Ashamed of Being Ashamed of Looking Older


The other day, while I was browsing the shelves in our local library, a book title jumped out at me: Why Time Goes Faster as We Get Older.

Yes, time is definitely speeding up as I age. When I was a child, a day felt like a week, a week lasted a month and a year was forever. Now a week disappears in an instant. Every Friday, I wonder, “Where did this week go? How can it be over already?” 

I want to slow time down, grab hold of it and hold on tight. I want to savour each moment. I don’t want to get any older.

I remember when I first realised I was ageing. One day I looked in the mirror and I saw them: the first tell-tale lines around my eyes. How had they snuck past me? I felt a little ashamed. How could I have let myself slip into a visible old age? I should have done something. But what? By the time we notice we’re ageing, it’s too late.

Sometimes I wonder how I can go out in public with all these lines and wrinkles. What will people say? I suppose they could say, “Hey, Sue, you’re looking old!” (But would they?) Is getting old really something to be ashamed of?

After I’d borrowed my library books, I had one more job to do while I was in town: I needed to renew my driver’s license. While I was filling out the renewal form, I noticed something interesting: There is now such a thing as a ten year license, as well as the usual one and five year ones. I was thinking how good it would be to have one of these longer licenses when I noticed something else: I’m too old to apply for one. And I’m not just slightly too old. I’m 10 years too old.

As I waited in the queue with my form, my mind was busy doing some rather alarming maths: How many more five year licenses can I apply for? How long have I got before I have to have an annual checkup and driving test, to make sure I’m not too feeble to be in charge of a car? Oh my! I reckon the way time is marching on, that day will arrive very soon, like maybe in a year or two.

By the time I arrived at the front of the queue, I felt like a very old woman. I hobbled up to the desk and, with a quivering hand, passed over my form saying, “I’m too old for a 10 year license.”

“So am I,” laughed the woman serving me. (She didn’t look that old.)  “I do have some good news for you though,” she added. “Your license will be half price because you haven’t lost any demerit points.”

That cheered me up. I have a perfect driving record. Not bad for someone who’s racing towards extreme old age.

It was my birthday a couple of weeks or so ago. My daughter Sophie took lots of photos of my special day, and I accidently managed to get into a few of them. Later, when we were looking at them, my youngest daughter Gemma-Rose said, “You look beautiful, Mum!”

“But what about all the lines around my eyes?” I asked. “They make me look very old.”

“No, they don’t. They’re only smile lines. You smile more often than most people. That’s why you have lines.”

Just a moment ago, I was feeling ashamed because I’m looking old. Now I’m ashamed I was feeling ashamed. Perhaps I should now feel ashamed about wasting so much time writing a post on such trivial matters as my ageing appearance. 


Gemma-Rose is right.  I’m always smiling because I have lots to smile about. Aren’t I blessed? 

I think I’ll stop right here and go do something more important (like hug a daughter), before today turns into the day after tomorrow… before any more time races away.

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Comments

  1. Reply

    Happy belated birthday, Sue! I wonder whether your concerns of looking old marks the difference between the cult of youthfulness that is so predominant in the Western culture, as opposed to the reverence for the elderly in the Eastern culture. Of course, every woman naturally watns to look youthful, Chinese women included, but I don't sense as much concern from my Eastern female relatives or my own mother to look youthful, but my English mother-in-law is very concerned about it. Serendipitously, just this morning I was trying to picture myself looking very old and wrinkly, hopefully with a twinkle of wisdom in my eyes then! 🙂 For myself, I am very willing to pay the price of youth in exchange for a depth and wisdom of my soul.

    1. Reply

      Just hopping back to clarify that I'm not trying to invalidate your feelings, Sue. I've been fascinated by the many similiarities and differences between the two different cultures and am wondering out loud. It's so hard to have a discussion over the internet without the face-to-face interaction. 🙂 Just making sure that my comment above isn't taken the wrong way.

    2. Reply

      Hwee,

      There was no problem at all with your first comment! And I think you are right. Age isn't valued in our Western culture. Youth is everything or so the ads would have us believe! Wouldn't it be much better if we looked at our ageing faces and felt satisfied we were maturing nicely, valuing each line and wrinkle?

      Beauty versus wisdom… I think that's why I am alarmed at how fast time moves. I feel I should be much wiser by now. I've lived lots of years but I've probably wasted most of them. When we are young, life feels like it's going to go on forever. I now know if I'm not careful, the remaining years will whisk by in a flash without me using them well.

      A twinkle of wisdom in your eyes… Oh yes! I can imagine that. Sounds perfect!

