Over dinner with S the other day, I discovered a shocking truth about ageing that so far had been hidden from me. Ridiculously good looking, genetically privileged body to kill for, happy relationship and great career, my friend S was bemoaning the negative correlation between getting older and getting attention of the opposite sex.
‘In fact, these days’, he said, ‘it’s mainly older women trying to flirt with me. Not only that’, he went on, ‘when I accidentally catch my own reflection in a window, I regularly jump in horror, realising how much older I look than I actually feel.’
It shocks me that S, Alpha Male Extraordinaire, seems to be concerned about ageing. S isn’t particularly vain, shallow or insecure. If anything, he might be a tiny bit too deep for the job he is in. I have always been convinced he would take age in a stride, celebrating his salt ‘n pepper stubble as a sign of maturity. Instead, he has robbed me of the comforting illusion that at least one half of the population will age gracefully and with some sort of pleasure.
Don’t get me wrong. Getting older is tough. It’s tough not to give into the current fashion of waxy foreheads and puffy lips, but to stand up and cry, ‘I am going to age gracefully!’ whilst wrinkling slowly but steadily into the texture of a raisin. A single night out on the town makes me want to check into rehab for four weeks, two glasses of wine with dinner produce a hangover that was once reserved for the aftermath of two bottles, and anything less than eight hours sleep a night will be etched into my face in the form of deep, unforgiving lines. But squishy bum and bingo wings aside, I came to like getting older.
Ten years ago, my bum might have been peachier and my arms didn’t wave on long after the boat had left the harbour. But ten years ago, I have been so insecure and self-doubting that I couldn’t appreciate any of this. On the beach, every trip away from the safety of my towel was only possibly with an extensive effort to cover up. In case ‘something wobbled’. Of course, nothing ever wobbled. Apart from small parts of my brain maybe. Today, being definitely in worse shape than I was ten years ago, I don’t give a shit.
I am happy in my own skin. And it’s age I have to thank for that. I know my flaws, but I don’t fight them as vigorously anymore. I like the way I look. I never liked the way my 25-year-old self looked. In fact, I used to be so detached from myself that I was heavily relying on others’ opinion to form an image of myself in my head. A volatile, if not dangerous position to be in.
Life is getting easier the older I get. I am much more mellow than I used to be. Medium sized catastrophes don’t phase me any more. It’s experiences that only come with age that make life more interesting and add depth to personalities – something you can’t have when you are young. Thanks to getting older, I am happier than ever. And in a naive way, I had assumed that this counts for the majority of people. Especially for men.