I am turning 38 this week. And while I admit to having my own areas of vanity and self-consciousness, I don’t think I have the same degree of hang-ups with my age as many women. Nor do I have any hang-ups with my body shape or size (anymore). It actually floors me to realize that at some point in time in the past decade, I learned to fully and completely accept myself. Flaws and all.
When I was a teenager, I was painfully self-aware and sincerely disliked my body. I wanted to be perfect. My journal was filled with lamenting about stretch marks from growth spurts, disgust at cellulite, and the frustration of having short, thick ‘soccer’ legs. I would run, train, leg lift and more in the attempts to come to terms with the body I had. I actually think that one of the reasons I kept my journals from that young age was so that if I ever had a daughter of my own, I’d remember what it felt like to want to change the body I had.
Now that I am a mom with two young kids, I find myself checking in with them often about how they feel about themselves. So far, their comments reinforce to me that they have a higher degree of self-love and self-acceptance than what I did. But I wasn’t aware of those aspects of myself until the teen years, so I guess a part of me may still be holding my breath, and hoping that we’ve done a good job in teaching our kids those same lessons that I have learned over the course of my adult years:
“I am enough”
“I don’t have to be perfect”
“I am grateful for what I have”
“I am grateful for who I am”
“I love myself”
“I am worthy of love”
Or as Audra has stated, “I’m grateful for being myself.” YES.
I think that time has allowed me to mature, see value in myself in ways I didn’t when I was younger, and to learn to be compassionate with myself. As a recovering perfectionist, this process has been several decades in the making.
When I look in the mirror, I can’t miss seeing the fine lines around my eyes – even when I’m not smiling. I sometimes wonder what magic cream I can find to delay the onset. Wrinkles are not something I was planning on having to deal with. I see the scraggly grey hairs that are beginning to crop up on my head, and I content myself with plucking them out – while wondering if I’ll ever let myself go grey. I find myself plucking facial hairs almost every night – this is just not something I had to do in the past.
I realize that I could be at risk for allowing my earlier obsession with wanting a perfect body to transfer into a new obsession to want to look young forever. I laugh at the fact that I’ve been asked for ID when purchasing alcohol several times in the last few years… but in retrospect, I guess the funny part of it is that I know that there really isn’t any way of me passing for 25, let alone 19. I wonder if the LCBO knew they might get more repeat female customers by having a quota to ID women who are in their 30’s (even when they know that they are indeed old enough). Hmmm…
I guess it comes down to the fact that I have to learn to accept that time is going to pass and that my face and my body will change. And even more importantly, that neither of these attributes defines who I am.
Just to prove it to myself – I took this picture on a whim: post-workout, un-showered, no makeup – I didn’t even have my hair brushed. (I’m not too sure about doing the same in a bathing suit though!)
Maybe I do only have a few years left to feel that I can pull off a bikini … OR I could choose to accept that how I look in one will continue to evolve. AND that maybe it’s my perception of myself that will allow this to happen. Maybe my time of passing for a twenty-something has passed – but the reality is that I wouldn’t trade the experience and wisdom time has given me simply to look a certain way or a certain age.
The fact is that I DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT.
Who set those standards, anyways?!
Everyone ages. Everyone wrinkles. Time changes us.
The images we see in the media are simply not reality: most are photo-shopped, as I’m sure many of you have seen in recent videos that have been floating around the internet. And while I was never aware of trying to emulate them, obviously I have still been influenced.
So I am defining my beauty in an un-Hollywood way.
Why should I care what others think of me when it is my own self love that allows me to shine and bring the best of who I am to the world?
I am embracing my age, loving the experience and wisdom that time has given me.
I am remembering that my body created, supported and nurtured two lives. In my children, I see the two most beautiful, natural works-of-art I have ever witnessed. How could I ever do anything BUT love the body and the woman who gave birth to them?!
I am working on loving my imperfections. They are not me.
I AM much more than how I look.
I choose to focus my attention on who I am being each day. I focus on how strong my body has become, celebrating that at age 38, I am in the best shape of my life. I can lift heavier, go faster, and learn new things that I could not do a short two years ago. I appreciate that I have a husband who finds me beautiful and sexy – who tells me so every day – and who supports me in every challenge I face through his certainty that I am fully capable in every thing I do. In these ways and more, Dean has been a key player for me in becoming happy with who I am.
I focus on having great energy, on being able to play full-out with my kids, and for being able to go about my busy life without the constant fear of falling short. I am inspired by the women around me who are older – whether by years or decades – and who continue to push their limits constantly – whether that be in fitness, career, learning or making a difference in this world.
I look at all the women around me every day – in my practice, in my friends, in the women I work out with, and in my community – and see how beautiful they are in so many ways. Loving, nurturing, giving, strong, confident, courageous – and unique. I see the beauty that lies inside and out and marvel at the wondrous variety that exists.
I see that the world is one of beauty, no matter who the beholder may be.
And that is not a definition that can be put into a picture – even if it were photo-shopped.
You ARE beautiful. Trust me.