Thirty-three is hard for me.
It’s hard for someone who was consistently mistaken for a sixteen-year-old in her twenties. One time a pharmacist yelled at me because he thought I was skipping school since the high school was right next door. I was twenty-three. And pregnant. But you know, South Texas, y’all.
And the other day I had to verify my age (who knows for what, exactly. I have a horrible memory. I was most likely just talking to a random street lamp), and I had this stupidly expectant look on my face that read, “Ha! What do you think about that!” But the guy just nodded like thirty-three seemed like a pretty good fit.
You have to understand that up until this point I’ve lived my life like an only child who has been constantly patted on the head. And I don’t mean that to be condescending because it’s not.
Really, it’s nice to be patted, and to be told you have movie star teeth by your dentist, and to be given a gold star by your doctor because you’re in peak physical shape, and to be told by your hairdresser that your hair color is such a pretty shade, and she can’t actually verbalize what color it is because it’s like nothing she’s ever seen before and to be congratulated on the fact that you know how to write words in a way that stumps other people when for you it’s pretty much like scratching a mosquito bite.
What I’m trying to say is that for the longest time I thought I was pretty dang amazing.
And I lived like it. Smug but at the same time self-deprecating because if you play it right, you can make people jealous of you and love you all at the same time. It helps with getting what you want in life.
Now, you see why I need Jesus?
I’m not that person anymore. And apparently my face is following suit. I have lines in the forehead that used to be my thinking lines. They’d pop out whenever I was writing poetry, or think tanking that parallel parking business (cars are the worst), or figuring out why Taylor Hanson hadn’t been nominated president yet. But then they’d subside and my forehead was nice and smooth, the type of forehead you’d imagine would belong to a sixteen-year-old looking twenty-three-year-old pregnant woman getting yelled at in her local neighborhood pharmacy.
But they live on my forehead now even when I’m not thinking and doing things like blankly staring into a void, wondering why I’m talking to a street lamp. I also have smile lines which I find incredibly offensive because I’ve lived most my life trying not to smile for this very reason. All through my childhood my mother would be like “Smile, like your friends do. You look so upset!” And I’d just think, Smile like those hooligans?? I’d like to see what that bad decision does to their faces in thirty years.
My face is thinner now. My teeth yellower, probably. I don’t know. I’m still pretty obsessed with having movie star teeth seeing that I’m the lead in Ericka: The Woman Who’s Hiding Behind Her Pants in the Closet so She Doesn’t Have to Make Dinner. It’s on Lifetime.
But the rest of me has taken that step on a downhill slope. And you know what? I’m really not that mad about it. Don’t get me wrong. For someone who’s struggled with body dysmorphia for most of her life, there was a period where I was glued to the mirror wondering why God was so mad at me and decided to take it out on my face.
But He’s not.
Aging is the consequence of sin, my friends. It’s something that’s going to happen, and in a way, it’s kind of nice when you think about it. It puts into check all those pats on the head, the nice compliments, the pride you take in the color of your hair, the shine in your eyes.
It’s there, for now. But not for long.
So at the end of the day, you have to take a long hard look at yourself, and go beyond the forehead lines and the evidence of past smiles and ask yourself: What do I believe?
Because there are only two choices in this world when you get right down to it.
And you can look sixteen all you want. But it’s never going to change that truth.