I always imagined that by the time I reached 65 or so, I'd be this delightful older woman with the best outlook on life. I see the then-me as peaceful and at peace, content in my world view and settled with the way I'd lived my life. I considered [few] wrinkles and gray hairs as almost cute tokens of how well I'd lived and loved and learned.
To be honest, in the last five years or so, I've been brutally confronted by my own vanity. My body has stretched to absurd proportions to grow and birth two (large) humans, and as the count of nights with broken sleep rises, so does the purple underneath my eyes seem to darken. And while I'm not old by any means, when I look in the mirror, I can also tell how I'm not quite young any more either.
It struck me that to become this older woman living in my future brain, I might need to become her now. Her carriage is bolstered by her general life outlook, and I'm not certain I share that outlook right now. I think grace is something that develops with time; and so if we hope to be graceful about certain things in the future, it stands to reason that we must be graceful now. "Age gracefully" isn't merely something we advise middle-aged women to do so they don't attempt too much plastic surgery; it's a mindset we should all adopt. Why? Because we are all always aging.
It's easy to apply this concept in terms of physicality, yes. Eventually, even sooner than we might have imagined, we face changes in our appearances. Perhaps some are welcome--things we've been waiting for! Like the mom who finally has boobs once she's had a baby! (I was hoping to be the mom whose boobs went away after she had a baby, but alas.) More often, however, will be those tiny things, only noticeable to us, that suddenly really do feel like a clock running out. "Ack! A forehead wrinkle! Why didn't I listen to my mom about furrowing my brow?!"
The point is, aging began at birth, and the only way it stops is when we die. That's just a matter of fact. So if we want to be the kind of people who wear our age well later in life, we had better be the kind of people who wear our age well now. I'm really ready, with 30, to cast of this yearning to go back to youth. Go back where? I hated high school! And okay, college was great! But that time of life was also exhausting. I'm kind of feeling peachy right where I am. That's going to come with a forehead wrinkle or two, and definitely with some weird, stretched-out stomach skin that cannot be crunched into place. So be it.
Because aside from the startling physical stuff, there is some aging that's taken place inside, and I like it. I like being an old soul grown older. I like what it's done for me in terms of perspective and opinion and simply how I live my days. When I think about my mom, I always think of her as graceful. (Don't roll your eyes, Mom!) Everything she does is with a soft touch, even the way she holds a pen or how she puts on her shoes. It always seemed to be so real and considered. I want to be that way. I want to be that for my girls. I like that life has slowed down enough, in my age, to recognize the importance of this. Maybe the only thing I do all day is make macaroni and cheese, but I'm going to do it well, with intention, with grace. Twenty-year-old Sarah might have dropped her jaw at that sentence; thirty-year-old Sarah is proud to have written it.
These are my real goals in aging gracefully: To come to terms with the physical changes (as I've written about before); but more importantly to allow this place in life to define how I move forward and how I think about who I want to be.