Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life – it has given me me . It has provided time and experience and failures and triumphs and time-tested friends who have helped me step into the shape that was waiting for me. I fit into me now. I have an organic life, finally, not necessarily the one people imagined for me, or tried to get me to have. I have the life I longed for. I have become the woman I hardly dared imagine I would be.Anne Lamott
I don’t think our inside selves have an age.
I think right there, in my chest, where the actual me, my spirit, seems to sit, is ageless.
Maybe I’m sprouting more and more grey hair these days, and maybe I’m even tempted to Google ‘fillers’ for that crease between my brows, and I’m definitely seeing my mother’s hands when I look at my own. But my inside self is still just… me.
The ancient book of Job says that, “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.”
Each day there is new wisdom waiting for us.
Every day, the inner us becomes wiser and more mature.
Recently I did a journal exercise where I had to write a letter to myself from me, at eighty.
I imagined her, me, then. Eighty. The lines of my life etched into my face, a long silvery braid trailing down my back. I’m classy, eighty year old me, I’m wearing sneakers, a worn grey t-shirt and jeans. I’m carrying some loose skin, and a heart full of wisdom.
What would eighty year old me tell 35 year old me?
She’d tell me that the things that are big now, won’t be so big one day, aren’t as large and looming and urgent as they feel, in the grand scheme of things.
She’d tell me that there’s too much life to live to spend it worrying about things that aren’t important: what people think of me, what caption I’ll write on my Instagram post, who didn’t put their used glass in the sink.
I think eighty year old me, with the majority of my life behind her, would tell me to be kind to myself, not to worry so much about making it perfect rather than just giving it a go.
Eighty year old Em would definitely chuckle and tell 35 year old me not to take herself so seriously.
And she’d tell me to take down the walls that I’ve erected as a response to hurt, reminding me that people will always let us down, but to stay soft anyway. That friendships are worth investing into, that community isn’t built in an hour a week, and that when invited over, no one is seeking out the corners you haven’t wiped free of dust.
What would your eighty year old self tell you?
What future wisdom could she whisper back to you in this moment?
I’m sure she’ll know some things, eighty year old you.
She’d have seen some prayers answered, she’d have walked faithfully with God, she’ll have known sorrows and trials and yet have a strength in her old bones.
“Do these things more often my love,” she’d say to us urgently, “Jump in the ocean. Fill a car with friends and steal away for the weekend. Eat the sugar, sometimes. Don’t rush bedtimes, climb in and breathe in their smallness, they’ll one day be bigger than you are.”
So today, I’m living the way that eighty year old woman I’ll be one day, will be proud of. I’m praying that she’ll look back with no regrets, knowing that she loved hard and worked harder, and left a legacy of faith behind her.
And while I might still be colouring my greys today, one day I’ll let the silver sparkle.