This is me…it was my birthday last week and I turned 41!
Throughout my life I’ve always had an odd relationship with age. It was never okay to just be the age that I really was. It all started when I was a pre-teen and one of the modeling agents instructed me, “we have to say you’re 14 instead of 12 so you can get this job hija”. I remember wondering why I had to lie. What was so important with these numbers? That was the foundation of a career spent being ambiguous or lying outright about my age. I perennially had to fudge the numbers both ways in order to be eligible for certain jobs. These early interactions fortified feelings of embarrassment about my true age that lingered up until very recently. They also shaped how I felt about the aging process. I was constantly being reminded that I had to be younger, or perceived to be, in order to have a long and successful career. My age was a hindrance and I’ve been struggling to nullify this notion within myself for many years.
Society places an inordinate expanse of pressure on women to look a certain way. Youth and beauty are revered above all else and there is always the looming specter of a use-by-date. Women are considered past their prime before they are 40. This is drilled into our awareness from the get go and the majority of us women believe it to be true. We must transform the existing dialogue to celebrate women getting older. Slowly, but surely we are making strides, small as they may be. How do we transmute the long held credence that youth trumps it all? So that we can not only embrace getting older but effing LOVE the process as well. Well, it starts with us…because when we rejoice, more people will as well.
Personally, I FINALLY feel confident enough to admit, I’m 41! It’s taken me 41 years to arrive at this point in my life where I feel good about being honest about my age. And just the act of writing that statement in all its truth has released the shackles of a lifetime of shame about it. It has overhauled my personal narrative. It may seem a bit dramatic but there’s such freedom in being 100% authentic about yourself to the world, especially in this digital age of carefully curated and very much edited versions of people’s selves.
I have long admired my contemporaries who have welcomed their 40s with grace and gratification and questioned how I would ever get to that place. In the lead up to 40 I dreaded it so much. Each year after 35 was just another year closer to that big 4-0 which stood for many things in my mind, none of them positive. A kind of game-over. I wondered how other women were able to rejoice when society continually reminds you that you’re no longer appreciated or of much worth after a certain age. When I turned 40, I was still not ready to fully accept it and every time I thought about how old I was I would cringe. For me, this whole year has been spent working determinedly to reach a space of clarity and contentment . To wholly appreciate that I’ve been blessed with 40 years, the amazing things that I have accomplished thus far, and how lucky I am to have the life I have at this juncture. I really devoted extra time to my personal growth and ran a marathon, did a spiritual pilgrimage in Spain, focused on outreaches, and traveled to Iceland among a slew of other things. These adventures and periods of self reflection allowed me to shift my perception and illuminate what a privilege it is to be 40 and how much I love where I am right here and now. As my birthday was around the corner, I’m thankful that I was able to experience this epiphany before I turn 41!
All of the women that I know are much better versions of themselves than they were 10 or 20 years ago, myself included. Turning 40 provided me with a much needed milestone to truly value how far I’ve come in life. Age gifts you with wisdom, perspective, and confidence that you simply cannot attain any other way.
In this special daily 5 part series I salute women of all ages and get their diverse insights on how we can empower the world to celebrate the beauty, spirituality, wisdom, and authenticity of aging.
No Makeup makeup by Jigs Mayuga
Images by Sara Black
Hair by Teng Roma Salon for L’Oreal Philippines