In a time where youth is a constant obsession, Paromita Bardoloi speaks to seven women above 30 on ageing and how accepting the natural process of life has made them value the gifts of time.
The market is flooded with products promising to be the fountain of youth. Stay young, be beautiful seems to be the mantra of the day. And no, this trend is not limited to cities alone, the small towns too have caught on to the epidemic of sorts that promises eternal youth. The world around you would have you believe that if at 40, you don’t have the body of a 25-year-old, you have failed. Success and looking young is sold as one package. The society tells us we are inadequate. We need to have a young wrinkle free face to feel wanted and loved. Otherwise we are just another piece of trash. Doing so, it has control over us. When we buy what it says, we let someone dictate over us. It is no secret that the cosmetic companies make billions over these insecurities that we have within.
According to the most comprehensive analysis on the plastic surgery market, Kelly Scientific’s report, Global Medical Aesthetics Industry: Injectables, Energy-Based Devices, Cosmeceuticals, Cosmetic Surgery, Facial Aesthetics, Implants, Cosmetic Tourism. Market Analysis & Forecast to 2021 (Published August 2016) the current medical aesthetic industry is worth $52,405 million for both service and product revenue. Over the next five years a CAGR of 5.5% is expected and the market will hit $69,786 million in 2021. India is fourth on this list of plastic surgeries.
These stats just reinforce the fact that we have forgotten to celebrate the gifts age brings, maybe because there are secrets that marketers don’t want us to know. The secret that age brings you immense gifts. Yes, the body does change. But within you, you grow up to be full, if not perfect. Age fills your bucket. We only get obsessed with the lines in the bucket, but conveniently forget that the bucket is filling like never before. We had a conversation with a group of women above 30 about ageing and self-acceptance, it opened my windows to a completely new world.
Vinita Bahl a very popular blogger and a mother of a teenage daughter says, “Your threshold for nonsense starts diminishing. Now, even if people fart rainbows, you tell them it still stinks. The need to impress no one but you, yourself takes priority. You are competing to be better than you were the last year. Resolutions include near and dear ones. You become the center of your universe. And if people want to be a part of it, they have to be worth your time.”
That is the beauty of age. You learn that you are your first priority.
When you are younger, you bother about what others think, age makes you realize, what you think really matters. Bahl also says, “On a serious note, 30 plus is when you start dealing with news of death in families. People you knew once become a memory. This is that phase. And it puts things in perspective as to what is it that really matters. And you kind of weave that into your lifestyle.”
There is a friend of mine, we graduated together and we all turned 30 recently, but she refuses to be more than 27. She wears too many pink clips these days as if growing older is a shame and being eternally young is a badge of honor. I cannot blame her. That is how society conditions you.
Does age being you clarity about everything? Maybe not.
Sfurti Sinha, owner of Mintz Kitchen and a mother of two young boys says that she is 36-years-old and still confused about life. “Age doesn’t give you wisdom about life necessarily, what it does give is wisdom about oneself. I am confused about what I want but I am bloody sure about what I don’t. I guess it will take at least a decade more for the rest of the wisdom to arrive but 30s my friend has been the best decade of my life, and I look forward to the next few,” she says.
What age brings is the knowledge of who you are. As Oprah Winfrey says in an interview with Hilary Clinton, that age gives you the knowledge of knowing about your own life purpose, and then the choice of pursuing it.
Then if you have children, they grow up and that gives an added advantage. Sridevi Dutta a writer and a single parent to two teenage boys says, “Into my forties now, I find myself apologizing less to the people around me. And even to myself. I also find myself getting less embarrassed by occasional goof ups. My insecurities no longer bother me. I am willing to look at them with a detached eye. And finally it is also about the kids. Suddenly your babies are your allies. You can discuss things with them and ask them for their advice. Forties rock at so many levels.”
Every decade brings with it gifts and abundance which so many of us cringe to open. We still can’t get that it’s just our bodies that are changing and spend hours obsessing over that extra wrinkle or a stray grey hair. Shachi Thakkar who works in the USA and is also a mother of two, reinforces the goodness of learning to accept change with age, “you learn to live in the moment,” she says.
Self-acceptance brings with itself less baggage if you allow it. “Making decisions has become easier. I am less judgmental, more accepting. I really love life now that I am old. I want less and enjoy small things as gifts. I love unconditionally. I am richer in experience, I need less from others and there is no pressure. If things turn out good, great. If they don’t I move on. Life is easier, good and joys are more frequent and genuine, once I’ve made a switch from the “want more things” attitude to the “share more with loved ones” attitude. Mostly the pressure to prove myself to others is not there. I am the only one I have to prove things to,” says Ritu Lalit, who is a writer and also works in a senior position in a corporate house.
If lived well, age takes away the anxiety and guilt which most women carry unnecessarily. Age gives us the time and the understanding to shake off what no longer serves its purpose. We end up trusting ourselves more. Dagny Sol, Corporate Trainer and Blogger says, “When I was younger and something (or someone) gave me bad vibes, I would begin to question myself. Now I trust my intuition implicitly. Earlier I said, “something is wrong with me if I want to do this“. Now I say, “If I want to do this, it must be the right thing to do.” And I do it. And it always does turn out to be the best possible thing to have done. It’s amazing really.” In India age has one good factor too, Seema Tejaswee Rao, a popular blogger says, “Not only are we more confident in our skin, even the world respects (or tolerates) us more. India is such an age conscious society – we can say and do exactly what we did when we were younger but we are taken more seriously now because we are older.”
As my conversation comes to an end, Dagny Sol signs off saying, “thirty plus is when you genuinely don’t give a damn about other people’s opinions. And you realize that everyone, apart from your kids and (perhaps) spouse, is ‘other people’. In fact, in many issues, even the kids and spouse are ‘other people’. Also, you no longer feel guilty about giving yourself some time (and leeway) to do your own thing. And being downright wicked sometimes. You feel you’ve earned the right to occasional wickedness.”
Perhaps as we grow older, we should realise that nothing is more important than who we become. We should understand the power of choices and most importantly, get about the tricky task of making peace with our demons.
To age is an honour. To live it is a blessing. And to know this, is wisdom.