About the fear of getting old(er).
It was a sunny afternoon when I started crying over a doll. I had it all planned out - and I knew how the future will unfold. I was a good girl for a week and begged my mom to buy me a Barbie. It was new on the market in Romania and everyone wanted one. It was the absolute dream - the “Barbie and Ken” package.
So after days of hearing me talk about a new doll, my mom took me to the toys shop in our neighborhood. She wanted to see this new doll and after checking the price, we stormed out of the shop. She was upset for a reason I didn’t understand and I was upset because she made it clear I will never get one. “But she’s so thin and with long hair and with lipstick and fancy clothes”, I said in desperation. “Exactly, that’s why you’ll never get one. I won’t encourage you to think that’s the only way to be happy - being perfect”, she said in an angry voice. And my mom was rarely screaming at anyone, but in that moment I discovered a new side of her.
We arrived home and she made me some pudding and promised me I will get a doll soon. Three weeks later, my dad returned from a trip with a “normal” doll - it had short blonde hair, a very dull dress (I thought), plus its body was the opposite of the one a supermodel should have. I told my mom I don’t want the doll and she responded that I should at least try to like it, as a favor to my father. “He searched for one for a couple of days and he will be sad if you will just toss it aside.” So I put the doll on my desk and after a couple of days I started to like playing with her.
The trick my parents pull was - now that I think about it - very smart. I had short hair until I was 12 years old. And while my mother was absolutely gorgeous with a goddess’ body, I took my father’s body type. And if I’m not careful with what I eat, I quickly gain weight. And that’s one thing I heard growing up - from neighbors, from uncles, from friends of my parents “hahaha, you’re exactly like your dad. You’ll see after you’ll get married and have children, your body won’t look the same as your mom’s.” And I always had the same response “that’s not true, I look like my mother and will always look like her” staring at anyone with a determination that I was hoping will become a reality. And laughter would follow around me and everyone patted me on the shoulders with kindness and love. And I was just angry because they didn’t understand what I was saying. Oooh, but they all did - and they were trying to make my life’s journey easier.
Because this need of perfection follows you all your life if you don’t learn to let go. If you’re 16 and your boobs are too small, you’re not a real girl. If you cut your hair short when in your 20s, you’re not feminine enough. Cellulite is the worst enemy of the summer body and if you’re wearing brackets in your early 30s you won’t find a boyfriend - that’s a couple of sentences I heard...and while it did shatter my self confidence for an amount of time, I kept wondering if the critics I heard in my group of friends were out of jealousy or just meaningless words...meant as a (mean) joke.
But luckily for me, I’ve always had the support of my parents. When I gained 12+ kilos in my last year of university, some people looked at me with sadness “you’re not as pretty as you were before” or “eating a lot of fast food, right? Haha.” Losing weight was effortless in the past, but the stress from the last year in uni left its mark on my body. I’ve never felt ugly, but for my height, 12+ kilos more was a burden. I couldn’t tie my shoelaces as easy as before, I was tired from taking the stairs, I had to buy new clothes and every time I was in a dressing room as I was angry for being there. But when I complained to my friends about my weight, some said I should work out - “go for a run, a swim or a walk. Just do something”, but I couldn’t find the courage to start. And then I complained to my parents, and after having a few laughs they said “we love you no matter what, you fluffy girl!” It took me two years to lose weight and remembering what my father kept saying “you should always integrate sport in your life. Dance, run, jump, do whatever makes you happy and see how your body and your mind changes in the process.”
So I did. And I noticed. I noticed how we get so worried for the wrinkles that start showing our age - that we forget to live. We get caught up in trying to fulfill a social norm that is only trendy for a couple of years- and we don’t take chances anymore. We get scared when we have a bad hair day and pray we won’t meet anyone we like - until we’re perfect again.
But the beauty in being an adult is that you can pause it and lower the difficulty at any time. You can decide what’s good for you and your life. When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence gives us the freedom to enjoy ourselves and be in the moment. So why not doing exactly that? Why don’t we return to childhood, to simplicity, to running and climbing. Let’s get back to dancing in the rain and laughing in the sunshine, and enjoying a chocolate ice cream in the middle of the summer.
And while your summer body is already in a party mood, it’s your mind you need to silence - the voice in your head that says you’re not good enough. Because if you’re honest with yourself when you look in the mirror, you will find out that your innocence is still there. Your soul will show everything you've seen so far - while the rest of you is open to whatever you might become. And becoming old(er) is not as bad as it sounds - on the contrary, it can be extraordinary.