I just had another birthday and I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of aging. My apparent wisdom gains over time and after periods of struggle…that’s for sure. I never thought I’d age gracefully, though, and I have no intention of going quietly into the curmudgeon corner. The aging thing—it’s a process that there’s no escape from. Its funny how with the arrival at each decade-milestone (for example: ages 30, 40, 50, etc!), my perception of when one is “getting older” seems to shift—it expands and becomes more accommodating.
I used to think my parents were getting “old” when they hit age 40—“Geez they’re getting over the hill.” thought my silly, teenaged-self. My, how things have changed. Age 40?! We’re just getting warmed up for life. Really, isn’t the idea of aging a mindset?–you can be as old as you think you are. Be careful what you believe, and what you say to yourself! Unfortunately, even with a healthy outlook on aging, the physical aging of the body can be a challenge. There are more limits on what you can (safely) do. How one treated themselves in younger years, lifestyle, diet, genetic and health issues all play a part in how we age and, it all gets more attention as time goes on.
Lately, my bigger aging struggle surrounded my hair. During the 1970’s, I grew my hair long…the longer, the better. And then, it seemed both girls and boys grew their hair long, mostly parted down the middle and hanging…just letting-it-all-hang-out. In later high school, I’d feather the top and cut the length. Over the years, I’d try to follow the current hair styles, yet, I always had a fondness for the long, hair. So in recent years, I’ve noticed some unpleasant changes taking place. My hair was getting some gray, and I began coloring it. Also, my hair just didn’t seem to hang right—it didn’t feel the same. The truth is there’s just less of it—I’m accepting that my hair’s thinning—but I’ve had resistance.
It reminded me of my Grandmother and how her scalp showed through her thinning hair. When I was about age 10, she showed me a picture of herself as a young girl and she had, long, long hair. She then shared an emotional story about how her father loved her long hair and never wanted her to cut it. In the 1920’s, she was a teenager with an independent spirit, and tired of the old-fashioned, long hair—she decided to get her hair cut in the then popular “Flapper” style. When her father saw what she’d done, he was very upset, and didn’t speak to her again.
I suppose my long hair was my expression of choice; my free, flowing self. What I’ve learned is that I don’t need my younger, long hair to express myself. Several months ago, I had a strong desire to see just what my “real” hair looked like and I stopped the coloring, cutting it short to see what was really there. MY hair seems to grow slowly, and at first, I didn’t like it too much. As the months pass, I can honestly say it’s growing on me. Instead of resisting the hair changes, I’m accepting them. Overall, I’m getting more comfortable in my own skin, with my genuine self–it feels good. In time, I can always add highlights, adjusting the color to my liking. For now though, I’ll continue to embrace my gray.