In the backyard of my family’s home, my five-year-old self ran carefree, unrestricted and untainted by worries or concerns over how I look, how I speak, what people think of me, etc. I remember the statement “They grow up so fast” being said a lot during those days. “She’s growing up so fast” – that’s what my parents’ friends would say to them, and always in that melancholy voice. It would confuse me. I couldn’t understand the negative connotation it carried.
At 10, I received the comment furthermore. “You’re growing up so fast,” and again, with the sad eyes.
When I turned 15, it was almost unbearable.
“I miss when you were a kid.”
“She’ll be 18 before you know it,” they would say, and the way it was said, you would think being 18 meant the peak of your life had just passed.
“She’s older now, too old to have fun.”
Now that I am 20 getting ready to turn 21, the comments have changed – They’re worse. Almost every interaction I have with an older person ends with a question for me about college and my life in general. And almost every single one of those times, they say to me, “Enjoy it while it lasts. You won’t be young forever.”
Older women will say to me, “Once you’re older, you can’t do that anymore.” They say I can’t grow out my hair too long once I’m older. They say that beyond 30 years old, I have to wear makeup to work.
“Once you reach about 29 to 30 years old, you really need to start thinking about settling down.”
“Older women shouldn’t wear skirts.”
There are a million and one negative connotations surrounding aging, especially aging as a woman. I have realized that I have been told all my life to “Enjoy it while it lasts” because my society does not value aging. In society, aging is horrible. It’s awful. The devil’s curse on mankind. The thing we don’t talk about at the dinner table; that we don’t talk about with pride.
We think it’s sad. Depressing. Something inevitable, but disgraceful. Something we look upon with sadness as we stare at our blossoming children.
But your age is beautiful.
You can play baseball with your children if you want to – you’re not too old for that.
You can swim in the ocean with your friends – you’re not too old for that.
You can wear a skirt if you like.
You can go bare-faced to work, wear your hair long or short, sing at the top of your lungs in your car, go to concerts, wear brightly-colored clothing, play video games, get on your hands and knees and crawl through your toddler’s tent, run through the sprinklers, and everything else.
You can do whatever the hell you want, because you will never be too old.
And you being old will always be a beautiful thing – because you will be you, but with more life in you, more stories to tell. You will have fire in your veins and a heart that has beat longer than others.
Your bones may become brittle with time and your friends may say you are graying, but when I look into your eyes, I will still see the same kid from down the block. Your physical energy may dwindle, but inside, it will still be there.
Your hands will still leave the same print tomorrow as they have done today.
And your beauty will be in ignoring the ones who say it ended a long time ago.
And if they try to tell you that you’ve lost your beauty in aging, take out your water gun and blast them in the face, and show them where your youth lies.
HC with care,
Your USFSP Her Campus Prez,
*Images uncopyrighted, provided by Pixabay