I'm 29 years old which is relatively young, I think. Yet, I feel old. And most of the time people will add 5-10 years to my actual age and be quite surprised when I tell them how old I really am. I don't think it's that I look particularly old (although I do have gray hair already). I think it's more so my energy and approach to things.
To a large extent, I have always felt much older than my true age. This is due to two things: my personality and birth order. In terms of my personality, I am naturally serious and focused. One of my biggest challenges with having my own children is being able to relax and play--to do activities that don't have a particular goal or aim except fun. Not being able to just have fun will make you feel old and age you. In terms of my birth order, I'm the eldest of three children and growing up, my parents expected me to be more responsible and to help out with my little sister and brother. Again, I felt there was very little room for me to be playful and silly and so my natural inclination to be "grown up" was reinforced.
The other day, I was at the thrift store and I spotted the cutest little pink earflap hat with a big, old pom-pom at the top. I really wanted to get it but I told myself I was too old to wear something so silly and childish. Luckily, by the time I convinced myself that I wasn't too old and went back to get it, it was still there (for the handsome price of $1.00). I bought it, fixed a little of the crochet edgings that had come lose, washed it and then tried it on. I'll admit, I felt kind of silly but I still really like it. So whatever, I wear it. And it gives me a "youth" jolt.
For the longest time, I have wanted to cut my hair into a mohawk. I knew it would look good on me and would complement my face but the same tape about being too old kept playing back in my head. On Sunday, I just decided to do it. I'm having all kinds of anxious thoughts about how it will be received at work and in general but . . . I just need to give it a try. I need to liberate myself from this idea of being too old for things. I'm only 29 for goodness sake. And you are only as old as you think you are.
I'm never one to jump on that bandwagon of bashing women in their 40s and 50s who are "trying to look young". I mean, I guess there are clothes and makeup that are not appropriate for everyone but who are we to dictate what someone is "too old" for? I can't stand all these boxes we try to force people to fit into based on their sex, gender, age, race, religion, etc.
And I can't stand that mentally, I've been putting myself in a box. I'm really making an effort to break out and not limit myself based on some useless idea of being too old. I mean, there are good reasons to understand and appreciate one's age. You don't want to keep repeating the mistakes of your youth. You want to grow in wisdom and understanding. You don't want to stagnate at some juvenile mental age. But at the same time, you don't want to stagnate at some older age and become a person who can't change, who won't take risks, who won't experiment because you're "too old for that."
Again, it comes back to the whole challenge of finding balance. And it is a daily, moment-by-moment exercise.