I’m turning thirty-four in a couple of weeks and it’s all I can talk about lately. Not in the sense that I can’t shut up re: which feather boa to wear to my birthday party, but in the sense that all of a sudden I hear the words “I’m too old…” coming out of my mouth a lot. Apparently, according to me, I am too old to: wear my boob tube in public, listen to Beyonce, stay out late at night, live with flatmates, be single, have a lot of younger friends, or be attractive to anyone in any way. No one else is telling me any of this; I think most people I know couldn’t care less about what decade I’m in. It’s all coming from me, out of my mouth.
I remember writing about my twenties when I turned thirty (which seems sort of young now!) and feeling like I hadn’t done a lot of the things I used to think you had to do to be an adult. I guess one nice thing that’s happened since then is that I’ve mostly stopped thinking that only young people are entitled to excitement or adventure or love or beauty, and I have to say that in general my thirties have been a lot more interesting and expanding than my twenties were. My early thirties were, at least. Now that I’m getting well and truly into my mid thirties all those fears are resurfacing, and I wish I could be as confident as I (probably falsely) remember being even just a year or so ago. Is it just the difference between going somewhere completely unknown and thinking myself pretty bad-ass for doing so, and returning to somewhere beloved and familiar, and thinking myself merely tenacious and persevering? And why did I think that the reward for coming to terms with some of those old fears would be never having to think about them again, when that is clearly not the case?
A lot of this angst, if I’m honest, has to do with feeling suddenly, ferociously plain as of late. I’ve started to avoid mirrors lately, if you can believe it, and I’ve started to really worry about, like, clothes and makeup. I got my hair cut the other day and the stylist was all “You’ve never colored your hair? Hmmmmmmmmmm,” and then I freaked out about my grays for the rest of the afternoon as I tried on unflattering top after unflattering top in every store on Lambton Quay. Whenever I caught a glimpse of myself in a plate glass window by myself all I saw were eye bags.
I am not enjoying this at all. I know it’s a whole feedback loop thing and that if you feel good you look good and vice versa and that it’s all how you present and work what you have—I tell that sort of thing to other people all the time—but I can’t help wondering if whatever little shreds of confidence and cuteness I managed to dredge up a couple of years ago are all gone and if I am now and will forever stay completely invisible. I wonder if it’s just going to keep getting worse.
I hate admitting—I hate even thinking–that I would depend on outside validation in any way, and that that validation would be specifically about cuteness, or hotness, or pretty-ness, or fuckability, or what-have-you. And that it would be all tied up with being thirty-four instead of thirty-three, and that I would seem to have no control over any of it, and generally just am being really boring, because who wants to hang out with someone whose main topic of conversation is how old and unattractive she is? And aren’t there sort of more important things going on in the world for me to think and talk about?
I’m doing everything I can to get over this: wearing my cool sunglasses, investing more heavily in feminism, planning to get back into bellydance after a six month hiatus. It’s not working that well, though, because even I’m sick of my own company right about now. I just hate thinking that I’m doomed to not be done thinking about it yet..