I turned 28 on the weekend. I’ve never minded getting older. I guess I’ve always felt old beyond my years anyway. An old soul.
When I was a kid, I preferred sitting at the adults table catching up on the daily gossip rather than running around with kids my age.
When I was 18 I went clubbing a few times but it really wasn’t my thing. I made the swift transition towards low-lit, quiet cocktail bars, and later wine bars, before I hit 20.
I gave up on music festivals and even my favourite ‘youth’ radio station not even realising I’d happily replaced them with weekends in wine country and a constant soundtrack of The Beatles and The Bee Gees in the background.
But it’s never bothered me. I’ve never shied away from announcing my birthday or my age, however, I’ve noticed a few things in the last few years though that have surprised this cool-about-aging-laid-back-chick (Ha! Yeah right!).
First I noticed a few wrinkles around my eyes. I blamed the stress of the renovation I was doing with my partner. I loved it (help me convince him to enter The Block, please?!!) but it was stressful – working full time, project managing the reno, making very adult decisions like the layout of your future kitchen (how I was qualified for that I don’t know! I’d only ever cooked in one kitchen my entire life), and getting very very hands on with demolishing and sanding and painting and rebuilding.
And so that was that. I had wrinkles.
It was all surprisingly confronting for someone who reveled in the gaining of wisdom and experience that each year brought, and it bothered me in a way that I hadn’t expected.
It was made worse when earlier this year I found myself in a social media black hole, sucked deep into the depths of my old Facebook albums, reminiscing on all the crazy times I’d had with friends over the years when suddenly it stopped being a fun trip down memory lane and turned into a horrific realisation that wow – my skin does not look like that anymore! Without makeup, after big nights out – my skin was glowy and fresh, no wrinkles, no effort, no need for three face oils and a serum before bed to stave off the ever worsening dryness that only make my lines worse.
Overcome, I booked myself in for a facial – my first ever – stat. It was everything I hoped it to be and more but I’m lazy so I haven’t been back, instead opting to gather as much intel on anti-aging for twenty-somethings off the Internet and applying it, quite literally, to my enlarging pores.
But it’s not just the skin on my face that I noticed was changing.
My black high waisted skinny jeans defined my early-to-mid twenties. They were like an extension of my skin. I bought my first pair of Nobodies when I was around twenty and wore those jeans for days on end, week after week for at least five years. At $200 bucks a pop, they were an investment piece for a pretty-much-unemployed uni student but boy I did get a hefty return on investment on those bad boys.
But while I’ve always felt comfortable with my body, there’s nothing like hitting the wrong side of twenty five and suddenly dreading the thought of wrestling on that same pair of black high waisted skinny jeans that you used to adore, to lead you into a dark place.
These days, it takes a lot of convincing to get me into my old-faithfuls. As much as I still love them, they’re only so good to me when I can barely sit or eat in them.
For months I’ve absentmindedly put it down to carrying an extra few extra kilos. Once I shift those kilos I’ll be back rocking my skinnies.
But that’s not right.
This doesn’t have anything to do with my weight. I’m not fat. I’m not carrying a few too many kilos. I’m fine just the way I am. What’s not fine are my jeans.
I’m getting older, my body is changing and there is no longer anything remotely pleasant about having a tight, constricting piece of denim wrapped suffocatingly around my mid-section while my slowing-by-the-day metabolism tries desperately to digest my lunch (probably a salad because Old! Slow metabolism!).
Reassuringly, I’m not alone! While my boyfriend looks at me like I’m crazy for popping my top button after a meal, my girlfriends laugh along with me and pop theirs too.
So, am I ready to replace my jeans yet?
No, not quite.
I rarely wear them but I still like knowing they’re there, a connection to my younger, firmer-skinned, carefree self. A self who traipsed across the globe by myself on exchange when I was twenty. Who danced all night with my girlfriends while drinking vodka red bulls (shudder!!). A self who ran around my uni campus with big dreams on her shoulders – not knowing exactly what she wanted but knowing that it would be great.
More than skin and weight and jeans, growing up can be scary because it means saying goodbye to all those times, hazy with the ever-rosy glow of nostalgia, when everything seemed freer and easier.
Of course it wasn’t all easy even then, and I am still that girl. I can still dance all night with my girlfriends, only I’ll be drinking wine and it’ll take me a week to recover. I still have big dreams, only now I know that dreams aren’t always enough but you have to keep pushing and working for them anyway.
After all that, who cares about a number or some lines on my face. I cant go back and relive my early twenties but I’m growing up and it feels good. 27 was a year when I took a whole new scary step in this world. It may not have included a solo journey halfway around the world to discover myself but I can tell you that I’m discovering a whole lot more about myself chasing the career of my dreams than I ever did chugging cheap American beer in the US. So thank you 27, you were good to me. Here’s to 28.