It's a clear, sunny April morning in Bellingham. I'm awake long before I should be. I blame the cat, but it really isn't his fault. It's the lengthening daylight hours, but there's no way in hell I'm going to complain about that! I was standing in front of the mirror, brushing my teeth–minding my own business–when I noticed something.
I have some lines under my eyes.
OMG! I'm turning 30 in a few months! I have wrinkles! I'm getting old! I'm ugly!
Yeah, I didn't think any of those things. I thought, "Huh, when did those get there?"
You see, contrary to what the magazines and the movies and the social expectations of the day might say, I'm not that upset. I'm not going to race to Rite Aid and buy ridiculously expensive retinol anti-aging cream to slather on there every morning and night. First of all, that would require a lot of money and effort I'm not willing to invest. I am pretty excited when I remember to put hand lotion more than once a day. Secondly, I don't buy into the Cult of the Young that I'm constantly told I must buy into.
The cells in the body stop growth and begin the process of cellular breakdown that leads to aging and, eventually death, around age 26. That means, I'm 4 years into the dying process already. Some fine lines aren't too surprising then, right? Once I crossed firmly into my mid 20's I noticed something. The marketing of products to "Stop or Prevent the Signs of Aging" began to pummel me in every direction. I began to feel old.
There is something very wrong with a culture that can convince 27 year olds that they are old. That their most attractive days are behind them. That from here on out it's cover, correct, and cope.
I'm 29. I'm healthy. I eat better and exercise smarter than ever before. I feel strong. I also have some lines in the soft skin around my eyes and I'm ok with that. You know why? 'Cause I've barely begun to live. I might have begun "dying" 4 years ago, but it's going to take another 40+ (if all goes well) to complete that process. That's nearly double the amount of time it took me to get to the end of cellular growth in the first place! I have a lot of beauty and love and life and heartbreak and struggle and accomplishment to see still. I'm not going to fritter time away trying to look 23 when I could be out there embracing life and living it to the fullest.
Another reason I'm ok with them? I've earned them. The endless hours of running and hiking and climbing drenched in those pesky UV rays are the best of my life. I wouldn't trade them for Botox smooth skin ever. I also wouldn't trade the laughter, the smiles, the joys of my life that have helped with those creases. My life has been blessed with more joy than sorrow and more sun than rain. For that I am very thankful.
To my girlfriends and beautiful nieces: Don't dread aging. It's going to happen. Work on enjoying your life and let the wrinkles and gray hairs fall where they may. When you're joyous and full of a love for life you will glow. And that is the most effective beauty treatment of all.