Am I The Only One Who Can’t Decide How To Get Old?
I’m here to admit that I want the natural aging process and the benefits of modern medical aesthetics in the same lifetime.
Text by Valerie Dayan
A couple of weeks ago my therapist confirmed what I already sort of knew but did not know how to phrase.
“You are not one for limits.” she said. “The thought of being limited and confined to one persona, one possibility, one place drags you down. You want to be able to have it all.”
A mental epiphany that yields a moment of relief that debunks so much of my previous distress and confusion. This -let’s call it “wonderflaw” within the context- wonderflaw of mine, is not to be mistaken for indecisiveness, for I am very stern in my opinions and tastes. But at times they tend to be contradictory, and to co-exist within this cabinet of curiosities called Valerie. I’m not talking about trivial things here, it’s things like permanent location (why do I have to be based in one spot?), social life (can I both be a social butterfly and a recluse?), language (my brain is split in half between English and Turkish), and the way I will age. Can I possibly be the all-natural Valerie, and Valerie with a Few Successful Tweaks in the same lifetime?
I also stand firm against the limits of mortality; I mostly love being here and want to stick around as long as possible, with the healthiest potential both in my body and spirit. But how do I want to age physically, which version of myself I decide to go with as I grow older, I am currently unable to pick. And honestly, I find it to be too much pressure on a contemporary individual to make up her mind about the aging process, especially when the 30s hit. The time to decide is now and the grace period for indecisiveness, negligence and hopes for a magic anti aging pill has ended. I am 33, and each day I don’t get my preventative botox is worth 10 years and 1 line on my very expressive forehead. At this very point, whatever I choose, there’s also the risk of inner and outer chatter. That’s perhaps the least important outcome, but it’s a possibility I need to consider nevertheless. I can’t promise myself I won’t regret minor medical aesthetics if I decide not to get it, and I’m sure no one will hold back from commenting on my physical journey whatever it is that I decide to do. “Look at how quickly her skin gave up on her!” or “Oh no, she should have stayed true to her natural self like she used to, instead of getting all these fillers!”
Well, I have two very viable options.
On one side, there’s letting it all go, and aging naturally. Frankly, I’m mostly curious (yet a little scared) about what my body will turn into as I continue to stay alive. I want to watch the expression lines deepen on my face, my skin transform with wrinkles, and get the dark spots on my hands like my grandpa Davut did. I want to know if I can grow older as poetically as grandma Yıldız did, or if I’ll get as many wrinkles on my face like my angelic late grandma Vicky. My parents both look great without any work done today in their 50s and 60s, so it’s interesting to see who I will actually take after. It’s so intriguing to let go, to really let go; just do my best when it comes to living healthy and taking care of my skin, and let life show me the limits of my physical existence. When I’m wrapped up in thoughts of anti-aging, I often find this question dancing around in my head: Is there not beauty in staying alive? The passing of time can be terrifying on an everyday basis, and the beauty world tries to help us mortals soothe the existential scaries by selling us an ideal of age reversal. Which helps, mostly, but it’s not for everyone. In the early 30s where thoughts of mortality and aging hit hard but come with a side of optimism and healthy collagen formation, it’s relatively easy to be happy in one’s own skin. But whether I will possess this kind of self-love and confidence in the future, is the unknown that takes me to the second option.
I’ll be frank here – the thought of getting great work done massively excites me. Seeing my “hotter” version with social media filters excites me. I have been working in the beauty industry for too long and I see through it all, but I am human and susceptible to complex and centuries old marketing plays just like anyone else is. The more I work on myself mentally, the more aware I become of how often I let my shallowness take over and feel less and less guilt about it. It’s amazing how that guilt evaporates the older one gets. Years after we’ve been gone, this era of beauty will be known for the democratization and prevalence of medical aesthetics and plastic surgery. In this new era, the gravity of physical change has been lifted and there’s an air of ease that follows the thoughts of big or little aesthetic tweaks. Nowadays, I have these thoughts more often than before. I look at new, thin lines on my face that weren’t previously there; I realize how much more sleep affects the way my face looks; I tend to observe my peers’ faces more closely; I get a little jealous of tight foreheads and lifted eyes or maybe just jealous of the way they have decided to take charge of the aging process, while I’m merely floating in a sea of uncertainty. My sexy, exhilarating second option is right there in front of me: plan ahead, take action and start to get some work done. No one else will be responsible for the guilt of letting go if I end up unhappy with the way my face will naturally age.
And that brings me to the question: Am I the only one who can’t decide how to get old? Or are there others just like me, that can’t make up their mind about the contemporary aging path they are supposed to take? If there are, do write to me, let’s form the Wonderflaw Club of Confused Individuals. The uncertainty of the future of my face is real, and I promise myself nothing; I have no stance on any grounds but merely a rebellion against the limits of time that pushes me to make timely choices. I want it all, I want the natural and the unnatural, I want Valerie the Original and Valerie 2.0. At the end of the day, it’s the feeling of being happy in my own skin that I’m chasing, and instead of focusing on how I’m going to age, I hope to come to sustainable terms with the passing of time, and the fragile link between how I look and how I feel. But I’m also never losing hope on that magic pill.