Facing Reality

Warning: this will be a whingy post. If you’re not into reading other people’s whinges, I won’t hold it against you if you skip this one.

That's a Jenn Story

But I’ll bet because I just posted a classic illustration from the Wizard of Oz, you won’t.

I wasn’t ever supposed to look old.

In fact, I think I might have subconsciously anticipated a sort of Benjamin Button-like existence (except that I’ve never seen that movie so I don’t really know what I’m talking about). When I was in Junior High I was so tall that new students occasionally thought I was a teacher. In my 20’s in London, people frequently assumed I was in my early 30’s. But when I moved back to Our Fair City and started working with other actually 20-year-olds in my 30’s, I was constantly assumed to be somewhere in the 25-27 age range.

I know. You’re thinking, but are too polite to say, that everyone in my 30’s was also being too polite to let on that they knew I was in my 30’s. And I suppose there must have been a few of those. But genuine astonishment is sometimes discernible and it happened so often back then that I have to think that for the most part, I looked younger than I was. My hair was greying, and I’ve had a crease between my eyes at the bridge of my nose forever because I squint, but I imagined that somehow I would continue to have this otherwise youthful face, which would just make the grey hair kind of cool.

Now I am … no longer in my 30’s. Although there have been some “life hiccups” in recent times, overall I am happier than I ever was during that decade, so I feel like I should look younger than ever. But this week I started my CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) program and we had to get badges made for the hospital. I sat down in the chair, tried to smile at the camera, and what came out was … a picture of this typical middle aged New England woman, not quite smiling, with the beginnings of jowls. No. Not okay! I was finally starting to get rid of my double chin through my workouts and Shakeology, and the acne I’ve had since I was 13 has never fully gone away, so I feel that Jowls should have to wait a decade or two. And why the heck isn’t P90X3 helping with them??

I had actually already noticed these to my horror in a few other recent, less official photos, but now every day I have to wear this thing that looks like me, except I’m not willing to acknowledge that I look like that. I want my new colleagues, and maybe the patients I’m going to meet next week, to be mystified as to how old I am … which probably definitely has nothing to do with being a good chaplain. Now that I think about it. Okay, I’ll shut up now. Off to have some warm milk or whatever old people do on Friday nights …

Actually, I've liked warm milk my whole life. What if that's the reason I have jowls?

Actually, I’ve liked warm milk my whole life. What if that’s the reason I have jowls?

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8 thoughts on “Facing Reality

  1. I think the most important thing in getting older is keeping the positive in your eyes (yeah, yeah, what do I know?). Our bible study group has an average age of 70 when we’re there, and you can spot the ones that have been positive most of their lives. It radiates from their faces.

    • That’s a very good observation, and good counsel. I’d still rather not have jowls … or wattles … or whatever these are the beginnings of, but yes, I’d much rather have a joyful countenance than a sour one. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. First off, what is whingey? For a moment I felt like I was reading Jabberwocky. 🙂
    Secondly, I totally get it. The shock for me was not jowls… it is these bags under my eyes that cause me to look like the emporer from Star Wars on bad days, and also, a hair line that is retreating like a… I tried a few similes out, but decided they were all trying too hard. Let’s just say that my hair line is retreating.
    For me, I am channeling (ironically) my inner adolescent rebellion. I am resisting our societies’ arbitrary, (even self-destructive!) idolization of youth. I have decided that in Jeff-land, all these marks of maturity are things to be longed for, rather than than the phsyical characteristics of a 20 year old.
    One of the upsides to this decision: In Jeff land, in 30 years, I am going to be one attractive dude.

    • Love that. 😄 I got that far with the grey hair. Unfortunately, my psyche hasn’t managed to apply that same attitude to the gravitational pull on my face. But it’s clearly something to strive for. 😉 As for whingy, it means whiny, in British. I realised I have gradually also been losing my Britishisms, and decided to bring that one back…

  3. To me, some of the most beautiful women are those who age gracefully. Those who embrace their smile lines and crowsfeet and see them as a story rather than the black plague.
    You’re only as old as you feel.

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