I was talking to a friend recently about whether or not Botox was the way forward as we enter our 40s. It’s a tough decision and one I’m still weighing. During the course of the conversation, I complained about a furrow forming between my eyebrows that makes me look angry — and who wants to look angry?
Then the conversation devolved into a complain-fest of body part comparisons. What are we doing, we wondered?
At almost 40, we were bitching about the same crap we’ve spent our entire lives bitching about: our appearances.
It got me to wondering if there shouldn’t be some kind of unwritten cut-off age for these kinds of complaints? For kicks, I posed the question on my Facebook page and got a wide variety of responses from women and men — and I agree with most of them.
Here are seven in particular I think you should check out:
1. Your age.
We all get old. Did you know this? It’s true! It’s happening right now! And there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it, sadly.
Whining about getting old is, perhaps, the most futile of all complaining. Besides, getting old is actually awesome, most of the time. You’re smarter, wiser, more comfortable in your own skin, hopefully, even if that skin is thinning and getting age spots. You could not pay me enough money to relive any year of my 20s.
2. Your appearance, especially the stuff you CAN change.
My friend Anna Selden advises:
“People should quit complaining about any situation over which they have control yet they refuse to make a move to make a change happen.”
If you don’t like something, change it. If you aren’t going to change it, accept it. As Kevin Parks says,
“Embrace your lines. Embrace your age, embrace your wisdom. They all are beautiful and they are earned.”
Celebrate you, already.
3. Your weight.
Here’s the thing: I’ve reached a point in my life where I know the drill. If I get too heavy it makes me unhappy. Instead of bitching about it, I do what needs to be done to hit my desired weight. Other times, all the delicious foods make me happier than the size of my ass so I allow myself to venture into hedonistic territory knowing that when my weight starts to bother me I’ll kick back into healthy, exercise mode. It’s all a balance. As Ben Child astutely notes on Facebook,
“Either change it if you hate it or accept it. We all struggle with maintaining a good balance, but talking about it just tells me you have no desire to change.”
4. Other women.
I spent a lot of time in my 20s thinking and saying negative things about women. Those insecurities led me to a bad place. As someone who has maintained a personal blog now for ten years I’ve experienced more negative comments directed back at me than I care to remember, and I can tell you with utter certainty, I realize now that talking negatively about others only diminishes yourself. As Josette Crosby Plank wisely commented,
“Stop complaining about women who are still ‘mean girls.’ By 35, you should be able to either shun them, laugh at them or be able to flip them the bird without spilling your gin and tonic.”
Right?! We start dealing with this nonsense as early as ten. Do you really want to be comparing and complaining at 40? It’s emotionally exhausting for all of us. Pour yourself a glass of wine and move the eff on already.
I no longer view a man who isn’t into me as a challenge. If a man isn’t into me for whatever reason I’m not into him. Why waste a single second wondering why? He’s not into it. Immediately move on until you find that natural mutual attraction with someone that blows your mind. Falling in love just happens. Two people dig each other and that’s that. If you have to chase someone and play games it probably isn’t worth it in the end. If there’s one thing I wish I could’ve made the 20-year-old me understand, it would be that concept. If someone isn’t into you, why would you be into them? Move. On.
6. What other people think.
This year I’ve thought a lot about not caring what other people think about me. Below is an excerpt from a personal blog I wrote a few months back:
“Let yourself let go. Everyone you’re so afraid of judging you is just as worried about being judged. You got a thing for nose rings but you’re not sure if they’re tacky for 42? Screw it, get a nose ring. Like wearing a crapload of eye make-up because it makes you feel powerful? Pile that s**t on, yo. Completely over high-heel shoes because what the effing eff, who made those things, a dude? Stop wearing ’em. Only like to wear the color black? Get it on, sister. Love short skirts but feel like you’ve maybe reached a certain age where you might be too old for ’em? A ‘certain age’ my ass. Put that itty bitty skirt on and rock it out. Anyone that judges is locked in their own cage of self-judgment and you should care not for their two cents. What do you care about what they think, anyway?”
In “My Way,” one of Sinatra’s most famous songs, he famously opined, “Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.” It’s a lyric that has always meant a lot to me. I try to live my life in a very deliberate way. I make decisions based on what I know and feel at that moment. Sometimes they turn out to be the wrong choices but I don’t regret them because I know I was making the best decision I could in that moment. Live your life in a way that you know you’re doing the best you can in that moment, making regret a moot point. Life is one big learning process. We all make bad decisions but that’s not the important part. It’s what we learn from the bad decisions that we should focus on. As my beautiful friend Mimi Owen says,
“Would haves, should haves, could haves, just be thankful for the life you have lead so far … It only gets better when you DO NOT complain about where you should be in life.”
It’s worth noting that, as DeLayne Dalton Landis points out, complaining about the right things can be empowering.
“For me it’s the opposite. Younger me took a lot of crap & didn’t have the guts to complain. Didn’t want to make anyone mad. Older me is tired of being walked on. So maybe it’s time I complain …. a little.”
In the end I think badass Aela H. Mass nails it in a nutshell.
“Stop complaining about your shortcomings. You’re 35 and 100% capable of being the person you want to be. Do it, ladies. Be it. Or STFU.”
That is, unless you want to subscribe to the theory that age earns you the right to complain. In which case I will leave you with what Heather Haze told me.
“I reserve the right to complain about anything I feel like, at any time. Or not. I can’t be bothered to care about what anybody else feels I “should” do, or “should” be. That’s one of the benefits of getting older, I guess.”