3.14.2007

In This Skin...

When Morning Glory first announced this week's Woman to Woman topic, she said something like, "Even if you're only twenty-eight, you're not seventeen anymore - you've aged." For some reason, that got me wondering: "If I could go back to any age I've been, which would it be?"

When I look at pictures of myself, the me I love the most is when I was four or five. A fluffy pink cowl-neck sweater and sweet shiny brown hair, all smooth and tucked around my face, a tender little smile, the epitome of childlike innocence and trust and hope. I'd like to have those qualities back. But on the other hand, I don't want to give back the experiences that have made me really value those qualities.

When I think of the ages that everyone stereotypically hearkens back to - seventeen, or twenty-something - they hold no allure to me. I wouldn't go back to my teens for all the money in the world, and twenty-something for me really wasn't all that. It's not that I don't have some fond memories of those times, it's just that I don't think I ever really "arrived" at them, or felt like I was comfortable in my own skin, before they were over and I was on to a new phase of life.

The first and maybe only time I felt really old or like time was passing me by was the months surrounding my twenty-fifth birthday. That year was so difficult on so many levels. I wasn't married yet ("old maid" by Utah standards, where I was going to school), I was "behind" in earning my bachelor's degree because I had taken eighteen months off to serve a mission (I couldn't even see at the time that the mission was priceless and so worth it!), and I had broken off my engagement and felt hopeless about where I was at and what I was accomplishing, and confused about what people expected from me and what I really wanted in life.

To a lesser degree than in that twenty-fifth year, I think I've spent a lot of time in my life being uncomfortable in my own skin, at whatever age I am. Maybe because sometimes I feel emotionally sixteen and physically eighty, or intellectually thirty and socially nine. Since that twenty-fifth birthday, though, I've tried to live more in the moment, to step back from myself and look at what I have accomplished, where I'm really at, and to realize that I'm not being graded on a curve, in relation to all the other thirty-somethings out there. Because what I really want out of age is to find my truest and best self and to be it, right then, in the moment, in the skin I'm in.

My life is not as glamorous as thirty-something is sometimes portrayed. My body is not as fit as what some people say a thirty-something's should be. (Interestingly enough, my seventeen-year-old body was close to ideal, and yet I was so unhappy with it at the time...) But most of all, I am not old, and I look at aging as more of a chance to arrive at my best self.

From a purely physical standpoint, I'm kinda proud of the new row of opalescent stretch marks across the lower part of my belly. Yes, I might feel differently if mine got dark red, but I'm lucky and they don't - they're just very faint reminders of where my body's been and where it's going. I like the laugh lines around my eyes. They show that I've laughed at least a little, even though I take life and myself much too seriously most of the time. I have a few gray hairs, too, but they're all incident to things and events in my life that I would never change.

My one hope about age is to someday arrive at an age when I feel that I'm fully all "there" - when I really feel and know the woman that I really am, when I won't pass a mirror and think, "Whew! That's what I look like?!" because the me I see in my mind's eye is so much more polished and together than the thrown-together model I see in the reflection. I'd like to come to an age when I have a firm grasp on what I am about, when the way I see me and the way people see me isn't so divergent, when I know my real strength and how far I've really come, and how young I really am in the greater scheme of things. And when I'll feel my age in the best, most all-inclusive way and finally know that I've arrived and feel free to be carefree, in this skin.

I think I just haven't lived long enough to yearn for one of the ages I've already past, because I don't . But I believe that once I do arrive at that age and that feeling, it will stay with me, no matter how old I get.

Maybe it will be when I'm forty.

Or maybe when I am seventy-five. I don't know when it will be.

But I do know it starts today, learning to love where I'm at and what I'm doing and knowing that it all makes up the me that's in this skin.

***

For more Woman to Woman thoughts, skip on over to Morning Glory's Mr. Linky today and read what others have to say about being in this skin.

18 comments:

Tigersue said...

I really liked how you approached this topic. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Julie said...

Love your post! You've made some great points. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :-)

Dawn said...

Some great thoughts, as I'm finding everywhere today. I too was one of those "old maids" who didn't make it out of Christian college with my MRS or PHT.

Linds said...

I love the way you ended your post.

"But I do know it starts today, learning to love where I'm at and what I'm doing and knowing that it all makes up the me that's in this skin."

I think that sums it up just perfectly!

