Missing: One Middleaged Woman

Did you ever look in a mirror and not recognize yourself? Once, when I was in my early twenties, I looked at my reflection and thought, “Holy shit! I’m a grown-up. I’m a woman.” How on earth had that happened? It caused such a jolt that I still remember it nearly thirty years later.

I’m on the other end of that situation these days. I look in the mirror and wonder, “Who is that woman with the creases under her eyes and the hair that is more white than blonde?” It’s a strange feeling, but even more strange is what I find myself thinking next: “What on earth is going on in her head?” Her head. As though I’m not actually inside the head of the woman I’m seeing in the mirror.

You know how they say it’s impossible to ever fully know another human being? I wonder if we ever really know ourselves, either. The woman I see in the mirror these days seems to have knowledge in her eyes that I, personally, do not have. What does she know that I don’t? And will she ever tell me?

I have one of the newer iPhones that has facial recognition software so I don’t have to enter my passcode every time I pick it up. When I lie in bed at night and grab my phone to read or check my texts, it opens right up, no problem, even in the dark. I mean, obviously it does, because it knows my face, right? But in the morning, when I’m still in bed and I pick up my phone, it doesn’t recognize me. No matter how many times I try, adjusting my position or my facial expression, it acts like it doesn’t know me. This happens every day: my phone recognizes me and opens right up last thing before sleep, but by morning, it doesn’t know who I am anymore. And today, I had this disconcerting thought: Oh, my God, who did I become in the night?

It seems funny, now that I’m writing it down. But the truth is, don’t you occasionally feel yourself changing as you age? I do, and it can be a scary feeling. Sometimes I worry I’m losing myself.

But then I tried to explain this to a friend, and she startled me with her reply: “I can see how that would be scary, but maybe you’re not losing yourself. What if you’re actually finding yourself?”

I chose this picture to express excitement, but I think it actually looks like a vitamin ad for the 55-and-over crowd

Anyway, maybe that’s the trade-off of aging. You’ve got the uncomfortable stuff — like when you’re drying your hair and you fling your head over to dry the other side and you feel a shooting pain and think you’ve broken your neck but it just turns out you needed to stretch a little before doing something so energetic — but you also get a whole new you. You get to learn new things about yourself and others. You get to relate to the world in different ways.

And that’s all I’ve got for today. The end.

Jen

PS: As always, I’d love to hear what you’re doing these days to have fun. Here’s mine.

Look at all that white hair!

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