I leaned into the mirror this morning, as I do every morning, and began my usual pick/pluck/squeeze/smooth inspection and dissection of my face. I lamented the fact that my roots were once again growing in which means it’s time for another coloring. Despite the fact that I started going grey at 15, my vanity still has not come to terms with it. I tell myself that one day I’ll wear that grey (ok, mostly white) with pride, but then I admit, today is not that day.
As I took a look at the creases between my brows, I was pleased to note that they weren’t as noticeable as they seem to be when I’m scowling at all the moronic drivers in rush hour traffic. And my fear that squinting in the summer sun for days after having lost my sunglasses on a ride at Six Flags would cause deeper grooves was unfounded.
But as I turned my head slightly, I felt disappointment set in. I saw lines branching out from my eyes. Visible lines. At not-yet-40 (and dragging my feet the whole way there), I could see Mother Nature catching up and it was depressing. I now had crow’s feet. How could I still feel so young, how could I still CLAIM to be young, with wrinkles that no one could miss?
My default mode at this point is to start bemoaning the fact that I am “middle aged” and “it’s all downhill from here”, to be saddened that half my life is over, to mourn for the pre-Loreal glory days when both my freedom and my metabolism were something to envy.
The truth is, I’ve done all that. I’ve wasted time and stress–and, yes, even tears–over the fact that I’m turning 40 this year, over the fact that I’m “not getting any younger, you know”. I’ve thrown that pity party; it’s not a fun place to be.
So this morning I decided I wasn’t going to go there. I decided instead to be bold, be brave, and accept those lines. While they might resemble crow’s feet, they are truly laugh lines. For those wrinkles to have formed, my skin and muscles had to repeatedly be put in that position–that smiling or squinting position. They say that the average adult smiles about 20 times a day and laughs about 17 times a day. As a baby that laugh number jumps to 300 times a day! That means, just as an adult, I’ve smiled about 158,360 times and laughed about 134,600 times! That’s amazing!
I have to say I’ve earned those lines. Not only that, but I cherish them. They are proof that my children’s corny jokes, crazy antics, and endless imaginations light up my world. They are proof that I’ve spent 21 years with a man who makes me inexplicably happy. They are proof that throughout life I’ve always managed to find those girlfriends who make me laugh until it hurts. They are proof that getting kicked out of public places with my sisters is a happiness unmatched. They are proof that I have parents who love me and taught me such happiness in the first place. They are proof that despite depression, unemployment, horrible bosses, foreclosure, death, doubts, medical issues, broken cars, Autism, loneliness, and personal struggles, despite living in the midst of a twisted, chaotic, turned-upside-down world, I have been able to find joy and laughter.
Instead of investing in miracle creams, laser cures, or questionable injections, I am choosing to embrace my laugh lines, my crow’s feet, my wrinkles for what they are. They are a symbol that I have not let the dark of the world bring me down, but instead I’ve chosen to let the light lift me up.