An Ordinary Mom said...

"To a lesser degree than in that twenty-fifth year, I think I've spent a lot of time in my life being uncomfortable in my own skin, at whatever age I am. Maybe because sometimes I feel emotionally sixteen and physically eighty, or intellectually thirty and socially nine."

This is probably true with a lot o us. However, I think I slowly am learning to be comfortable in my own skin and I am learning to be happy to be me ... not someone else.

I also loved your comment about how when you were 17 and had the ideal body, you still weren't completely happy. Point very well taken :)!!

We are all glad you are you and that you are where you are today.

Lei said...

"what I really want out of age is to find my truest and best self and to be it, right then, in the moment, in the skin I'm in." - this is key! thank you so much for your thoughts. it has been wonderful to read everyone's perspective on this topic. i love it! i hope you'll join us again. :)

Theresa said...

I love the way you expressed your thoughts in this post!!! I think as I have reached my mid-40's, I'm really starting to be comfortable with who I am.

I have a page from my Mary Engelbreit calendar at work that I posted next to my computer, it shows an older woman looking in a mirror as she checks her hair, but the reflection shows a much younger, thinner version. The message below reads: We are always the same age inside. How true!!!

Kristen said...

I can relate to so much of what you wrote in this post! Especially about the 25th birthday time because I was in the same boat: not married, no boyfriend, no degree, approaching 30....

I loved your post on this. I hope to one day feel completely comfortable in my skin, too. Who knows when it will ever happen. I think it's an on going ever lasting process! :-)

My post is up, too.

Susie said...

I think you have a good grasp on the again process and realizing that it's all about accepting where you are now! Age is just a number and a state of mind!!
:)

Mommy Dearest said...

My mother would always say she wouldn't want to go back to my age, whatever that age might be. Maybe we grow in wisdom, and going back means giving that up. I was very upset about turning 30, but when I hit 40 last year it was no big thing.

Amanda said...

Wow, that was incredibly well said. I have felt much the same way, never quite comfortable in my own skin for one reason or another. I guess I suffer from that, "I'll be happy when, or if this would only happen, or if...." syndrome sometimes. We really do have to enjoy each moment for what it's worth whether or not we are our ideal self.

Morning Glory said...

As usual, you post something that I'm glad I read. I think the hardest thing to do is to give ourselves credit for what we actually have accomplished personally.

I remember when I was around 25, I had the bad habit of comparing myself to others and I just saw myself as so untalented and insignificant. I stepped back and looked at myself and realized there were things I could do that others could not. It was one of those epiphany moments.

Thanks for sharing your heart once again.

Angela said...

Wuh-WOW-WEE! This was a beautiful post. It's so timely for me too. I don't know that I've struggled in the past the way that you've described (so well!) but I feel the struggling now. Am I really getting grey hairs, am I really 30-something, is this really the body I have, is this really what it's about...
Just this morning I was looking in the mirror having a "who ARE you woman!?" experience and it feels like this post couldn't be more timely. You have a good handle on things, and as per usual, your way of expressing it is artful, beautiful, and enjoyable to read at the very least.
In finding the "age" you love, I hope you also see what others see and love so much about you.
Excellent post.

Rachel Anne said...

It's funny, I just posted something along a similar vein a few days ago....so I really appreciated your post today! Great thoughts, thank you.

Jennifer said...

Lovely thoughts. I wholeheartedly agree--I am happy in my skin (at 36!), and love the way that I've matured, even since my mid-twenties.

Tammy said...

These were some great thoughts! I have been reading so many of the participants in this, and all have been wonderful, though all slightly different.
I was an "old maid" until I was 32...surprisingly, I felt young back then, though, and it's only now, at 44, that I'm having a hard time with becoming truly middle aged.
I want so much to get to that point where I can feel more comfortable with the aging process, though!
Sounds like you have a much healthier mindset and that's a great start, even though you're only in your 30's! :)
Blessings!

megachick said...

great post!
i have a friend who was VERY nervous about turning 30. my sister had it bad turning 33. i haven't hit a birthday yet that made me freak. it's funny how everyone has a different idea of when they get 'old', but when is the age when you get 'comfortable'?

Penless Thoughts said...

I enjoyed your post a lot. I still haven't arrived at an age I'd be willing to go back to. Each step and year has been my path with my Lord and I just want to continue, and continue on with Him.