Do You Get Along with Your Number?
+ 5 Ways to Keep Feeling Young Inside & Out
I recently celebrated a birthday and added another mark on the timeline of my life.
The number that is my age broadcasts things like:
NOT YOUNG ANYMORE
But I don’t feel my number.
My number doesn’t match who I am inside my head. My number makes me feel old when I say it. I’m in a bit of a battle with my number: My number keeps telling me every day that it’s real; my mind continues to resist and push back and tell my number, “YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!”
Many years ago my dad observed that he believed that each person in his mind is a certain age – always. An age a person would be if he didn’t know his actual age. My dad’s age in his mind was 25 – it didn’t matter that we were having this conversation when he was in his 50’s. In his head, he felt the same as he did when he was 25.
That really struck me. I’d never considered it before I heard him say it. I examined my own experience up to that point and realized that my forever age was 30. It occurred to me that even when I was 21, my age in my head was 30. That’s the age I would be if I didn’t know how old I was. It explained why I always felt a little out of sync with my peers all those years in my late teens and early twenties. It explains why I have relationships with people many years my junior but feel in many ways equal.
So, traveling along that constantly moving timeline creates a dilemma for me. My number is real. As much as I keep pushing back and resisting, all the things that my number keeps telling me are facts. There are undeniable realities about being my number.
I can’t deny what the mirror tells me – and I’ll admit that’s a little bit hard to accept. Especially since I’m only 30 in my head. I have lines in my face that I didn’t have even a few years ago. The loss of elasticity in my skin is real. I’m having to reconcile myself to the realities of the march of time.
Maybe what makes being my number difficult is the actual FACT that I have fewer years left on the planet than I’ve already had. That kind of throws the reality of my number right in my face.
I don’t like it.
So how do I make peace with this?
I can choose to “listen” to my number – act the way my number tells me is appropriate. Or not. Or maybe there’s something in between. Maybe what I choose is to respect the wisdom of my years – the part I about my number that I love – and at the same time reject what doesn’t feel like me.
I can be my best self. My number puts me in the position of being able to look back on my life and the choices I’ve made. I realize I’m still young enough to redirect. I have the opportunity to ask myself if I’ve done the things I wanted to do. I have time to choose things I didn’t do.
In fact, I really have the opportunity to be even more creative. I find myself in the position of being able to choose to do things that I wasn’t in a position to do when I was younger. I don’t have the responsibility of a young family and all the commitments that go along with that. Demands on income are fewer. I have WAY more confidence personally.
In many ways, I’m having a lot more fun being this number!
Starting Dez & Dot is one of the new things that I’m choosing to do. After realizing a few years ago that fashion, trends, makeup, accessories, products were my hobby and a lot of fun, I regretted that I hadn’t identified this earlier in my life when it was possible to pursue a career related to that hobby. I told myself that I was much too old to start working in a job that was related to my hobby. But then, a seed that was planted grew over a few years and became Dez & Dot.
So my number is trying to be my friend, it seems. Like a friend, my number is being supportive. My number is being my cheerleader, encouraging me to follow my interests; telling me “You can do it!” I guess my number isn’t so bad after all.
In those times that I’m not feeling so at odds with my number, I realize that my number is responsible for some really great things, things that weren’t part of who I was when I was younger: I like me. I’m comfortable with who I am. I’m not focused on what other people think of me as much as I am on what I think of me.
I don’t know that this struggle between my number and my mind will become a perfect marriage. In fact, I really doubt it will. But if I can appreciate and respect the benefits of my number and keep moving in the direction of doing things I love, then maybe my number and me will figure out how to live together.
I hope so – Divorce is not an option!
Are you and your number a little bit at odds?
The following 5 focus areas can help us feel less like our number and more like the age in our head both on the outside and the inside (if your number is 20, it’s still worth incorporating these in your life!):
- Do something that makes you feel attractive.
- Take care of your skin! Here are a few ways to keep your skin looking fresh, bright, and smooth:
- Remove your makeup EVERY NIGHT before you go to bed.
- Use a Vitamin A product like Retin-A (this is a familiar brand name for Tretinoin, usually available by prescription only or from an esthetician connected to a medical office and not recommended for all skin conditions) or Retinol products (available over the counter). It really makes a difference in the facial texture and fine lines. Click here to read an article about the benefits of these vitamin A products.
