Tuesday 15 January 2019

The 10 Year Challenge: Getting Older & Growing into Myself

If you're on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you've probably seen the 10 Year Challenge popping up a lot in your feed lately, with people posting photos of themselves from 2009 vs 2019.

It's really interesting seeing how much (and how little) people have changed. All those sweet fresh faces! Old friends looking just how they looked when you first met, and new friends looking sort of not yet fully formed, a sort of pre-them from before you knew them and they grew into their wonderful current selves! So many lovely faces! Such fun!

I love looking back at old photos - if you've been reading my blog for a while you might remember that I've been assembling self-portraits to represent each year for a while now - so I thought I'd join in the fun with this challenge. But: could I find a photo of myself from 2009? I absolutely could not. I don't have a lot of photos of myself from around that time anyway and I think that might have been the year my computer died a sudden death when I hadn't backed up my files for months. (Oops). (Always back up your files, you guys!!).

Sooo... here's me in 2008 (modelling a headband I'd made for my shop)...

... and me in 2018 (modelling the denim jacket I customised for Sticker You).

Ten years of taking crafty selfies and sticking them on the internet! Woohoo!

This pair of photos is kind of cheating because the light in the hallway where I took that most recent photo is VERY FLATTERING but apart from my glasses getting bigger I'm not sure how I look has changed that much?

I mean, obviously, I can see time making its mark on me when I look in the mirror in the morning. I've got a lot more wrinkles and crinkles than I had back in 2008, I'm developing a pretty strong frown line right in the middle of my forehead, and my first grey hairs showed up last year (I'm not sure exactly when as I'd not noticed them until my youngest sister helpfully pointed them out to me this summer!). And on mornings when I've not had enough sleep? Oh my goodness. A bad night's sleep ages me about a decade these days.

Mostly though what I see when I look at these photos, and which may not be visible to anyone else but me, is how much happier with myself I am these days. Happier with who I am and how I look, and generally just so much more confident and content to be myself. I'm lucky to be healthier and fitter than I've ever been, too (one of the excellent and unexpected side-effects of falling in love with walking).

People talk (slightly creepily) about girls "blossoming" into young women, but here in my late 30s, with 40 on the rapidly approaching horizon, I feel like I'm in full bloom inside and out.

When we turn 30 (if not even earlier) we start getting hit with so many messages from our youth-focused culture that we, as women, should be freaked out about "losing" our looks as those dreaded "signs of aging" start appearing. We've got over the angst and body confidence issues of our teens, gone through our messy "what am I doing with my life??" twenties, and just as we're starting to relax into ourselves and, I think, beginning to really grow into our power... all of a sudden the world says "woah, settle down there ladies, have you considered that there's all these new ways to hate yourself?"

Well, I refuse. I refuse to hate the gradual way my face and body is changing as I'm aging and I absolutely refuse to hate myself even a tiny bit because of it. I am going to continue to bloom and I hope you guys will, too xxx


Jo said...

What a beautifully written piece. I am also someone who has increased with confidence and happiness as life has gone on. I have learnt not to berate myself for my wall flower years but see them as part of the journey. Not sure where it is taking me but it mostly all seems to get better in life for me. I have my own daughter and I wonder if I can help her to skip some of the years where she might doubt who she is and what she wants from life but then I guess it’s part of her journey and maybe she won’t have the same one I have.
Anyway, your 2019 picture is fabulous, showing a confident, contented face. It’s great to see! Here’s to the next 10 years!

Eva said...

Não se preocupe, pois você é uma bela mulher, e o tempo só adicionou um charme maior. Parabéns e continue otimista assim.
ciao, Eva

Bugs and Fishes said...

Jo - thanks so much for your thoughtful comment and kind words! I think no matter what messaging we get (good or bad) from other sources, it can take a while to fully believe this stuff. I definitely feel like I now ACTUALLY PROPERLY BELIEVE all the things I used to blithely say about body positivity, etc. It's taken my heart a while to catch up with my head, I guess!

Eva - thank you xx

Ariadne said...

You look great and the two photos do not look ten years apart. AriadnefromGreece!

Bugs and Fishes said...

Haha, thank you! xx