For the most part, I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin. I realized about ten years ago that agonizing over wrinkles and cellulite and stretch marks is a giant waste of time. My friends are beautiful women, and all of us are marked by the passing years. I hated the thought of them sitting around feeling fat or ugly.

And then I decided to extend the same grace to myself. It was life-changing.

But now that I’ve rounded the corner to my late-late, very-late, advanced thirties, some issues have crept out of a dark hole and grabbed me by the ears. Issues such as:

#1. I need a ridiculously small amount of food each day. I should eat half of what I did fifteen years ago, but my appetite hasn’t gotten the news yet. Consider this scene, which repeats itself in my kitchen hourly:

My Metabolism: “Oh, dear. Is it time to eat again? I’ll have a thimble of unsweetened tea and a dry crust of bread, thanks. That’s all I have room for today.”
My Appetite: “What’s wrong with you, you weirdo? I’ll have 29 cookies, a keg of Pepsi, and a side of Cheetos.”
My Metabolism: “Oh, dear. Ohhhhh, dearie dear.”
My Pants: “Egads! Someone find the elastic waisted trousers we keep in the back of the closet! This is never going to work.”

#2: I need a ridiculously large amount of makeup to look natural. And by natural, I mean alive. Seriously. If you show up at my door right now you’ll find me with zero makeup. You will automatically reach out a hand to steady me and you’ll worry I have some deadly disease. Because I look like a corpse.

#3. No matter how much work I put into myself now, the best I can hope for is “She looks pretty good…for her age.” If I launched a full-scale renovation project on myself today, it’s not going to make much difference. I could lose twenty pounds, tone up all the muscles, and employ a team of plastic surgeons. Twenty years ago I could have been a glamour queen. But now I would only look like a pathetic woman who is trying to reverse time– and losing.

These ideas have been poking at my subconscious for a few weeks now, and at first they were uncomfortable. I found myself in the polyester section of Sears last week, mentally calculating how long I had before I owned shiny pants and tent-sized sweatshirts with pictures of my grandchildren on them.

And then I snapped out of it. I know plenty, and I mean lots and lots, of women older than me and they’re amazing. They’re kind and fun and prayerful. They think a lot and work hard and I am blessed to know them. Aging gracefully has nothing to do with fooling people into thinking I’m still twenty.

But I think it has a lot to do with getting over myself, caring for the people around me, and enjoying the life God has given.

(Although I admit I’m still quite concerned with Ms. Appetite and her relentless demand for cookies. That’s a real problem.)

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. (Proverbs 31:30)


8 Comments on The Truth About Being Almost 40

  1. Sally Shupe
    October 16, 2015 at 10:44 am (2 years ago)

    Absolutely love this post! No matter what you write about I get a chuckle. Thank you for that. You can go far once you accept you for who you are. Took me many years to get to that place!

  2. Jessie Clemence
    October 16, 2015 at 10:46 am (2 years ago)

    Thanks, Sally! Since I can’t figure out what exactly I blog about, I try to go for a variety of ridiculousness. 🙂

    And I’m glad you’ve decided to accept who you are, too! (whom you are? My grammar is awful without an editor…)

  3. Luanne
    October 16, 2015 at 12:22 pm (2 years ago)

    “Elastic waistband trousers, polyester and sweatshirts with grandchildren on them”…I literally laugh out loud every time I read your blog. You always put a bit of humor and sunshine into my day and I look forward to reading what you write!
    It’s funny you write this because I have been having some of the very same thoughts lately (although I categorically refuse to ever wear polyester…I guess we all have a line somewhere!).

  4. cherifields
    October 16, 2015 at 1:03 pm (2 years ago)

    “Whom” matches “me” it’s if you’re asking about the object, so “who you are” is correct. Of course, I only figured that out when my German teacher had to explain two separate objective forms to me…
    As I said in my book review: you survive every email purge because I know when I pull up your post, I’m going to laugh. My 40th birthday is next month and it’s nice to have someone else putting these thoughts into words.
    Our society is particularly dreadful at helping women feel beautiful. How many of us as scrawny, fresh faced (even if a little spotty) teens actually felt pretty? And it only gets worse from there if we look to the world for affirmation.
    But, I’ve been happy with myself since finding a man who thinks I’m stellar, and, there’s always God’s clear statement that he cares far more about my inner character than he does any outward ideal.
    Someday, I’m going to have a grandkids sweatshirt, but I’ll probably take out the bottom hem and cover it in rhinestones. It’s amazing how freeing it is to wear clothes that are works of art no matter the shape wearing them. 🙂

  5. Gleniece
    October 16, 2015 at 4:45 pm (2 years ago)

    “Aging gracefully has nothing to do with fooling people into thinking I’m still twenty.” Love that. Thanks for an enjoyable read.
    Love to you from Arizona .

    October 16, 2015 at 5:32 pm (2 years ago)

    Why should you need less food now that your near 40 as opposed to mid 20’s? You weren’t growing then and you may be more active now. Well, when you aren’t napping that is.

  7. tammy @
    October 17, 2015 at 8:14 am (2 years ago)

    I love this post…I am creeping closer to 40 and admit, I have had similar thoughts. Thanks for your humorous reflections on aging. We really do need to extend grace to ourselves.

  8. Jessie Clemence
    October 17, 2015 at 12:59 pm (2 years ago)

    I don’t know why, but my metabolism is tanking fast.