On Aging Gracefully

Last Friday, I found my first gray hair atop my head. I have had a few pop up in my eyebrow line in recent years, very white, which I jokingly referenced as “finally growing my unicorn horn”, but this was the first in my hair. By Sunday, two more had appeared. My first feeling was actually excitement, because the single strand of silver was very pretty against the rest of my hair, and I showed it to my husband. Then I felt a little disappointment that I will soon no longer be mistaken for being a decade younger than I actually am, and I’ve been really thinking deeply the past couple of days about being a woman, questioning how others will view my worth once I’m “past my prime” and less an object of sexual desire, and how tired I still am along with all my other mom-friends with young children and just beyond caring.

Older Katharine Hepburn with gray hair

Katharine Hepburn, my namesake, has been my ideal for aging for a long time. Her entire life was lived the way she wanted, she had a fantastic career well into the later part of her life, and she didn’t fall into the trap of trying to be something other than what she was. And she was a striking woman, right up until her death. But now that I find myself at 36 starting to transition more fully into middle age, I find myself feeling a little insecure. I think it may be due to the fact that I know I don’t have the option of hiding the grays at this point. Even if I wanted to dye my hair, due to my allergies and chemical sensitivities, my only option would be to use henna (even organic dyes use harsh chemicals that would set off my inflammation), and I’ve used henna once and liked the result, but it lasts for so short a period of time that I do not want to get into that kind of maintenance schedule.

So my hair will slowly get streaked with silvery white, and I am okay with that. My husband has assured me that he will also be okay with that, especially since he has been adding silver to his hair for several years now (but men look so sexy with that gray at their temples…). I am embracing this next stage with more wisdom and clarity than I ever could have had in my youth. I think a big help has been having women as friends in a wide range of ages, from late teens to their seventies. Feeling that chain, observing the different stages of growth… it has been so beneficial.

And as I embrace middle age-hood, I am recommitting myself to self-care. My body, my mind… both need nurturing and tending so that I can last a good while longer yet. Life is too interesting to throw it all away neglecting myself.

Love who you are, where you are, even while working to move to where you might want to be. You are worth it.