  2. Reply

    You are aging gracefully and are fully beautiful 🙂 I think that getting older is such a gift. I remember when I thought 30 was old. And when I thought 60 was old. Now I'm 30 and my dad is 60. Doesnt seem like age matters that much anymore. I dont look at aging as the curse that society wants us to believe. It is such a blessing to have had this many years on earth! And I pray that it is God's will for me to spend a number more years falling asleep next to my husband and watching my children grow and, Lord willing, have their own families. Aging is such a gift!
    And Gemma-Rose is such a sweet treasure 🙂 I was showing my 7 year old some of the photos on your blog and he decided he wants to visit Australia. Partially to meet your family and partially because he wants to visit the Argyle Diamond Mine. Unschooling bunny trail: Minecraft diamonds are rare which led to discussions about diamonds in real life which led to a whole lot of reading about Australia.

    1. Reply

      Tessa,

      Oh yes, ageing is indeed a gift. I am very blessed to have had so many years with my family, and I also pray, I have many more ahead of me.

      Your comment encouraged me to find out more about the Argyle Diamond Mine. I didn't know about it being the largest producer of diamonds in the world, and the pink diamonds are very beautiful! We live on the other side of Australia from the mine, but you could always hop over this way before heading home. We're within easy travelling distance of Sydney, and maybe that city would interest your son as well. It's always nice to dream, isn't it?

      Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. I'm glad you stopped by!

    • San
    • May 22, 2015
    Reply

    Sue you are a gorgeous gal and friend! Aquinas arrived on one of our very poorly days and he cheered us up no end. Hoping to upload the pictures I took of him over the weekend, still feeling pretty washed out but at least we are making small daily improvements 🙂

    San xx

    1. Reply

      San,

      I'm so glad Aquinas has arrived and he cheered you up! What a difficult time you're having at the moment. I'd love to see a photo of the bear in his new home, but there's no hurry. Love to you, dear San. xxx

  3. Reply

    This is a wonderful story, Sue. Your girls tell the truth. Smile lines are beautiful. I wouldn't mind having those lines around my eyes. I've smiled and laughed enough to have them. My skin just doesn't wrinkle there. Bummer. But, I do have the grey hair. A few year ago the Mama lobbied me to color my hair, only because she does and how can you have a daughter with grey hair. LOL. Should I ever dye my hair, I'm going to see what the color of a lion's mane looks like on me. If I don't like it, I can always shave my head. By the way, there isn't any reason to ever feel ashamed about being ashamed of feeling old. 🙂

    1. Reply

      Susie,

      You must be the first person I have ever known who would actually like some eye wrinkles! You are such a fun person, comfortable in your own (unwrinkly) skin. I would love to have so much confidence I could contemplate shaving my head. Actually, my hair is one feature I'm not having any problems with. It hasn't gone grey and is still thick. My mother doesn't have to lobby me to get it dyed! I imagine my hair will turn white eventually because I have some white hairs in amongst the red. I think I will just let it change colour naturally, mainly because I'm lazy. Think of all the work involved. My hair grows very fast so I'd be redying my hair every couple of weeks!

      I think one of the comforts of getting older is having friends in the same situation, sharing wisdom and understanding and a good dose of humour! It's good to share with you!

  4. Reply

    Yes, friends to share with are the jewels of getting older. Though I must say I agree with Susie that your smile lines are beautiful! YOU are beautiful through and through. I would love to hang out with you if I lived nearby. Your soul comes shining through your photos in the artistry of your whole self!! Enjoy your amazing family…God Bless…

    1. Reply

      Cynthia,

      I would so love to hang out with you too! Your words are very precious, the words of a true poet. I haven't seen a photo of you, but I can see your beauty and strong faith in your poetry. God bless you too! And thank you so much for visiting me!

  5. Reply

    Thank you for sharing so honestly. I remember when the children we really young and it felt like the days were long and the years were short. Now the days and years are both short and the decades fly by. Time keeps ticking on and the generations come and go. When I start to panic that I will one day be past my prime I remind myself that we are all spring chickens in this place called time and space. Since we live for eternity we are simply getting started. I just don't appreciate how my body is slowly degrading (wrinkles, age spots, saggy skin and muscles) while I feel my mind is still young and internally feeling more alive than ever. What a paradox in which we find ourselves. I'm so thankful for the promise of redemption. Sometimes it feels my eyes are beholding the repercussions of the curse when focusing on my reflection. So I look at my beautiful and youthful children and smile. Thankful that they get to experience the high of youthful bodies while I get to experience the high of hopefulness.

    1. Reply

      Kim,

      You are so right about finding ourselves in a paradox. Yes, my mind has never been more agile, even though my body is falling apart. (Actually my body isn't doing too badly despite its appearance. I just have to work harder to maintain its fitness!) Yes, we weren't designed only for this life but ultimately for eternity. I do like your last thought very much! Thank you for stopping to chat!

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