I'm Almost 50 And Still Have NFI What It Means To Be An Adult
Ageing may be liberating for some, but it doesn't mean you lose your fears, childish habits or insecurities. Or run out of effs to give.
You know that feeling when you're trying to eat well and suddenly all you see is doughnuts? Or when you're trying to give up caffeine and the smell of freshly brewed coffee permeates the air?
Now that I am about to turn 50, I keep stumbling on women of my age espousing how liberating ageing is, how their 40s were so wonderful and how they can’t wait to turn 50.
They’re making me crankier than giving up doughnuts or coffee.
Could it be the same group of girls who conspired to make me believe I would be cool if I smoked cigarettes, folded my skirt up a few notches and rolled my socks down to the ankles in 1983 who are trying to dupe me again?
This time they’re telling me that ageing is the new cool, that I should be wearing anything I damn well like (unless it’s too conservative because that doesn’t speak to their narrative) and a huge dose of sparkle on my wrinkles. They are telling me I should be loud and proud, having lived through almost half a century (gulp) and I should embrace this mid point in the journey from young girl to, er, death.
Recently Glennon Doyle, one of my favourite people I have never met, said on Instagram, “Aging is the best thing to ever happen to me. Aging is unbecoming all the women I thought I was supposed to be and breathing for God’s sake. Aging is like being one of those Russian nesting dolls and peeling off costumes one at a time- till I’m left as that little solid doll. Just that one. Nothing too big or wobbly.I believe the spiritual/ official explanation for a wise woman aging is: LOOK AT HER! SHE HAS RUNNETH OUT OF EFFS TO GIVE.”
And full credit to Glennon and all the women who are constantly telling me that when I get to 50 I too will be out of effs to give. But right now, at 49 years and 11 months, I have plenty of them to give.
I feel much the same way I’ve felt for the past few decades. I look markedly different, that’s a given, but in many ways I am still waiting to feel grown up. I recall vividly how my mother and her friends seemed so old and wise sitting primly on the stiff couches in the formal lounge room of my childhood home drinking tea out of ornate china cups and talking about politics and literature. They were probably younger than I am now. I know my recall is tainted and they doubtlessly had their feet up on the couches talking about what was for dinner, but the truth is they seemed so adult from afar.
And maybe that’s only because at that time I thought I knew what “adult” was. Now that I am older I am not so sure.
I still don’t feel like I imagined an adult would feel. I still choose to sit on the floor rather than the couch. I still wonder how I was given the responsibility of raising a child. I still pat myself on the back when I remember to buy all the items on my shopping list and do a little internal high five when I get to the end of the day without any major stuff ups. I am still perfectly content with eating a bowl of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes for dinner even though my stomach will protest the milk and my bloodstream will howl about the sugar. My body is old but my soul is not.
I still carry many of the same fears and issues I did as a younger woman, even though I am old enough to afford and understand the importance of therapy. I still worry about my parents ageing and my friends leaving. I still carry a deep fear of many things – some irrational and some that other people promise are irrational. I am still petrified of anything happening to the people I love.
I still don’t understand fate and why I was born with privilege and people no better or worse than me were born without any hope of a future. I still worry about other people and I cry over animal cruelty. I despair about man’s cruelty to his fellow man, I worry about war and religion and haves and have nots.
But it’s not all soul driven. I worry about how I look and what I am wearing. I still buy more and more make up and skin care products even while knowing that they cannot disguise what I want them to. I scour the shelves for products that will stop the march of time affecting my hair follicles but still they turn grey and seem to reduce in both volume and number.
I worry about how I present and what people will think. I am still anxious about offending people or not being present enough. I fear being inadvertently unkind or saying the wrong thing. Just like I did when I was 30. And 40.
I still have many effs to give. I can try and put them away for my 50th birthday but I know that being older is not without issue, it is not always liberating, in fact it’s often the very opposite. Easy to sprout liberation at 50, less so at 70.
And of course I worry about turning 70…
Maybe I am just very young at heart – with a lot of effs to keep on giving.