Aging can be fun if you lay back and enjoy it. –Clint Eastwood
To be clear, I do not think I am old. I also do not think I am “getting” old. Age happens and everyone does it. This is why I struggle with some of the things people say to me when they hear I have grandkids or when they hear how old I am. Things like, “WOW!! You have grandkids, you do not look like you could.” “Hey, you are 50!!! No way!!” “You do not seem to act your age.” “Incredible, I would not have thought you were older than (give any age younger than what I am)” They say it like it’s a shame that I am so old. Or like I must be depressed about my end years. I mean.. seriously, these days my age (51 now) is barely middle age.
Yeah.. yeah… yeah… my joints sometimes hurt, I am sometimes shocked when I think about my oldest child being 27 and my youngest being 25, and sometimes I forget that I am not the exact same age as everyone I am standing around. However, I am not really old. Or at least I do not feel it. I’m sure I felt the same way about the older generation when I was part of the newer generation.
My dad put it best about 20 years ago when we were sitting in a local dive. He said to me, “Sami, you see that guy that just walked in here? How old do you think he is?” I looked over and nodded and said, “Well, he’s at least 21.” Dad said, “Yeah, yeah, but how old do you think he is?” I looked at him and the scraggly group he was with and said, “Well, he looks to be about 24-26 years old.” Dad said, “Exactly… and that’s how old I think I am in my head!!! Then I walk by a mirror and I am absolutely shocked. I can only think to myself, who is that old bastard staring back at me!!”
Well, I am now the age my father was then. Even though I got it at the time, I really get it now. I don’t give age a whole lot of thought usually. But every once in awhile it sort of just hits me. Lines around my face, grey hair coming in, the above mentioned joints giving out on me when I least expect it, and the amount of time I spend thinking BAAACCCCKKKKK on the follies of my youth.
About a year and a half ago, my younger sister was talking to me and indicated she was going to let her hair go natural and that I might want to join her. I had been dying my hair since I was about 18.. just for the heck of it. I no longer had any idea of what the actual color of my hair was but knew that over the past few years, I was starting to see some grey roots. I thought to myself, why not. I was actually tired of dying my hair. Further, living overseas it is often hard to find a quality product to use and it can get very expensive to go into a salon and pay someone every few weeks to dye your hair.
I’ve never been a patient person so I did the most natural thing for someone like myself and just bleached my hair white. I really, really, really thought that it would grow out completely grey. That is exactly what did not happen. So for an entire year I looked..uh.. fresh.. recognizable.. kind of cool… and it WAS pretty cool for about 2 months.
Apparently I was not as old/grey as I thought I was and that unless I did something drastic, I would be bleaching my hair every 2-3 weeks for the rest of my life. My hair was really being destroyed and the chemicals were actually doing more damage than any normal dye. UGH.. what to do? Well, not wanting to deal with the grow out and realizing that my hair was completely destroyed at this point anyways, I did the most natural thing for someone like myself… I had a friend shave me bald to reset this entire mad process and for the first time in over 30 years, I saw the true and natural color of my hair.
I’m not going to lie. For the first 20 minutes it was shocking to see myself in the mirror. After that, it was liberating. I LOVED it. Not always how I looked but how I felt. I had several women say to me, “Wow. You look amazing!!” “At least you have a nicely shaped head.” “I could never do that, I sort of hide behind my hair.” “You will have to start wearing some bold makeup now.. or at least makeup, otherwise you will look like a boy.” Yeah, sometimes women can be harder on women then men.. but I understood the sentiment.
Well, it grew on me. The look and yes, even my hair. It was a complete reset with my mentality, my awareness of self, and how much I had used my hair as an impetus for how I felt about myself. Though I didn’t feel old, I guess I was sort of trying to hold back the years from the top down to the bottom. The reset really worked. I had not planned on a reset. Didn’t even know I was doing it when I was doing it. But I did it and I felt it.
Now, nearly a year later, my hair has actually grown back. I was slightly concerned at times. As liberating as it was, it was also a bit intimidating. At this time, I mostly do not feel any different than I did before the bleach and the cut. I sometimes miss having no hair. I have not dyed my hair again and LOVE the look and feel and, to be quite honest, the cost and time saving experience of just being au natural.
I still do not feel like I am that old, despite my half century on the planet, but I accept that I am closer to a century than to zero. I also feel the words my dad said to me nearly 20 years ago in a more profound kind of way. Who is that ol’ lady staring back at me … and how in the hell did she become so… amazing… !!!
OK.. OK… sometimes I do end that thought with the word “old”.
I hope you enjoyed the read and the memories…
“It`s not how old you are, it`s how you are old.” ― Jules Renard
“Your face is marked with lines of life, put there by love and laughter, suffering and tears. It’s beautiful.” ― Lynsay Sands
Peace out – age gracefully – live long and prosper! – lil ‘ol me and Spock
Other places to view aging gracefully
The first silver strands, As birthdays go, Beauty of aging, accepting, seniors in the garden, never too old, change, transilience, change the conversation, Let your wrinkles be your roadmap, fifty and vanity, self loathing to self love, Connected, graceful aging, change, blessings, come dance with me, reinventing ourselves