Oh, you guys. YOU GUYS. This is not as easy as I am making it look.
Actually, that's not true. Turning 50 is easy. Handling the emotions that come along with it? That's another thing entirely.
I'm going through all the stages of grief - denial, annoyance, pizza, claustrophobia, anger at Trump supporters, tequila and baking - at the same time. This is bullshit, you guys.
I'm grateful to friends who have let me cry/weep/have a level four nervous breakdown with them over the past week or so. The tears are right near the surface these days, and I am powerless to hold them back. I've stopped trying.
Not panicking. It's out there. It's gonna happen whether I want it to or not (Lord willing.) I am not going quietly into that AARP-festooned hootenanny of middle age, but as God is my witness, if one more person tells me that age is a number, I will not be held responsible for my actions. I. Will. Cut. You.
See, over the past few years, I've seen myself change, and not for the better. I have never felt pretty. Ever. Except for about two days back when I was about 19, I have not felt like I had my looks going for me. It's not easy to be a girl and not be happy with the person looking back in the mirror. I joke that my awkward stage lasted until last week, but really ... I'm not joking. (Although that is entirely why I developed a sense of humor.)
Anyhoo, over the past year or so, I've seen myself becoming less pretty, and when you start out not very pretty to begin with, it feels like a tragedy. If the mirror tells the truth, I will never be as pretty as I was yesterday.
It's downhill from here, and it's breaking my own heart.
Yes, there are lots of things I can do now that I didn't do 10 years ago. I like myself - the whole of me - more than I ever have. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'd like to have the self-love I have now, and the body and face I had 20 years ago.
That's not how it works.
And no matter how many times I remind myself of amazingly beautiful women who are my age or older, the truth is I am not Helen Mirren. I'm not Diane Lane. I'm sure as hell not Angela Bassett (who has obviously made a deal with the devil himself.) So I'm just doing what I do, and moisturizing regularly, and hoping maybe nobody notices that I've hit this milestone.
So I'm trying to look at it like that picture - clearly, rockin' it into a new decade.
It helps that I have amazing examples of women who got there before me. My strong sister Jenn, who leaped (probably literally) into her 50s when chemo was an all-too-close memory, and two other sisters who paved the way (and proved that wrinkles are not, in fact, a foregone conclusion.) And my besties from Lifetime who have welcomed me to this exclusive tribe with open arms. As Donna said last night while I was trying desperately not to collapse into a pile of self-pity in yoga class, "Welcome to the club. We've been waiting for you." And I'll be damned if she doesn't make it look so beautiful and graceful, it seems like a place I might want to be.
Guys, this isn't an easy one for me. I'm probably not done crying, and I don't know what it's gonna look like as I move through it. Bear with me. (Do not bare with me, however. Gravity has arrived, my friends, and it is an unforgiving whore.) I have a lot of good stuff coming up during the coming year, and my 50th Anniversary Tour is going to be epic.
Even if I'm wrinkly. Even if I'm not as pretty as I dreamed I'd be. Even if I never run a 10-minute mile, finish a tri in less than two hours, fit into my skinny jeans, have a thick head of hair or leave the house without under-eye concealer. Because here's the thing:
I am still here. I am still dancing, and laughing, and cooking amazing food (you should see the pasta salad I just made!) and still being a damn good friend to those I love. I'm still here, guys. And my face may have aged, but I have not yet grown up.
Second star on the right, my friends. And straight on 'til morning.