I have always been the sort of person who thinks that people should age gracefully. Everyone can, at the very least, think of celebrities who've failed to do so in the most obvious and, often, horrific (not to mention public) ways possible. Plastic surgery does not make you look better, you just end up looking like a science experiment gone wrong.
On the other hand, there are celebrities who've aged gracefully. Think of Betty White. She has a beautiful smile unmarred by Botox and "lip enhancements" and such ridiculousness. I hope I look that good when I'm her age.
Here's my dirty little secret, though: just because I want to age gracefully doesn't mean that I want to do it right now, or anytime in the near future. Since turning 29 earlier this year, my imminent 30th birthday has loomed before me. Holy crap, I'm almost 30! How could that have happened? I don't feel that old! I haven't done all the things I wanted to do before I turned 30! It's looming so large that I hardly ever think "I'm 29." It's always, "I'm almost 30." I should be enjoying my last year of my 20s, but I can't. It's just too overshadowed by the prospect of turning 30. From there it's just a hop, skip, and a jump to 50 and suddenly I'm wondering where my life has gone so fast?
I'm not nearly the first person to feel this way, and I won't be the last. 30 often represents the leaving-behind of youth. I will no longer be a "young person". Any wild oats I want to sow, any rashness or foolishness should be done with by the time a person turns 30, right? Otherwise you just end up being kind of sad. Like a Peter Pan who ages everywhere except in the mind. Clearly, an obsession with youth is unhealthy.
One of my friends, when we were discussing this briefly said, "Whatever. You can turn whatever age you want to be. Next year? Next year we'll celebrate your 27th birthday again." That just feels like cheating to me. And again, a little sad. I'm not going to lie about my age. Just because I don't want to be my age doesn't mean I won't own up to it.
One thing about getting older that's totally come true is the fact that my young appearance is now working for me. When I was younger, I hated it. I've always looked a few years younger than I am, and my shortness never helped. When I was 18, people still thought I was 14. Exactly what every new "grownup" kid wants, right? When I complained, adults smiled and said, "Oh, just wait until you're my age. You'll love it then."
And I do. I tease Shane about the few gray hairs he has in his sideburns (he claims I gave them to him) knowing full well that there isn't a single gray hair on me. (No, I don't dye my hair, nor do I obsessively check. But I do handle my hair, of course, and Shane wouldn't hesitate to turn the tables and make fun of a gray hair if he found one.) So when I started noticing some fine lines around my eyes over the winter (likely from squinting at the computer screen, against the low winter sunlight, and against snow glare) I sort of freaked out a little bit. Internally. No one, not even Shane, was privy to my little pout over this fact of life. But it was there. I'd look in the mirror in the mornings and sigh.
Unexpected salvation came when I ran out of my locally produced and farmer's market purchased face lotion. I wasn't very keen on the lotion anyway, so I was happy to be done with it. It had almond extract in it, and when my skin was particularly rough it stung. On the drive home after New Year's, Shane used it on his nose where he had a cut and the skin was all rough and dry. We called it "wake up lotion" because it stung him so bad. No need to fear falling asleep at the wheel, just smear on some wake up lotion!
I didn't want to spend $17 on a tiny container of organic face lotion, and even less did I want to spend $10 on toxic chemical lotions. (Yes, even anti-aging lotions. As much as I hate the signs of aging in myself, another part of aging gracefully is trying to accept that some things are inevitable.) Looking around, I found a rather large tub of organic cocoa butter for about $8. So I bought it, not really knowing what I was getting. From the word "butter", you can imagine what I was picturing. And that's not it at all. Cocoa butter is a solid, and the directions on the (plastic) tub said to microwave it every time I wanted to spread it on my face. What a pain in the butt! But trying it out, I was really enjoying it. It does a great job of moisturizing my face without making it oily, and it smells like chocolate. So when the smell lingers, and I put on my minty Burt's Bees lip balm, I end up smelling like mint chocolate. Not a bad way to fall asleep. :)
But the microwaving, and in plastic no less, wasn't fun. So after looking around online about what to mix with it I bought some jojba oil and did a double-boiler style thing to mix the two. I must say, not a wild success. I think I put in too much of the oil and not enough of the butter, so I'll try mixing it again at some point. I also saw online that adding aloe gel can help, so if adding more cocoa butter doesn't help I'll probably try that. For now, I'm using it as-is, even though the oil has separated from the cocoa butter solids and it's formed little beads.
The reason I'm talking about my near-failure is because you know what? The stuff totally works. Those fine lines around my eyes? They make an appearance every now and again but for the most part they've been plumped up by wonderfully moisturized skin. It's a lovely thing. Instead of looking tired, sagging, and lined, my eyes are looking brighter. My eyelashes are even looking a bit longer. I didn't mention my disappointment about the appearance of lines to Shane, but I did exuberantly shout that "they're gone!" and he said, "Girls are so vain." In this case, yes I am. And I'm not afraid to admit it.
Aging is inevitable. I know the day is rapidly approaching when those lines will show up and stick around. One day, I'll realize that they're mostly from smiling and laughing, and that will make me happy because I'll know that I've lived my life joyfully. I'll flip through my memories of all of the good times that caused those lines and add a few more as I smile all over again. But for now, I'm just going to be happy that this has worked. I'm going to try to enjoy the moment, and the last vestiges of my youth, while I can rather than anxiously dreading the aging process.