Award-winning poet Ashley Jones (who’s also a colleague and friend) once told me that she writes to better understand the world. I’m pretty sure I do the same. But I recently realized that I also write to better understand myself.
I’m happy to announce that in 2019 I’ll be writing a new column for Birmingham magazine. Also titled See Jane Write, this column will cover cultural issues that many women face. For my debut piece, I wrote a raw and real personal essay on my struggle to embrace the beauty of aging and in doing so started to understand why I’m suddenly so worried about getting older.
I was inspired to write this piece by a lot of things, including this quote from Simone de Beauvoir:
“Old age was growing inside me. It kept catching my eye from the depth of the mirror. I was paralyzed sometimes as I saw it making its way toward me so steadily when nothing inside me was ready for it.”
When I was younger I declared I’d never get cosmetic surgery to erase wrinkles or even dye my gray hair to defy aging. I will “age gracefully” I would say. I will be proud of being older, I’d proclaim. And I meant it. Or I thought I did.
You see, when I was in my 20s I looked forward to turning 30. In my early 30s, I looked forward to turning 40. But while writing my Birmingham magazine column I realized that just because I looked forward to getting older didn’t mean I would actually be able to accept looking older.
I looked forward to getting older because I thought that with it would come more confidence and courage and, in some ways, it did. But getting older also brought under-eye circles, belly bulge, and a double chin. And I was NOT ready for any of that.
Honestly, I don’t think I actually believed I’d ever look my age. I was mistaken for a teenager well into my 20s and carded when ordering a drink well into my 30s. Plus, I’ve always been surrounded by older women who are GORGEOUS so I thought I’d just get better with time like they did.
Thinking of these women, though, made me realize just how hard I am on myself, how hard we all are on ourselves. Do the older women in my life have wrinkles and wobbly arms like I do? I have no idea because when I look at them all I see is their beauty, a beauty that comes from the inside out, regardless of their shape or size and even regardless of their age. So, why can’t I see myself the same way?
I have a rule when it comes to writing about and sharing my personal struggles: I never do so until I’ve found a solution or have at least learned a lesson that I can pass on. No, I haven’t found the cure to body image issues. Sorry. But I do believe that focusing on self-care will foster self-love. If I sleep more and have more fun; if I drink more water and do more yoga; if I eat well and exercise often; if I pray every morning and journal every night; if I see my doctor and see my therapist, I believe that one day, eventually, I’ll look in the mirror and see myself and smile.
If you’re in the Birmingham area, be sure to pick up your copy of the January issue of Birmingham magazine to check out my new column “See Jane Write.”
And if you want to know how my secret for landing column opportunities join me online on Sunday, January 13 at 6:30 p.m. CT as I kick off the 2019 See Jane Write Virtual Summit with my workshop, #SquadGoals: How Building Community Can Make Your Writing Dreams Come True. Sign up here.