All week I’ve been trying to take a selfie that shows off my new red hair, but every time I take one, I’m unhappy with it. I see wrinkles around my mouth and eyes and on my forehead. I see skin that is too shiny and a chin that is sagging. I see chubby cheeks and teeth that aren’t white enough and a complexion that’s too white. I look at myself and think: I am aging.
But when I think a little more about being in my mid-thirties, I realize: I’m having a ball.
This is the time of freedom. This is the time to let go of the must-dos and the people-pleasing, the forget-yourself mentality and the quest for perfection. This is the time to stop second-guessing and berating myself.
I speak with confidence, and I hold my head up. I claim the things I know, and I call out my truths. I find bravery in places I never had it before (this week I sent a polite but very honest email to an editor who accepted and then un-accepted an essay – long story). I don’t needlessly apologize as often. I speak of my own imperfections, acknowledging them, and accepting them as a part of who I am. My body is curvy and my theology is all wrong. I never make my bed, and I pull the martyr routine for having to the dishes too often. I am imperfect, which makes me perfect.
For the first time I have the courage to believe in myself.
I dyed my hair red, and everyone is asking why. Perhaps this is just another way to redefine myself, or maybe I’ve finally come back around to who I am supposed to be, seeing that I was born with red hair. Or maybe I just happen to like red hair, and if that’s the answer, that’s the answer.
My new hair color may be fake, but it feels like me, and I feel the farthest from fake that I’ve ever felt.
Yes, the thirties are tired and frustrating and busy. But for me the thirties are my moment, my time to shed all the skins that don’t fit anymore and slip into my truest self. If that self is wrinkled and chubby and getting old, who cares? The point is that she is real, and that she finally is able to love herself, and in turn, to love the world and its many gifts and blessings.
So here is my advice to myself and to all of you: Take the selfie and love it.