“To see that your life is a story while you’re in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, Gifts
My youth is marching in the opposite direction. I can do nothing but sit here and watch. Like one sits on a train with their face pressed against the window waving goodbye to a loved one. So long youth…
I know people older than me will read this and say, “You haven’t seen anything yet, sister.” I know this to be true, as well. I’m old enough and wise enough (now) to listen to those who have ‘been there and done that’.
As I get further from my youthful self, I’m struck with how I wish I was kinder to her when we were together. I wish I appreciated the young me more, but I was very hard on her. I criticized her every flaw and compared her to everyone else and found her wanting. I made her afraid to take chances and try new things. I constantly told her she couldn’t accomplish every dream she had, because she’d fail and look foolish. I’m ashamed at how I treated her. How odd to think I was my own bully.
It’s only with older eyes can I look back and see her beauty. There was nothing wrong with her curves. They can be just as lovely as the long, lean bodies I coveted, but could never acquire. Beauty isn’t one thing, it’s so many things. Most of the truly beautiful things about humans, has nothing to do with our faces or bodies. But, such is life, we don’t realize that until we get older. I guess when you start losing something, it’s easier to tell yourself it didn’t matter anyway.
I wish I could gather up every beautiful young girl who laments her body and face and wishes she were like someone else. The young girl who cries herself to sleep, as only a young girl can. I wish they could hear me when I say, “You ARE beautiful, just the way you are. Love yourself now, find a way NOW and you’ll thank yourself later.” But, we’re not geared to hear or accept that when we’re young. I’m sure when I was young some wise older woman told me I was beautiful. I’m sure I rolled my eyes.
What’s that saying, “Youth is wasted on the young.” The other one is, “With age comes wisdom.” Unfortunately, life can truly be a bitch and we don’t get both. C’est la vie.
There are benefits to getting older once you stop coveting youth. Really there are! Hard truth….it ain’t coming back. You can prolong the inevitable only so long. I’m not saying just give up. No, eat right, exercise – get healthy and strong! But, do it because you want to be the best you that you can be. Not because you are in competition with your younger self or someone else. That will always be a losing battle – always.
We must make peace with ourselves and reality. That’s where I am now. I’m learning to accept me – flaws and all. I’m so much braver now than I used to be. Mainly because I don’t care what anyone thinks of me. I truly don’t. Here’s another little nugget of experience – you can only please the people who want to be pleased. Those who don’t – won’t be. Ever. Stop trying. Give yourself permission to release people who aren’t enhancing your journey through life. Play to the audience who wants you to succeed. The audience who will support you, pick you up when you fall and clap when you succeed. Be that person for yourself, too. The journey is better when the passengers are willing to just enjoy the ride wherever it leads.
I like me…now. I’m still short and curvy. I still laugh too loud. I still curse too much. I’m still an introvert, who pretends to be an extrovert. I’m still awkward around new people. I still make ALOT of mistakes, seriously, like every day! I’m still weird, or at least I’ve always felt weird. I’m still all the things I used to hate, but I don’t hate them anymore (ok, maybe I do sometimes. I’m evolving, not evolved). But, I can be by myself and happy because I’m good company. I’m no longer afraid to try new things. Failure doesn’t scare me, regret scares me.
Someday, when I’m older, I want to look back at this time in my life and say, “You haven’t seen anything yet, sister. But, ya did good – We did good.” I plan on being a badass old broad. A badass old broad with not a single fucking regret.