The first time I realised I may not be young anymore was when someone told me ‘Wow you look so young’. My ‘Thank You’ was as half-hearted and confused as my smile. Later that week, I visited a doctor as I was having recurring headaches. The doctor prescribed me medicines without really trying to diagnose the problem. So I impatiently ask him what is the cause of these headaches. The doctor very clinically responds “It’s very common in middle-aged women”. Suddenly I didn’t care about the headaches. I had a bigger problem at hand – I was middle aged.
And so the five stages of grief begin..
Denial is nature’s way of allowing only as much pain as you can handle. So after a few days I had convinced myself that I am going to live till 80 and so middle-age would be when I touch 40. And right now I am in my early thirties so ‘All is well’.
Next, on a flight with my husband we were chatting about the crew and he suddenly referred to them as ‘these kids’. We both looked at each other. He had shocked himself too. These airhostesses should be around 22 – 24 yrs old. When did they become kids for us? But I immediately told myself that it only means my man is getting old. Doesn’t matter if we are the same age.
However these days I seem to be correcting myself too often while using words like ‘These Days’ and ‘These youngsters’ hoping no one noticed.
Earlier, I used to go for an early morning shift after an all-night party. Now I don’t party even on Saturdays as I don’t want to party 2 weekends in a row. I like the sound of quiet and the sight of no one around.
With friends, while talking about Bollywood actresses, I realised I hadn’t heard of many names. I promptly added that am very confused between Kriti and that other actress whose name I can’t remember. And suddenly I remembered years back my mom saying ‘Aaj kal all actresses look the same’ and I would laugh at her for not being updated. So when did I become my mom’s age. Why wasn’t I given a prior notice?
And then there are people who give you that clichéd response ‘Age is just a number’. And I want to tell them: Yes, your bank balance is just a number. Your weight is just a number. Your twitter followers are just a number. Your size that you are very proud of is just a number. What’s your point uncle?
And then there are those who say I am still young at heart. Except of course they panic every time they have an acidity attack worrying if it is an impending heart attack or just gas.
Recently at a friend’s 40th birthday I was asked to give a speech. When you have alcohol and someone else also getting added to the F Age, you can go over-board with joy. And suddenly I am talking about 40 being synonymous with the word ‘Lose’. You lose your youth. You realise all the years you lost doing things that don’t matter. And most importantly you have Loose Skin. Am pretty sure she regretted having me over.
I remember always complimenting my husband for taking some of my best pictures. I used to think it’s a combination of his love for me along with his photography skills. But these days it goes like this…
“At least take one good pic so that I can finally update my DP”
“Why have you captured me looking like Michael Jackson”
“Why couldn’t you tell me to smile less while taking the pictures”
Either he doesn’t love me anymore or he is getting old.
And sometimes denial is combined with double standards when you look at a 45 year old and call her Aunty. However when you hear some 25 year old telling you Aunty, you want to pluck his eyeballs out. They say Anger is one of the stages of grief. And I seem to be hovering over this one for long. Well I blame the hormones.
And don’t even get me started on the hostility that age has with climbing. Why do we have to choose between breathing and climbing? What happened to multitasking?
So then comes the stage of Bargaining – if you are a regular Jane, you get obsessed with herbal packs and powders and cosmetics promising to retain your youth. But unfortunately if you are a celebrity, you go from Sexy to Scary with face fillers. At Dubai recently, I saw this lady that was a made-up version of Angeline Jolie’s lips, Emma Stone’s nose, Scarlett Johanson’s Chin and so on. Had never seen a combination of beautiful things look so frightening. But cosmetic corrections to look young are like an obsession. Similar to the one US has for the Kardashians. It’s annoying but you don’t know how to make it stop.
While I still laugh at those who frown at their phones moving them in different angles trying to read the small font of their WhatsApp messages, I know I am getting there soon. When I see a picture of me that I don’t like, I quickly remind myself that in 5 years, I will be looking at the exact same picture and thinking ‘Oh I looked so much better just 5 years back’. So I quickly feel happy about the present me.
And today, after 10 years, I am just so pleased when someone says ‘Wow you look so young’. Acceptance is the best stage of grief.