I’m sure that all of us at one time or another have looked at our high school picture and thought, ‘I was a good-looking kid back then–why did I think I wasn’t?’ Well, that’s age and perspective for you. School, especially high school–where some of us wanted so badly to be cool and popular, pimple-free, good looking and confident–was a trial by fire and scorn.
Upon hearing the oft-repeated phrase, “oh, just be YOU. You’re fine the way you are!” didn’t help one bit. Back then it was so easy to pick out flaws and definitely ‘uncool’ things about ourselves. I realize that back then I was looking at each individual tree and not the whole forest. It was all too easy to try to compare myself to other girls, and in my mind, I always came out the loser.
Now that I am creeping perilously close to 65, I see things differently. I look at the wonderful pictures my dad took of me when I was in my teens–in them, my eyes are pleading ‘please like me. Please think I’m pretty.’ Back then I hadn’t yet figured myself out or realized that the gifts I’d been given had little to do with looks.
I used to work with a guy a few years younger than me who always kept a picture of his 17-year old self on his desk. When I commented on it, he said sorrowfully, ‘just look at all that glorious hair I had then! Look at how thin I was!’ His “present self” was older, of course, and had very little of all that hair. Each and every day he looked at that picture and compared himself to that younger, hairier self. I used to tell him, ‘that’s your past; that’s not who you are today. That was then, this (pointing to him) is NOW.”
Clearly he wasn’t pleased with the NOW. I never forgot that–the wistfulness in his eyes while looking back at his young self. Just about everyone looks good when they are young; that’s pretty much how it goes. But living in the past is like willing the tide to turn, or pulling the moon down to the earth. Things just don’t work that way.
It’s perfectly fine to look as good as you want to at any age. It’s ok to want to be young again, but since that can’t happen, why not embrace the person that we are now, right this minute? We don’t have to be perfect, we don’t have to look young. We just need to be who we are, and so what if we are no longer the hairy drummer in our old band, or the perfect prom queen we once were?
That was then, THIS–right here, right now–is NOW. Let’s not waste another precious moment mourning our past selves, but move forward to enjoy all the things that our PRESENT selves are and can be. It’s the ‘looking ahead’ that keeps our souls young and our eyes bright. In fact, here is list of some of the things that, being older, I no longer have to do (and am tickled to pieces about it):
- No more going to work
- No more wearing uncomfortable (but good-looking) shoes
- No more running around the house with my hair on fire trying to do everything at once
- No more taking all that time to look ‘perfect’ each day
- No more worrying about what others think
And here are some of the many great things I DO enjoy and can do each day:
- Cook whenever I feel like it
- Apply minimal makeup with no ‘trendy stuff’ (NOTE: leave the glitter to the teens)
- Walk outside in flowered capris, a t-shirt and a floppy hat to garden
- Wear all the jewelry I want, even if I’m just going to the post office
- Sit on the porch, drinking coffee and enjoying the parade of the world going by
Life is GOOD, but it’s especially good when we are old enough to REALLY appreciate it.