When I was in my 20s, I wondered how I would feel when I was in my 60s. I worried about how I would go to clubs to dance (at that time in my life, I did a lot of clubbing) as an “old lady.” I wondered if I could still wear current fashions then, and oh–what would happen if I began to look, well, OLD? What you don’t realize when you’re young is that your tastes change. You grow, you change, you acquire new interests and passions; in short, you start to become your own unique person. Instead of being a tender reed in any wind, blowing this way and that, you start to put down some serious roots. You begin to realize some core truths about yourself; one of them being that the interests you had in your 20s don’t all make it through the decades.
I used to dress to impress men; super high heels, lots of makeup, the latest hairstyle, trendy fashions, and so on. I even tried growing out my very thick and coarse hair. (Every woman in my family has thick hair, which, now that I am older, is much more blessing than curse.) Over many uncomfortable months, I grew my hair to shoulder length. I kept it that way for exactly 48 hours. Why? It took hours to dry, I had to use a blow-dryer AND a curling iron (two things I really don’t care for), plus it was very heavy and very hot (not in the good way).
I had dreamed of the day when I could wear it in a French twist (which actually looked pretty good) or best of all, a ponytail. When I tried gathering up my hair into a ponytail, the sheer thickness of it was roughly the width of a standard Mason jar…I’m NOT kidding. It looked ridiculous and felt worse. So off to my stylist I went and had it cut into my usual, oh-so-easy to style short wash n’ wear hairdo. I’ve never gone back to long hair, but thanks to the ever-evolving hair product industry, I now use molding wax and/or hair paste to give me that fun and funky look that suits me so well.
I have long since developed my own style, too. When I stopped dressing for men, dressing for success (ugh, what an awful phrase), dressing to impress; I discovered my own look. I found that my favorite type of clothing is pajama-y outfits; flowy pants, swing-y jackets, bright jewel tones, lots of jewelry (I don’t think I’ve ever left the house wearing less than 12 pieces of jewelry), comfy but stylish shoes, and these days; really good bras. The following are things I’ve long left by the wayside:
- Panty hose
- Shiny eyeshadow
- High heels
- Sparkly lipstick
- Mascara on my lower lashes
- Shoulder pads
- Body (or face) glitter
- Dresses and skirts (although now there are some very cute and comfy ones I intend to try)
- Theme t-shirts (in fact, ANY t-shirt)
- Tacky jewelry
Although I love buying jewelry, I keep it fairly inexpensive. I can fall in love with a piece, see the price–and fall instantly out of love if it’s more than I want to pay. When true serendipity brings a great piece together with a great price, I’m in love. I make a lot of my own jewelry, too (see my Etsy shop at http://www.janesjools4u.etsy.com).
One of the very best things about getting older is that you no longer feel obligated to waste your precious time (and let’s face it–the older we get, the less time we have ahead of us) on ridiculous fashions, unsuitable partners, sucky restaurants, boring books, bad TV, toxic friendships, or horrible jobs. In fact, one of my favorite work moments came when I worked for a firm with, shall we say, a pretty unstable manager. I was hired to do a certain job, which I did well. About six months into the job, he decided to change my job description to something I have NEVER done, and would never have signed up to do. When I tried reasoning with him, saying that I wasn’t hired for that position and in fact knew nothing about it, he screamed that he was the boss and I was going to f***ing well do what I was told or leave.
Well, it took me exactly 10 seconds to say, “I’ll take Door #2: I quit.” It was the first and last time I’ve ever done something like that, and the memory still makes me smile.
The great truth about growing older is that you learn so much along the way. There are “aha!” moments, “oh, crap!” moments, “duhh” moments, “what was I thinking?” moments, and many, many more. You realize that what was true for you in your 20s just no longer holds water. I used to have to be right about everything, and I do mean everything. I would get so irritated at people who didn’t do what I felt they should do. My thinking was ‘Why can’t they see how right I am?!’ That’s a memory that my mom would say makes you go ‘red in the night’ with embarrassment. When I finally realized how ridiculous I was, I felt like hiring a sky-writer to paint these words across the sky: “JANE IS A MASSIVE IDIOT AND NEVER LISTEN TO A THING SHE SAYS.”
So we live, we learn, and with hope we get better as we go forward. As someone once said, “Life is a banquet, so always bring a fork.” As for me, I’m still making mistakes, but these days I don’t make the same ones twice. I am more humble than righteous, more adaptable than stubborn, more soft than hard, and more willing to laugh at myself than hold myself up as the Supreme Smartass of the Universe.
And I always carry a fork.