This was written for Stream of Consciousness Saturday hosted by Linda G Hill where today’s prompt was to write about anything to do with age. I’ve been in a pretty dark, emotional place since I came back from North Carolina and my writing has definitely reflected it. I feel I have finally made it out of the darkness and I was very happy to write something today that made me smile and made me feel inspired. I hope you have a similar experience with it.
Breaking The Age Boundary
I believe the saying “You’re only as old as you feel”; in fact, I don’t believe a number defines anything about me except for how many years it has been since the day I was born. I think there is far too much significance given to that pesky little number.
I’ve struggled almost my entire life with self-worth and feeling like I wasn’t as pretty or as skinny as other people. Those thoughts have led me down some dark paths. After my last child was born, I actually gained weight to the point that I was over 200 pounds – in fact I weighed more than I did when I was pregnant with all of my children. There were reasons I subconsciously added weight, but I couldn’t see it at the time. All I could see was that I was ugly.
In high school when I was at my smallest, I looked around me and felt inadequate. I always felt like other girls were prettier, smaller, better at life. It was a really poor self-image time in my life.
Today, I am 39 years old; I’m the happiest I think I’ve ever been in my life; I’m probably also the healthiest, most physically fit I’ve ever been in my life. There are still times I look at my body and think it doesn’t quite cut it, but then, by whose standards am I judging it? Should I judge it by the unrealistic ads we are bombarded with? Should I judge it by what I think others think, or how others view me? The best way I’ve found to judge it, for me, is to remember back when I was over 200 pounds and the one thought I had over and over: “I just want to be a size 12 again. If I could be a size 12, that would make me happy.” Any time I start thinking I’m “fat” or “ugly” I remember that thought.
To get back to age after my slight detour into weight, I love breaking the unseen boundary that exists in society around age. “You can’t do that, you’re too old.” “You can’t do that, you’re too young.” I think many of the issues parents have with teenagers centers around that pesky number and how a number defines adulthood in our society. I think it is entirely ass backwards. There are some grown “adults” I’ve know who acted exactly like ten year olds and there are some twelve year olds who are wise beyond their years. So, how do we break out of it? How do we stop seeing people with an imaginary number over their head that defines them for us in so many ways?
I’ve always tried to see beyond the number. If my kid acts like a two year old, I will treat him or her that way. If he acts like a twenty year old, I will treat him or her that way. I don’t just assume because my son is 14 that he couldn’t possibly know more than me because I’ve lived so many more years than him. Does that help? Yes. Have I gained life experience and just plain experienced more than he has? Absolutely! But that doesn’t mean he is any less just because he’s 14. He has feelings and dreams and aspirations. He is learning more in school right now than I’ve probably learned in the past year. To put it into perspective, when I was his age, I remember thinking my parents were stupid. I actually thought I was smarter than they were. Now, whether that was the case or not, I don’t know, but I remember thinking that and it helps guide my actions in caring for my teenagers. Our children are human beings. They aren’t just a number. I think it would serve us all well to remember that when dealing with them.
What I truly set out to say is that I am happier and more grounded in my life in this moment than I ever have been. I have so many things to be grateful for. I have three beautiful children who love me and interact with me. I am in a loving, healthy relationship with an amazing man. I have a job that pays the bills and a roof over my head. I am also free to do the things I love – running, yoga, writing and reading a fabulous book. I’m in a really good place and it’s only taken me 39 years to get here. I’m hoping for more, but honestly, we aren’t guaranteed another day. Life really is too short to spend it worried about age or weight or if I’m prettier or not prettier than that woman over there.
Before I started writing this post, I was washing my hands in the bathroom and I looked in the mirror and truly honestly felt that I was beautiful. I feel like there was a light shining through my eyes that I haven’t seen for much of my life, but I’m so grateful I’ve found it and it shines through.
Age doesn’t have any bearing on happiness or giving love and respect to yourself. It doesn’t have any bearing on how you treat other people. Or at least it shouldn’t. And that is my message for today.
I hope you all have a fabulous weekend and remember that you are beautiful, no matter how old you are; no matter how many pounds the scale shows you; no matter where you are at in life, life is beautiful and absolutely worth living!