Remember what the first day of school was like when you were a kid? I don’t know about you, but I expected that I would come home from my first day knowing how to read and write perfectly. Needless to say, I was pretty bummed out when that didn’t happen.
That experience taught me that reality doesn’t always meet expectations. At each stage of my life, I found that to be true, and gradually learned to accept things as they are, not as I wished them to be.
Same with getting older. One of the major milestones for me was turning 60, which, if you live in China, means a huge celebration of your new elder status, bringing you oodles of respect and gifts. In America, not so much. However, in the four years since I hit that major milestone, I learned some truisms about being over 60. I’ve spoken before about the many benefits of being over 60, such as senior discounts and the joy of having grandchildren; there are many, many more.
But there are many other less delightful things you can expect when you’re 60 or older, especially if you’re female. If you’re female, there are a host of things that will happen when you’re 60 or older. In no particular order, they are these:
- No matter your hair type, your hair takes on a life of its own after 60. Mine, for example, has developed zillions of frinky little curly hairs around my hairline. (I swear my hair was as straight as a stick until until then.)
- You no longer need to shave your legs or armpits; the hair just refuses to grow anymore. No loss in my opinion.
- Sadly, farts are inevitable. They happen when you bend over, walk up or down the stairs, move suddenly, or when you’re sitting in a crowd.
- You notice that your formerly young-looking hands have developed brown spots, raised veins and knobby knuckles. (I say let’s bring back those nice lace mitts that just leave your thumbs and fingers showing!)
- Toenails morph from pretty pearly shells to yellow-y little horns, and you are forced to buy those huge clippers that can also be used to trim horses’ hooves.
- Your cleavage becomes the Valley of the Wrinkled Dolls.
- Your nipples now look down disconsolately at your feet. They no longer have anything to look up for.
- The skin on your heels, no matter how many gallons of lotion you put on them, turns into sandpaper rough enough to sand oak.
- If you care to look at your bare butt in the mirror, you will notice that you now have pleats under your butt cheeks. (Do yourself a favor–don’t look.)
- You avoid direct sunlight like a vampire, and protect any uncovered skin with number 3,000 SPF lotion.
- Even if you stop drinking liquids at noon, you still find you have to get up to pee in the middle of the night.
- Speaking of pee, you often find that laughing, coughing or sneezing can bring on what I call “happy piddles.”
- You find that you can no longer wear eye-shadow; eyelids wrinkle right alongside everything else.
Look, I don’t want to view all these things as terrible, they are just hallmarks of getting older. I find that my sense of humor has gotten a real workout through all these changes, plus I take myself so much less seriously. Honestly, it really is all about your mind, your outlook, your values, your love of family and friends, and all those things that you love doing. The physical part of getting older is only the outer shell; it really is what’s inside that counts.
And speaking of that, here is a truth you can take to the bank: do not mourn your youthful self. Celebrate this new, older, smarter, savvy, amazing and unique YOU—warts, wrinkles and all. The fleeting beauty of youth inevitably morphs into a different beauty, and the greatest prize in that particular Crackerjacks box is that you get smarter and take less crap.
Appreciate the past, embrace the now, and keep looking forward. That’s the thing that will keep us happy, healthy, appreciative and positive.
I’m not kidding.