For some, aging is simply a natural process. For others, wrinkles are triggers for an existential crisis. We internalize things and one tiny wrinkle makes us question the meaning of life and even how we define happiness. Learning how to accept aging, embrace wrinkles, and be happy with your aging and changing looks is a process. But if you’re someone who tends to obsess about this, it’s important for your mental health to find a healthy coping mechanism.
I want to talk about this because I talk a lot about aging here, all aspects of it! How to prevent it, how to hide it, how to deal with it… And I’m afraid of making people feel bad about their wrinkles.
Even though there’s nothing wrong with trying to smooth out wrinkles with an anti-aging routine and getting Botox injections to feel better, I’m afraid the process might make you forget what’s really important.
And that’s the fact that your skincare is -or it should be- an extension of your self-love and acceptance. And that’s easier said than done.
Time caught up very fast! I’m 36 but does it really matter? Because sometimes, you simply feel old and it doesn’t have anything to do with how old you are. You can feel old even if you’re 29.
I’m insecure. I try to be self-aware and not to put myself down over a new wrinkle. But it’s incredibly easy for me to step into the dark side where I’m constantly criticizing myself and going back and forth between accepting my looks and going for a facelift.
I know the importance of self-awareness in times of crisis. I always do a self-analysis whenever I find myself looking at my own reflection with disgust. It helps me find my triggers so I can focus on what’s really making me unhappy.
Below are things that I remind myself every time I feel bad about aging, wrinkles, getting old, and feeling old. It’s a constant battle but it helps me come back. And I hope it helps you too. Keep reading to find out how to accept aging and embrace wrinkles.
1. Wrinkles are not benchmarks.
I believe the reason why we are so desperately trying to prevent wrinkles is that we simply don’t feel our age. I don’t feel like a 30-something. After all, wrinkles mean you’ve been through things and done things, right?
They represent life, achievements, relationships, events, memories, and so much more. But we feel like we still have so much to look forward to.
Maybe a partner? Kids? A better job? Stability? Dream house? How do I accept aging when I haven’t done any of it! It’s like the package is here but it’s empty!
Looking at your aging face reminds you of the things you still haven’t accomplished and that you may never be able to do so. This unsettling feeling blinds you and makes you forget all that you did accomplish.
As much as it’s hard to admit, we still carry with us those toxic ideas that there are things you’re “supposed to do” at a certain age -the so-called benchmarks. And it makes you feel like you failed. Most of the time, I feel like I failed all of them!
Don’t take this as an excuse to go hard on yourself. Take it as an opportunity to chase those things you want. Your changing looks are a reminder of the gift of life you’ve been blessed with for years! Be grateful, not greedy.
2. Anti-age. But not literally.
I sometimes question my motives with my anti-aging routine. Am I trying to defy the laws of gravity with a retinol serum on one hand and a Botox needle on the other? Is anti-aging even a real, achievable thing?
Or am I playing into this movement of fighting aging so that I can justify my expensive purchases? Did my mom feel this insecure when she was my age? Did grandma?
Are we dealing with something impossible here? How come I’m sometimes on board with aging gracefully and sometimes it feels like I’m just placating myself with that idea so that I don’t go crazy?
It’s OK to feel bad about wrinkles and try to diminish their appearance. Anti-aging means avoiding harmful things that age you prematurely. But it’s not an attempt to challenge the laws of nature.
3. Skincare is an extension of self-care.
Indulging in anti-aging serums and creams doesn’t give you the right to expect your skin to change overnight. It doesn’t justify putting yourself down because that retinol serum didn’t erase those wrinkles.
Your skincare starts with actually caring for your skin from the inside. Just as acceptance is a constituent of love, self-acceptance is a constituent of self-love.
And accepting aging is a healthy sign of self-love. To make things better, you go ahead and do your routine even if it does not change anything!
You wouldn’t buy your toddler cute outfits and doll her up only to tell her how ugly she looks. Or you wouldn’t do her hair, maybe put on a nice hair clip, and then step back and tell her she better pull it off.
