Recently, I had a conversation that went from great to not-so-great, and I think I could have handled it better.
It started innocently enough. I was chatting with a girl I’d met earlier in the evening about our mutual love of Veronica Mars, a TV show we had both discovered once after the entire series had wrapped up and made its way to Netflix. I mentioned that I wish I’d known about the series when it was still on the air.
“I could have used a role model like that when I was younger,” I said about the show’s strong female lead.
“When was it on the air?” I asked. The girl I was talking to was the fiancee of a friend of mine, so I made a quick guesstimate that we were in the same age bracket. “Were we in middle school?” No, I thought, it was later. “High school maybe?” I asked.
She gave me a funny look. “Well…I don’t think we were in high school at the same time,” she said, with what I (perhaps over-sensitively) interpreted as a slight scoff.
I could see where this was gong. “When did you graduate?” I asked slowly.
The number she spit out came two years after my own graduation, which I told her with an “Aww, honey” condescension that I hoped disguised my hurt.
Not the right tack to take, but it was my first instinct.
Her reply? “Oh wow, I thought you were, like, twenty-one!”
Here’s the thing: I get that all the time. I’ve looked like I was about sixteen since I turned legal, and have been in an ambiguous holding pattern since. Sure, I can age up with some bright lipstick and the right clothes, but at some point, your face is your face. And mine says, “You should probably card me.”
Of course, I get no sympathy from friends and family when I tell them this. “You’ll love looking ten years younger in another ten years!” my mother told me on the phone when I related this story to her. Ha ha ha, sure – but that’s a long time from now. And it gets kind of old being mistaken for an intern at work all the time.
I want to feel good about my appearance – to really own my age – right now. How do I do that?
So far, the options I’ve come up with are either: chop my hair into a mom bob (not gonna happen), or learn how to do theatre makeup so I could draw fake wrinkles and crows’ feet onto my face. The latter seems more and more reasonable lately.
I bring this all up because 1) I’m still letting this bother me (once she knew how old I was, did this girl really need to follow up by telling me she thought I looked barely allowed to drink the cocktail in front of me? probably not) and 2) because I get similar question from guys all the time. “I”m too tall.” “My feet are too big.” My shoulders are too broad for a proper suit jacket.”
And not to belittle the problems of being too tall, or having too broad of shoulders, but like, maybe we all need to step back and think about what the bad things are in our life that really, really aren’t such bad problems to have. I’m obviously still working on that.
Because my mother is right – I need to appreciate looking young, since when I hit 30, 40, 50 and beyond (shudder), I’ll appreciate that my face is in no hurry to catch up with those of my peers.
So tell me: what’s your bad thing that’s not really a bad thing? How could you re-spin it so it doesn’t seem so bad any more? As for me, any tips on how to better appreciate my youthful appearance?