When I look at my face in the mirror I am usually content: I still look like me. One day I know I will be an old woman, and one day not long ago I was a young child. But right now, I look like myself.
When I look at pictures of other people I see them at concrete stages in their lives. They seem vividly aware they are a teenager or deeply aware they are middle-aged. Even when I see myself in old pictures I see myself at a certain age. Here is me at 4. Here is me at 21. But when I look at a photo of me from yesterday, or my face in the mirror today, I only see myself.
There is a quote by e. e. cummings in the office where I work, where students come in to complete their university applications and make decisions for their future. The quote is,
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
I guess it says something about living in the moment, my inability to disassociate myself from myself long enough to see that I look like 24-year-old me. Or is this the age I’m supposed to be? At 30 will I feel too far gone? Will I think I’ve changed, that I don’t quite look like myself anymore?
It’s a strange moment when you stop growing. For eighteen years or so you’ve been expected to be moving up in the world. Any changes are natural and wanted. Every day you assess yourself in the mirror for changes. You cheer when your boobs grow. Then there comes a time where things should not grow anymore, where growths become abnormal. But you’re in your twenties and people keep telling you you’re young and you try to live carelessly in your body.
I can’t really imagine what happens after this, because this is where I am. But from what I hear, besides my ability to run better marathons, I’m going to start losing things. The ability to have children. The colour of my hair. The sharpness of my mind. The smoothness of my skin. Have I reached some kind of plateau? What age is the tipping point?
I still think of my spiritual self – my non-physical self – as evolving. I try my hardest to work to improve myself. Does that ever reach a plateau too? Is there ever a moment where I have grown so fully into my being that I can only stop growing?
I hope that I look at myself as an old woman and feel like an old woman. That’s the only way to do it – grow fully enough into my physical and spiritual self that I feel like I’ve arrived.