn't that something women look forward to? But this isn't just any makeover. It's sort of a makeover in reverse. The decision to go grey is my second coming out of the closet. Because instead of looking younger, I'm stripping out the hair dye and donning glasses so I can purposefully look... older. My 52nd birthday is fast approaching and to celebrate, I'm going from black hair and no glasses, to silver with glasses. I'm also attempting to lose some serious weight-this is going to be a major overhaul. I'm documenting the process with pics, and an article about my feelings as I attempt to embrace my aging self, and avoid hitching my star to the hopelessness that can accompany a seismic shift like this. I'm a counselor, so I have every right to diagnose myself with a mid-life crisis... except I'm not in mid-life anymore. However, this definitely qualifies as a crisis.
The point of it all is to celebrate my encroaching maturity: to observe and honor it rather than lament it. Given what I've gone through, arriving at age 52 in one piece is proof that I kept going. Beyond that, willingly giving up the appearance of youth is a sign that my soul kept growing... maybe that's what I'm documenting. I'm not pausing my life to note that I survived the suicide of my daughter-it's more than that. I'm pausing to see that in the process of surviving, my hair shed it's color, my eyesight went from bad to worse, and the crinkles and creases decided all of their own accord to make a statement about me. My body is saying: there is beauty in the cracks. But can I say the same thing?
When I look in the mirror what I see first is the damage. There are age spots on my hands, and more hair than any woman should have to endure on her lip. My eyelids are drooping (that's the latest find), and the "fine lines" have revolted, cementing themselves into deep crevasses where I smile and frown. I won't even tell you what my neck skin is doing all of it's own accord (it has something to do with a turkey). I wish I could see beyond these alarming changes, because I don't like to feel this way about myself. The 40's forced upon me the harsh reality that my youth was over, and I've been fighting it for the past decade. At 52 I'm giving up the fight. I'll surrender the hair dye, and put my glasses on. I'll lose the 50 pounds my doctor says I need to lose so I can live an extra 10 years because suddenly I realize... I'm ganna need it.
I don't like the idea of getting old; I don't think that I'm alone. When I told my Facebook friends I was going to look my age most of them politely supported me, offering an enthusiastic "thumbs up," but I wondered how they really felt inside about aging. Will they think I'm as pretty when the first thing they see is grey and the glint of designer glasses? Will they really think I'm still cool? I admire women who have managed to age gracefully rather than look like a worn-out tire, because it's a lot of work to keep it all together-you know, the look. There's fashion to consider if you want to maintain some personal panache. If I can't be young, at least I can be stylish. I wonder how important even style will be in my final years? As the river flows, will it wash away my last bit of concern over what people think, and will I abandon myself to purple hair? Gosh I hope not... but you never know.
What concerns me the most about aging is that I'll start slipping in my ability to relate to popular culture and find myself in a perpetual time-warp of 1982. It's already happening. I find myself scoffing at the hipsters and their trendy beards. I pull up next to a driver who looks like a child behind the wheel and I panic. Who gave this kid the keys to the family car?! The clincher is going to the doctor and realizing the sweet young lady you've been politely chatting with while waiting for the doctor is in fact your doctor, and trying not to appear startled because she holds your tenuous life in her unwrinkled little hands. I'm re-thinking 1982... it wasn't such a bad year.
I'm calling this a "reverse makeover" because most women come out looking younger than before; I'm doing the opposite. But when you think about it, is moving forward really going in reverse? Isn't moving forward the natural direction we're supposed to move? Then why do most of the middle-aged women I know still have themselves shoved into reverse? I started asking myself these searching questions when my grey hair couldn't be quelled any longer. It's come to this, I said gravely to myself... this is it, the jumping off point. There's no more denying or masking it. The grey has won the turf war, your eyesight is about as good as a moles, and if your neck and arms flap any more someone's going to mistake you for the American flag. I decided right then to let myself off the hook. Why beat myself up for the inevitable? I wanted to shout: I am a 50-something woman, and if you want to salute me when my arms flap, go right ahead-because I've earned a little respect, dammit.
If you don't like the Youth to Wisdom Makeover results I won't be offended-just don't tell me. I'm still working on loving me... all of me, even the chips and cracks. This embracing your wisdom stuff is tougher than it looks.