The day I felt like the oldest woman on the planet.

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,

Judy

12 Comments

  1. Bobbi
    February 21, 2017 / 8:29 am

    My “moment” was when the clerk at Taco Bell handed me change for the burrito I had just purchased with “exact change” – told me he had given me the SENIOR DISCOUNT. Went home – looked up their policy and found that I was a few years off !!!!!

    I did NOT go back and give him the change!

    • Judy McLane
      February 22, 2017 / 7:12 am

      Too funny, Bobbi. Glad you kept the change. haha.

  2. Laurel Tucker
    February 21, 2017 / 12:25 pm

    Or perhaps, dear Judy, it was that the clerk couldn’t believe that someone as young as you could possibly want a product made for an older woman! Do not ever, ever change, you charming creature!

    • Judy McLane
      February 22, 2017 / 7:11 am

      Dearest – you’re too sweet!

  3. Candy
    February 21, 2017 / 1:28 pm

    I must admit I’ve had many similar experiences. I file them under Cognitive Dissonance. You know that brief period when the brain is jarred by two conflicting thoughts or beliefs. These experiences usually happen when I least expect it. Like the time a few years ago when I was chatting and laughing it up with a group of younger women. Of course I thought of myself as one of them because that was how I felt. Suddenly one of them said, “I would love to fix you up with my… fill in the blank. My first thoughts were brother, cousin, friend. And then she said… FATHER. My first thought was, “why in the world would I want to date with her father?” In a second the brain recalibrated and I was left with the realization that I may have thought that I was a peer but that is not the way I was seen. Her father and I have been happily married now for some time now. (That’s a joke!!)

    • Judy McLane
      February 22, 2017 / 7:10 am

      OMG – you made me laugh out loud, Candy. The best part of these experiences are the laughs we can share. Thanks for sharing yours!

  4. dona
    February 21, 2017 / 8:27 pm

    What a great message Judy! I had to read it about three times. There was so much to absorb! Working in retail and being around women all day, I will always go out of my way to compliment the older women that take the time to primp or not. I see how they can be treated and ignored, but I know they are a pillar of wisdom and knowledge. It’s a privilege to be around the elderly. I celebrated a friends 100th birthday last weekend. How amazing is that! What stood out to me in your message today was how you spoke about our self esteem, or sense of self and how you were happy with your life and would want to be your friend if you weren’t you. I love that!

    • Judy McLane
      February 22, 2017 / 7:09 am

      Thank you, Dona. I agree with you and think it’s so important to support and encourage other women — of all ages, actually — but especially mid-lifers.

  5. June Day
    February 22, 2017 / 9:06 am

    I had an experience at the local supermarket. This time, it wasn’t the clerk bagging my groceries who called me “Ma’am”, it was a couple of cute fireman lingering too long over their choice of which brand of bread to buy. I finally said “excuse’ me, I”m just gonna grab this ” and the cursory ” oh yes, excuse me, Ma’am”. Of course, my fragile sensibilities are shaken whenever someone addresses me Ma’am so I responded, “I’ll tell you what – I forgive you if you promise not to call me Ma’am”. They both shot each other a telling glance (which made me regret immediately making it all about me..) and one said “should we?” and the other cutie said “‘Oh yeah!”. They kissed me simultaneously on my cheek, handed me an official Junior Fireman Badge and told me to come by the station anytime! Now here’s where I can’t let a good thing be – I told them “sure! I’d love to bring my grandkids!”

    • Judy McLane
      February 23, 2017 / 9:32 am

      Oh no! That is so funny, June. Hey, at least you got a couple of kisses from cute fireman, so it can’t be all that bad. haha

  6. Lea
    September 12, 2017 / 8:15 am

    Oh my! I know this is an old posting and when I read it a while back, I filed it under “Not me”. Hah! I went to the cinema with a friend a few weeks ago (at the old Montreal Forum, the best place for “my kind” of movies) and because we were chatting, it was only when we walked away that I realized the clerk had given me the seniors discount! I’m 63 and their policy is 65. It stunned me for a second, then I roared with laughter because what could I do? Make a stink over 2 years??? My friend, who will be 50 soon, was incensed! lol
    I kept the money and loved the movie, The Big Sick.

    • Judy McLane
      September 19, 2017 / 12:50 am

      Lea, this is too funny. I applaud your reaction. It gave me a chuckle. Kept the money and loved the movie! Perfect. By the way, I loved that movie, too.

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