Posted by : Sherri Cornelius Monday, January 24, 2011

I guess I’ve been in a kind of shock over the past few months, but as I was looking in the mirror today, it struck me: I’m 40. How the hell did that happen? How in the world did I become a creature that a man in his 30s (always my benchmark for solid adulthood) would not look twice at? How did kids born when I was an adult get to be adults themselves? Why is my hair thinning, my skin sagging, my body aching?

And the biggest question of all: Why am I surprised?

I’ve been calling myself middle aged for a couple of years. The main thing I’ve noticed is I don’t get as many appreciative looks as I used to, but somehow the age thing never played a part in my understanding. I thought it was just because I don’t take care of myself, and that’s part of it of course, but also it’s because my place in society is shifting.* And I didn’t ask it to! I’m still talking to people the same way, but more and more I find myself confused by their responses. People of all ages seem to be connecting with me differently, and I’m just now putting two and two together.

People seem less interested in what I say, but more obliged to listen; the folks who are dismissive and those who are intimidated seem to have switched places; I'm surprised when others seem to be put off by my enthusiastic manner. I fear it makes me seem unstable and/or on drugs. Being compared to a puppy was cute when I was 16, but now it seems weird. However, I think I still look good in a ponytail, but who knows?

Like I said, I’m wondering how I got here without noticing things were changing. But it’s pretty clear now that I’ve arrived at a destination. When I figure out where that is, I’ll let you know. It just struck me, is all.

Oh, I just realized the biggest question of all: Why don’t I know what I’m doing by now? Sheesh.

*I first typed “shitting”, which is also fitting. My place in society is shitting. Indeed.

{ 7 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. Ugh...editing problems have been cleared up!

  2. Heh, nothing makes you feel old like seeing pictures of yourself when you were young.

    I once saw this on a church sign, "Youth is a thing of beauty, but age is a work of art." I have carried that in my heart for over 30 years now, knowing one day I would need it. :)

  3. "I'll never get old," I said when I looked on people three decades aged. "I won't allow myself to become like that," I sneered at overweight and frumpy people. "I'll never be as lazy as that a$$," I giggled and pointed at my dad.

    And now?

    I'm almost 50. Closer to 50 than 30, that's for damned sure. And yet, inside, I still act and sometimes feel like I'm still in my 20s. Not in the good ways, but in the ignorance, the naivete, the ... well, the stupid.

    This job makes it worse, even though I really like it. It stretches me in a good way... a lot of good ways. It forces me to be responsible, to think about things I don't remember having to think about before. It makes me act like a grown up, and I get especially frightened when I consider my BOSS is expecting me to be a grown-up too. He didn't expect me to act like a young "kid" with no experience. He wants the 45 year-old man he HIRED.

    Why am I just figuring this out now? I don't know. I really don't.

  4. Great post Sherri!
    Could it be that these realizations don't arrive until we're older because the young are too ignorant to see them?
    Not too surprising, then, that you're just seeing some of these things. And let me understand this...are you complaining about the shift in your societal role or just commenting? I hope you don't feel lessened or cheated by it, since all you've done (imho anyway) is IMPROVE your place in society. I would rather be a wise woman than a stupid young girl who gets more 'glances'. I mean, who doesn't love grandmas?

    I absolutely love this line: "People seem less interested in what I say, but more obliged to listen; the folks who are dismissive and those who are intimidated seem to have switched places"

    You inspire me to be a better writer with stuff like that.

  5. Aw, you're sweet, bro. I am complaining a little, but only because I'm confused. But what else is new? lol

  6. The transition into midlife is a confusing time, to be sure, but also a new adventure, I've found. Very freeing, really, to be a little less "visible" in the old ways. We can be more visible (more authentic) to ourselves.

  7. Another thing I noticed is that not only am I not "sexy" anymore, but nobody expects me to be! I don't have to spend brain power lamenting my lost looks, because I'm just at that stage of life. More brain power for other, more important things, right?


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