• 59°

Getting to know the older, wiser me

While doing a story on AARP’s driving class recently, it occurred to me as I was writing that in less than six months, I can join AARP.

I cringed.

When I turned 49, I made a promise that I would forever be grateful for each birthday I am granted and I’ve tried to remain positive as my birthday looms closer in August.

I look at the calendar and see August fast approaching and a feeling of doom hovers.

Looking at photos of myself, I see someone I don’t recognize. I keep trying to say it’s the lighting or angle that makes me look so different.

I wake up and each day there’s a new ache. My breakfast each day is accompanied by five differnet pills. Lines in my face are deeper and my hair needs colored more often to hide the grays.

And what are these dark spots on my face?

It’s not just physical changes that plague me. I used to stay up until well past midnight and wake up feeling just fine at 6 a.m. Now, I’m ready for a nap by 2 p.m. I recently went to a party with some friends. I got all gussied up and was excited to have a few drinks with fellow adults. I was ready to go home by 11 p.m. I was quiet and didn’t dance like I used to when going out with friends years ago. I was having a good enough time, I just enjoyed conversation. I kept wondering if I was coming down with something.

And I felt those drinks come morning.

I know, I’m getting older. I get that. However, I realized why my 50th birthday approaching is still bothering me, despite my resolution of gratefulness.

I don’t know this almost 50-year-old version of me.

She’s a stranger. It’s like the neighbor you’ve lived next to for several years but never said hello to. You may know their name and maybe what time they go to work and come home and how many kids they have, but you don’t really know them.

I’ve been fighting this older me for a few years now, so much so, I haven’t given myself time to get used to this new skin and learn the good in it.

I can clearly see and feel the “bad,” but I’m sure there has to be something I’ll like in the future me.

I’ve accepted the fact that I will be turning 50; however, at the same time, I’ve continued to try to forget about it, denying the person I am now to shine through.

I was a rebellious, somewhat introverted teenager. In my 20s, I was a little wild. By my 30s, I settled down and worked hard, long hours, raising three children. I became a grandmother in my mid-40s. While getting used to being called “gramma” was a change, it came with such blessings I learned to love the name.

With each stage of my life, I had to re-learn who I was — some years the changes were more drastic.

Perhaps this is why so many go through mid-life crisis — they don’t allow themselves to get to know the older, and probably much wiser version of themselves.

We can’t fight Father Time, no matter how we try.

So as August comes closer, I now resolve to not only accept getting older and being grateful for the chance to do so but to get to know this mature version of me a little better and more importantly, learn to like her.

Alyssa Schnugg is Senior Writer at the Oxford Eagle. Email her at alyssa.schnugg@oxfordeagle.com.