Don’t tell me that aging doesn’t cause a few small panic attacks. For example, I keep having this recurring dream that I’m in front of a group telling stories, and I can’t get them to pay attention to me. In my dream last night I even went to my signature “breastfed the wrong baby” story, and people still talked over top of me.
I went to the mall recently with my daughter and her equally cute and perky friend. While there, I decided that my paranoia about being ignored because I am a woman over 50 was exaggerated through my own fear. So I decided to run my own little experiment.
I gave myself a pep-talk about how beautiful 50 was, and how lucky I was to be alive, and imagined myself running through fields with the warm sun on my face. By the way, I do not recommend using these visualization techniques while walking – I almost fell into a very shallow fountain.
Anyway, once I felt appropriately energized I tried to make eye contact with any male between the ages of 14 and 114, just to see if the whole thing was my issue and not theirs. For thirty minutes I would glance at a passing male and smile brightly, as if to say “beauty is not about youth but about how young you feel.” Well, when a man using a walker looks at your daughter and not you, you start to question that theory.
I want my husband to know this was not about flirting, but about being an exciting, viable part of the visual world. I wanted to be an attractor of other humans. So I decided to leave the world of males and started trying to make eye contact with other women. I would look at them as if to say, “I know about your life, and I’m here as a friend.” Unfortunately, I think one woman approached security to report me, so I had to stop.
Finally, right before we left the mall, one man in his sixties made eye contact with me. I smiled gratefully, thinking, “there we go, two people recognizing each other.” I reached out to pat his arm in recognition. Then I realized that he was staring at the Starbucks sign directly behind my head.
This is why people in their fifties start focusing on their spiritual lives and say they want to do something that has purpose. Let’s be honest, when the exterior goes we know we need to shine up the interior so it can project some light.
And, after all, what’s so wrong with that? Maybe we accept the fact that it’s now our job to help younger people understand what is really important when the surface stuff wears thin. Perhaps we should stop pulling our aging skin so tightly that it binds our burgeoning souls.
I, personally, would like to thank my thinning epidermis. Now I get to stop looking to others for acceptance, and turn inward. I am going to take a dust rag and polish up my heart and soul. Although I’d like to leave the surgery option open just in case I discover that I’m truly that shallow.