Because you care for her as it is. You simply want to pamper her with those outfits. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Similarly, your skincare products are an extension of self-care and self-love, not the other way around.
4. For once, want what you already have.
I have the same nose I had when I was a 20-something. It’s the signature gigantic Turkish nose. Now that it looks droopy at the tip when I smile, I miss my 20-year-old nose, which I also hated at the time.
It’s the same with our skin. We always, always appreciate things when we lose them. We go on and on about our skin and how bad it looks until a couple of years pass and we start to appreciate what we had.
The same thing is going to happen 1 year from now. After all, you’re the youngest you’ll ever be today. You will absolutely miss this skin, these wrinkles and lines, and how you look and feel.
You will lose it. So for once, capture the moment and enjoy things while you can. Accept your age and love how young you are.
5. Be aware of the algorithm.
It’s almost impossible to go against the current and resist peer pressure. When you go through your social feed, you see that everybody is getting injected with something or getting a new type of treatment.
Everybody looks incredibly symmetrical, plump, smooth, teeny-tiny. In case you forgot, your feed is defined by your interests. That’s not the real world. That’s an algorithm in action giving you what you’re looking for.
It does not reflect reality. How many of those people do you see at the mall or at the coffee shop? There’s a new movement where people post real skin with captions like “this is what real skin looks like”. Even those are sometimes retouched!
These people are simply trying to make money. It’s just a job. They take hundreds of pictures and spend hours editing, which is a burden. And it’s difficult. Looking like a doll for the camera is not your job! Let others worry about it.
6. Find a reliable source of happiness.
Not that it’s achievable, but feeling happy has nothing to do with having perfectly smooth, youthful skin. You feel happy when you tie your happiness to something stable, sustainable, and achievable.
When you find it, it simply reflects on your skin too. Smooth skin is not the safest source of happiness. After all, it takes one wrinkle to unsmooth skin.
Nobody reaches Nirvana, finds inner peace, and achieves self-realization once they have wrinkle-free, glowing skin. That’s not a reliable source of endorphin. Change that.
Base your happiness on things like being alive, breathing, having friends and family around. That’s when you start to feel differently and people notice it but can’t put a finger on it.
7. Aging means you’re alive.
Take a few moments to remember all those awkwardness about your life; feeling lonely at a party, how you recognize for a brief second that sex is actually disgusting, how you compare yourself with others, how lonely you feel, how ordinary and boring you think you are.
You’re always inside your head and too worried about how you look and how people see you. These feelings and thoughts are not ordinary. It’s quite the opposite. They’re exciting.
Because it means that you’re capable of recognizing awkwardness and that you’re alive and breathing. Close your eyes for a few seconds and play dead. It’s unbearable. And all those times you felt bored, ordinary, or old become precious.
And you can’t wait to open your eyes and go back and live happily with what you have. Learn to love yourself while life is your reality. Accept aging as it means you are alive.
8. Appreciate the grandeur.
You have literally trillions of cells in your body working with the oxygen you breathe in. They’re working, giving you energy, repairing your wounds, helping you see things, making you appreciate the sound of rain and the smell of grass.
They’re trying desperately to undo the damage you’ve been inflicting on your liver, heart, skin, wherever! You’re an incredibly complex organism with an organ that’s still not fully understood.
An organ that’s able to simulate events before they happen or relive moments that happened years ago. Every single cell in your body works for you and for your well-being.
This decades-old orchestra has been playing the finest tunes. Appreciate the artwork! Don’t confuse process with mistakes. Your wrinkles are not flaws. They’re not the result of things gone wrong. They’re the result of a fascinating process. Don’t insult them.
Learning how to accept aging is going to take an immense weight off your shoulders. You have a full life to live. Don’t burden yourself with impossible tasks. And ignore the expectation that everything has to be perfect. It does not. And that’s more than okay.
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