“You can be gorgeous at thirty, charming at forty, and irresistible for the rest of your life” – Coco Chanel
That quote by Coco Chanel is the perfect way to start this article, which is all about getting older. When you’re young (a.k.a. under 20) you don’t really worry about getting older – and you shouldn’t. I’m 28 now and although I still consider myself young I do catch myself thinking and worrying about losing my youth. It’s a strange thing; nobody really wants to die young, but aging is also something that scares us. Especially us women. It starts with the physical signs that we’re getting older, like the appearance of frown lines, wrinkles and the realization that you only have about five fertile years left (hooray). Next comes the worrying that you’re almost thirty and the fear that you haven’t accomplished everything you wanted to accomplish by now. The phrase ‘where has the time gone’ suddenly has meaning to it and the fear of getting older suddely kicks in.
I love getting older
Why do we spend so much time focusing on the negative though? Apart from the frown lines (which I really hate) I actually love getting older. I feel like there’s so much I’ve learned, so many first’s and fears I’ve conquered and so much knowledge I’ve gained. My mother, who’s in her fifties, once told me that her favourite age was between 35 and 40 and I’m starting to get it. I still feel kind of unsure about my place in the world and insecure about so many things; and this insecurity is fading every year. You realize that as you get older, you care less and less about what other people do and think and so much more about what really matters. You worry about your own accomplishments and what really makes you happy. For many of us, being in our late twenties means we’ve been through enough to know that everything will be okay. We can stand on our own and deal with real grown-up problems.
Of course, this isn’t a universal truth. I’m writing this article from a coffee house in the Netherlands, where I live a very fortunate life. My problems are what people call “first world problems” and my daily worries include my career, whether or not to buy a house and when to start a family. My darkest memories include the death of my father when I was twelve and a lot of family trouble as a result of that, but there are people dealing with much worse.
I guess what I love most about getting older is not just the things I’ve gone through, but how I withstood them. There are things I’d never thought I could handle. I love the feeling that I’m so much stronger than I thought I was. I also love the feeling that at this point in my life, I wouldn’t want to turn back time, not even a minute. I like going forward and aging comes with that. I see the wrinkles on my face as experiences, knowledge and lessons learned. I need them and they make me who I am. Max Ehrmann put this into words in his beautiful poem Desiderata: “Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth”.
I’m turning 30 next year and will strive to be gorgeous, followed by charming and irresistible for the rest of my life. Like Coco Chanel, I will look forward to the years and feel lucky to have them. Because many of us aren’t as fortunate. Every extra year we get is one we should be grateful for and we should all celebrate life a lot more than we do. Be grateful that you’re getting older and love the fact that you’re alive – it’s pretty amazing.