I went into a beauty supply store recently to pick up a facial serum. I knew exactly what I wanted as I had just finished using a sample and really liked it. So, I headed directly to that section of the store. Before I got there, however, a young sales clerk caught me and offered her assistance. I thought, “Why not. Maybe there’s something new I should know about.”
When I told her what I was there for, she looked at me with a mixture of shock and confusion. She hesitated and then I asked if she had any information about the product or perhaps another similar product. The more I chattered away trying to engage her, the more she stumbled and kept looking at me like she didn’t know what to do with such an antique.
I finally thanked her for her “assistance,” and headed directly to a mirror. I thought for sure I would find my face replaced with that of a monkey, my hair standing on end or lipstick smeared up the side of my face – something to account for her odd reaction. The mirror replied. Nope, just me.
Maybe the young clerk just wasn’t used to dealing with an older woman in a beauty supply store. Because after all, why would a woman my age be interested in caring for her skin or using makeup. It’s too late. The wrinkles have won! Mind you, this wasn’t my first pony ride to the make-up counter. Been there, done that many times before with very happy experiences and outcomes.
I paid for my serum (knowing, of course, that it would do me no good – ha ha), and left the store. I immediately called a friend and told her what happened and how for the first time, I truly felt like the oldest woman on the planet. She replied that she had had a very similar experience that same day. We laughed, and felt a little relieved that at least we’re not alone in our old age or insecurities.
Funny how a silly little interaction like that could have such a piercing effect on my psyche. Though it was only momentary, the effect still surprised me. Maybe I was feeling a little more sensitive that day – I don’t know or remember. But it made me realize how tender one’s sense of self can be.
Yes, I know I’m old enough to know better and to be above what others may think of me. The thing is, I think as we live and explore and risk, we will have times of different vulnerabilities throughout our entire lives. At least as long as we keep trying and learning and stumbling.
To be in a constant state of calm self-assuredness is to be, in my opinion, a little delusional, or just not trying very hard. We are human beings, after all, with many frailties and insecurities. In that, we are more alike than not, I’m convinced.
I’ll admit that hitting 60 was a tough one for me. I sailed through 50, still feeling like I had it all together, I was still “in it.” Sixty signaled a huge shift in life for me. Although nothing else had changed, just the number. It took me a while to recalibrate, and to know deep within me that being 60+ means I have arrived at the “me” that I was always meant to be. Don’t quote me, Maya Angelou deserves the credit for that thought.
I truly am happier now than I’ve ever been in my life, especially because I like who I am. In fact, if I wasn’t me, I’d want to be friends with me. I can be a kick sometimes. Just ask my hubby.
So what does all this mean? Well, this seemingly innocuous episode reminded me how our self-esteem or sense of self is a dynamic thing. Ever changing, no matter our age or life situation.
Life is always going to throw us a curve now and again. We needn’t be hard on ourselves if we let it get the better of us momentarily. Most likely, because of our age and experience, we’ll bounce back and probably get a good laugh out of it.
That’s the lesson I got from this. And after all, as the oldest woman on the planet, I’m very wise.
How about you? Any similar experiences or feelings?
Till next time,