As an only child, I spent a lot of my childhood surrounded by adults.
During this time, it always amazed me how ‘easy’ my dramas and catastrophes seemed to be to said company. As I would pout over an argument with a friend or debate a certain topic for a school paper, the ‘grown-ups’ always seemed to have the answers.
Inevitably each time an elder helped me through a ‘dilemma’ one trusty phrase seemed to follow, “With age comes wisdom.”
Once a young adult and out on my own, I figured I knew this now. I, after all was older and therefore most definitely wiser. Being the ‘baby on the block’ for the first five years of my career (post college) it amazed me how much this one simple sentence still haunted me. Colleagues with decades of experience before me would often compliment me on my eagerness, but remind me of how I had much to learn.
I recall many a lunch date (early in my career), sitting across from said colleagues and, well, being schooled. It was never disrespectful, often humorous and occasionally life altering. And… strangely … without fail it was often concluded with, “With age comes wisdom.”
Looking into the faces of those colleagues, their faces weathered by time and life, their bodies lost to children and gravity, I still remember feeling sadness for them. I was 20-something, after all, and just beginning my climb up the ladder. I still remember thinking how sad, that these colleagues were never able to do more with their career. They were so wise, so energetic, such an asset — it seemed a pity.
In just a couple of months I will be 43 years old.
Yep, that’s it — my age. I have committed the cardinal sin of all journalists, media personalities and women alike. No longer am I “in my early 40s” or even “40 something,” in the final week of this year I will be 43 years old.
This has been a groundbreaking year for me personally. Some of this I have shared in past columns and with still more to come.
An epiphany regarding this topic came to me during my recent coffee date with my girlfriend and her bride-to-be daughter as we discussed a number of things. The purpose of the coffee date was to help her daughter process a lot of the feelings she was having for her pending wedding.
As we spoke and hashed through many of the emotions, the daughter looked at us both in amazement. As her mother looked at her she quickly stated, “That’s the thing I love most about getting older, you learn so much. Not just about yourself, but about life and how you let things affect you.”
I must admit, at that moment, as I looked into the face of her daughter I traveled back in time a good 18 years. I remember being that young woman. I was so sure of all my thoughts, feelings and opinions. I just knew I had this life thing figured out. My plan was flawless.
Those two sentences spoken by my girlfriend weeks ago, really resonated with me. They’ve haunted me in a way, almost the same as the “With age comes wisdom” cliché.
During a morning run recently I came to give these things much thought. Yes, I run — another change I have yet to share details on. For now, I’ll stay on this age topic.
As I was running, I began thinking of the ‘me’ I had been through each decade. Of course there was the twenties, when I had it all figured out. I’ve touched on that already.
My thirties were a time when I reflected and relished on my accomplishments. My career had advanced to the level I had once dreamed of, my relationship with my husband was wonderful and life offered us many pleasures and indulgences. This was also a time, when I felt I really had come to know who I was. You know the story, the in depth look at one’s soul. The decisions you make. The people you choose to surround yourself with and how that reflects who you are and what you are about.
Boy was I wrong.
Barely three years into my forties, I must say I do feel wiser. More importantly, I have stopped caring about a lot of unimportant things and man, is that liberating. I have always been a person preoccupied with others’ opinions of not only myself, but my choices. The past few years have taught me to let that go.
No longer do I care where someone lives, what they drive or how they shop. I have friends who frequent Bloomies, as well as the Hope Chest and personally speaking — the store does not make the person.
What I love most about this decade are the people I have allowed to be a part of it with me. My friends now range in age, profession, as well as social class and I love them all. The great thing about my forties so far, is the sharing. No more do I keep tricks and details to myself. I truly have become an open book.
If I find a deal, everyone knows about it. If someone compliments me on a recipe or outfit, I fill them in on where or how to get it. No longer do I exist behind the façade of perfection. No longer do I allow others to think I have it all and it’s all so easy. That is a fallacy and I am the first to share it.
So what does this all mean? Do I like the wrinkles I see when I smile in photos? The answer to that is yes and no. No I don’t like the way I see the wrinkle first and my face second (that is a personality flaw, for sure). I do love the history behind my wrinkles, after all it took work to get them. Late nights studying, later nights socializing, early mornings soothing an infant or sick toddler, laughs and tears with friends, family and yes, even strangers — that is what my wrinkles represent.
In the end, I guess they are somewhat symbolic. Wrinkles (however slight) represent a rite of passage in a way or a badge of honor. For me they represent the wisdom I am gaining as I age and for that I am forever grateful.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.