When you notice the lines around your eyes, how do you feel?
When you imagine your next birthday milestone, what do you think?
Chances are if you’ve been socialized in our culture—particularly as a woman—your thoughts about aging may be causing you some stress.
It’s no surprise when you consider the youth-obsessed culture we live in.
We prize flash and novelty. We herald youth as the epitome of beauty.
We are taught to regard older people as irrelevant and out of touch.
Who would aspire to that?
And beyond that, we are taught that a woman’s value is explicitly tied to her sexuality—and specifically, her youth.
We are taught that a woman’s value is in her physical appearance and sexuality and that we peak in our teens or 20s (so a woman’s physical appearance and sexuality have a short shelf life).
Is it any wonder women become obsessed with their appearance and dread the signs of aging?
It’s not vanity or frivolity. It’s a reasonable response to what you’ve been taught. As long as you believe your value or worth depends on how you look, you will be obsessed with how you look.
And if you believe your age is a part of that, you will be obsessed with aging.
At its core, the anxiety, insecurity, and fear about aging is a fear about the loss of approval and about the loss of power and control.
Women are taught that our appearance is our power.
We are taught that our most valuable asset is how we look.
Even if your parents taught you otherwise, you grew up in a society that surrounds you with these messages.
Add that to the general disrespect of older people our society exhibits regardless of gender, and you have a potent poison cocktail of thoughts.
The fear of aging and an obsession with our appearance isn’t about aging itself.
It’s about power and relevance.
With thoughts like these, of course we would fear aging!
The fetishization of youth makes us dread being older, and we accept these fears as the Truth About Life.
We accept the narrative that being young is inherently better than being old, and we dread obsolescence.
But I have some good news for you.
All this fear and anxiety around aging isn’t because aging is inherently bad or awful.
It’s because of what we are THINKING about getting older.
But your power does not, in fact, come from how you look.
Plenty of conventionally beautiful people feel powerless. Just ask the 17-year-old cover model subsisting on coffee and cocaine, who’s terrified of gaining a pound. She may be booking magazines and making millions of dollars, but I can guarantee you she doesn’t feel powerful.
That’s because powerful is a feeling you can have, not a thing you can obtain.
You want to feel powerful.
You want to feel empowered.
You want to believe in your own power, within yourself. You want to feel like an agent who can act upon the world, rather than a passive item the world acts upon.
My power comes from my thoughts and my ability to decide for myself what to think and how to feel.
I choose to accept the reality of aging instead of resisting the reality of life—which is that we all age and are aging every moment we are alive.
When we aren’t willing to get older, when we try to seem younger, we are rejecting our current selves and our current life.
So of course that feels terrible!
People say that youth is wasted on the young.
But I think it’s more accurate to say the present is always wasted on us, at any age, when we are not stopping to appreciate and experience it.
No matter what age you are, your experience is created by your thoughts.
Your current thoughts about aging were programmed into your brain without you even realizing it. But it’s your job to rewrite that code.
And that requires that you decide for yourself how you want to value yourself.
How do you want to spend your time on this earth?
Do you want to spend it trying to stay f*ckable in conventional society’s eyes for as long as possible?
Or would you rather spend that time and energy on going after your wildest dreams, on creating your macramé masterpiece, going on safari, starting your commune, or whatever else you want to do?
You get to create your own value, for yourself, at any age. When you create your own value, when you embrace your power to create value for yourself, you won’t care what anyone else thinks.
And when you are living a life you love with purpose and intention, you don’t fear what’s to come.
Because you know you have lived on purpose, and that you can create your experience with your thoughts no matter what circumstances you are in.
I can’t wait to meet the version of myself I’m going to become.
You can feel that way too. It’s up to you.