- Visit an esthetician regularly (that can mean once a month or twice a year). An esthetician can analyze your skin and recommend a regimen that is best for your particular needs.
- Brighten your face.
- Subtle and strategically placed face highlighter creates a bit of a glow and a fresh-faced appearance. Use a brightener/highlighter in the center of your forehead, cheekbones and the apples of your cheeks, under your eyes, the center of your chin, and along the jawbone. Be sure to BLEND – it’s supposed to be subtle! (I do this every day and then apply foundation over the brightener – it’s still visible but subtle.) My very favorite that I literally can’t live without is Bare Escentuals Well Rested.
- Take care of your do – hairdo that is.
- Regular visits to the salon go a long way to keeping a youthful appearance. It’s important to keep your style trimmed (no split ends) and in shape so that it looks neat. And regular visits to a good stylist will ensure that your style is up to date.
- PLEASE be aware of this if you don’t wash your hair every day (as we get a little older, washing hair every day is sometimes not recommended as our hair is drier and actually stays healthier with less frequent shampoos): I see so many women who I can tell did not wash their hair, and you definitely don’t want to broadcast this. How can I tell? The back of their hair has a “cowlick split or part” from sleeping on it. It ages women (how often do you see this on a young woman older than 8? Never!). Be sure to check the back of your hair and do a quick restyle in the morning if it’s a non-hair washing day.
- Keep your smile bright – whiten your teeth!
- Our teeth can begin to discolor due to consuming foods that stain (coffee, tea, red wine) or just the march of time. This is a pretty easy fix as there are a number of products on the market designed to bleach teeth. You can buy whitening strips or bleaching products at almost any retailer that sells teeth cleaning products. Or you can have your dentist make a tray that is custom fit to your upper and lower teeth and holds a bleaching product that is available from the dentist. This is a more expensive route, but it’s customized for you. I’ve used Crest whitening strips and they are really effective. I also have a custom-made tray that I can use with whitening gel. Actually, I think I prefer the Crest whitening strips.
- Take care of your skin! Here are a few ways to keep your skin looking fresh, bright, and smooth:
- Keep your body healthy and stay fit.
- It’s super important to keep our bodies moving and our muscles strong. As we age, our muscles start to atrophy if they are not used. (Think of older women who don’t have the strength to carry a grocery bag – do you want to be one of them?!)
- Finding time to exercise of often a challenge, but there are so many ways to fit it in. Find something that is fun for you. There are classes everywhere. Love to dance? How about a Zumba class. Yoga keeps you limber and balanced and has many psychological benefits too. Find a local pool – they are sure to offer aquatic exercise classes. Or create your own group for walking, jogging, or hiking.
- Another benefit to regular exercise is that it helps keep your bones stronger. As women reach menopause, our bones are depleted of calcium. Exercise, particularly weight-bearing exercise, helps to resist the process of depletion of bone density.
- This is one that’s a challenge for me. There are so many good things about good posture. It’s slimming – a great way to shed immediate pounds. And it’s a way to tone your muscles as you go through the day. So many things we do during our work and home life require us to lean or hunch forward. It’s a natural phenomenon of our 21st century life. But it’s not healthy!
- Be aware of your posture and focus on keeping your core tight (i.e., tighten your abs), pulling your shoulder blades together and down your back, and keeping your chin lifted. It might feel awkward at first, but take a look in the mirror and you’ll see a more youthful and healthier looking you.
- Keep your brain healthy – don’t forget to exercise it no matter what age you are!
- Keep learning. Do something new. Even if it’s hard – especially if it’s hard.
- Do something you love to do
- There are so many reasons to incorporate fun into your life, including keeping life in perspective, relieving stress, and . . . how about just having fun!
- Make a difference to someone else
- It’s a well-known fact that selfless acts and doing things for others not only benefit the receiver but also the giver. Doing something for someone else is pretty much a sure-fire way to stop thinking of yourself. I think most of us want to make a difference in some way, whether big or small. It’s a way that we can give meaning to our own lives and possibly change someone else’s. So find a way that you can make a difference, whether it’s volunteering for a charitable organization or event, or doing something in your own family or circle of friends that supports or helps one of the special people in your life.
So my challenge and mission – and maybe yours too – is to make peace between my number and my perceived age. Makes life interesting I think.