I turned twenty-seven this month – which, by the way, is the same age at which my mother birthed me…and apparently sprouted her first grey hair.
Upon reminding myself of these facts a couple of weeks ago, I experienced the vibration of shock waves racing through my body, causing me to writhe in self imposed pain alone in my bedroom – you know, protagonist, pre-exorcist style. Denoting the onset of an all-consuming panic attack, and replete with the requisite spinning sensations generally reserved for geriatrics who have become disoriented at the supermarket, the feeling became substantially worse as I fixated upon the notion that I was, in fact, getting “old, ”and there was nothing that I could do to preclude the inevitable.
I’ve had a legitimate fear of aging since around the time that I was, like, twelve. When I was little, my Grandmother used to say that it felt as if reaching twenty one was a task on par with surviving advanced interrogation techniques at Guantanamo, but t hat each subsequent year seemed to slip through her fingers so elusively that she had come to be…well…
In the most melo dramatic act of defiance against time/nature/God/the universe, I spent my twenty fifth birthday sequestered in the recesses of a dimly lit spa, avoiding phone calls and pouting like a petulant child who had been unjustly denied ownership of her seventh second American girl doll (I mean. . . Kirsten had always been my favorite because she was the blonde, sporty girl that I knew I’d never be, Samantha embodied my appearance in 18×5 inch plastic physical form, Bitty Baby was meant to serve as the little sister – meaning, she quite obviously held a disparate but equally necessary purpose — and all of the ‘Girls of Today’ could be custom curated to perfection, serving as additional options within my collection to be coiffed and clothed at prices on par with what actual people pay for the same services – NOT that I’m speaking about myself as a child or anything).
And, to be fair, this particular fear is not a projection of any neurosis instilled in me by my mother; rather, it’s entirely a byproduct of my own meandering thoughts, predicated upon a strong suspicion that society disposes of old women – you know, tosses them into the trash in the way that a girl does with a pair of Loubs that once bore perfectly polished red soles and waltzed her through first dates/nights out under the city stars/trips to the supermarket (sorry, I really need to stop talking about myself here), etc. While this belief has been hotly contested by various mediums across the globe by people who are far more qualified than I am at answering life’s most philosophical questions, the idea of turning twenty-seven just felt like tapping on the door of a haunted house old age (and, let’s be honest, only because someone was holding a gun to my head and forcing me to perform the function) and then being whisked inside by an over zealous host, to boot.
Perhaps that entrance equates to nothing more than tip toeing around the foyer of a much grander institution, and yes, maybe you’ll roll your eyes in disgust and insist that twenty seven is no where near old, but there’s something about the rigidity of entering into one’s late twenties that disallows for certain things that once passed as entirely socially acceptable. For instance, no longer is it kosher to call home because one has drained her checking and savings account again, to consider yet another graduate program as an excuse to prolong choosing a real career trajectory, to eat like an unattended five year old, sustaining life on chips, cookies and soda alone, or to make poor life decisions (like going back to that ax murderer ex because hey, he/she is being super sweet for the time being, Round 17), etc.
While scrolling through my instagram feed recently, I saw a quote that made me pause, ponder its rationale for a moment (Instagram and Pinterest decidedly surpass even some of the world’s greatest philosophers in their ability to drive a profound point home in thirty seconds or less), and then tap my IPhone screen twice. The quote suggested that we often mistake beginnings for endings. Upon digesting that sentiment, I rationalized (a word that’s synonymous with the concept of logic over emotion — don’t worry, the irony isn’t lost on me here) that despite my impending need for restalyn injections and Botox, maybe “getting old” would have its substantial perks.
For instance, my twenty-seventh birthday was celebrated among the most wonderful boyfriend in the world, some of his friends, who are fantastic, and five of my closest girls – you know, hermanas, the ones who I’ve continued to maintain meaningful relationships with even after the arduous and at times painful process of weeding out the single white female stalkers/gossip queens/flakes in the way that you do once you open your eyes and….grow up.
I think I planned that fête as a way to remind myself that my Grandmother was, in fact, completely right all of those years ago – time stops for no one, and all of us really do get old. It was a catalyst, a way to recognize that as we age, it becomes especially important to ensure that we don’t waste any of our days. And, in fact, since turning twenty-seven, I haven’t been particularly anxious about all of the things that I have yet to do in the nervous-breakdown-inevitably-impending way that I thought I’d be; instead, I’ve used this “bench mark” as a way to force myself to stop procrastinating, to use each day as a twenty-four hour window of opportunity in my quest to grow into the person that I’ve always wanted to become and to actively take time to make memories with the people who matter the most. That’s what twenty-seven means to me.
SO DON’T WORRY – feeling strong, confident, and happy. My clonopon prescription has only been mildly increased as a precautionary measure (kidding!) and I’m learning that while we can’t control our fates, we can do things to positively influence their outcomes – that’s how you make a life that you love.
…But, seriously — don’t talk to me about thirty.