Earlier this year something weird started happening to me. People started guessing my age for 5-8 years younger than I actually was. For someone who had always looked older, now people were clocking me for 24 instead of 30. The first time it happened I thought it was bizarre, but then it happened again. And again. And again.
My initial surprise was quickly followed by an assurance of my actual age. My overwhelming reaction was that I was being cheated. I wasn’t 24. I was 30. I had 6 years on my 24-year-old self. My 24-year-old self who swallowed 28 times the recommended dosage of Ambien in a suicide attempt that should have killed her. My 24-year-old self who was unconscious while a doctor was informing my mom he had no idea why I was still alive. That was 24-year-old me.
When I think about aging, which, as a newly 31-year-old woman, I am keenly aware I should be protesting and dreading, I can really only think of how I am not seeing the issue. I would never want to be my former self. I would never want to be that young again. I’ve had to go through so much to get to here and here is still very confusing and overwhelming the vast majority of the time.
It’s not as if I consider my mental health issues all firmly tucked behind me. Because it’s pretty apparent that they’re not. I am still struggling with my bipolar disorder and will most likely continue to do so in the future.
But right now…
I have a smattering of grey hairs. I notice crinkles in the corners of my eyes. I see my body changing in ways I’m told are unattractive. And I don’t care.
I earned my grey hairs. I earned my crinkles. I earned my pudgy middle section. And honestly? No part of aging has so far convinced me that I would have been better off dying at 24 and leaving a thinner, less wrinkled corpse.
Everyone tells me I’m going to hit a wall with aging and once I’m there I’ll pine for the days I was too young to get a cocktail at a bar and I’ll turn 29 for the 4th time in a row. I don’t believe it.
Every year I’m still alive is one more, “Fuck you.” to the disease that is trying to kill me. As long as I’m alive, I’m aging. I don’t care how it happens.
I’m here. I’m surviving. I made it this far.