I read a few headlines yesterday about Jennifer Aniston turning 50. Now, with most celebrities, I don’t pay much attention to their birthdays or their ages, but when my contemporaries have MILESTONE birthdays, it just brings it home that I AM GETTING OLD.
When I first moved to Los Angeles, this is what I looked like.
(Yes. That’s a headshot. For a brief time I tried acting, but realized quickly that perhaps I didn’t have the constitution for so much rejection, so I stuck with my day job… teaching.)
When I moved up to LA, I started teaching at an elementary school in Hollywood. I was the youngest teacher there by at least 10 years. Despite being the oldest child in my family (and the oldest of 21 cousins), most of my life, honestly, I was always one of the youngest. I was one of the youngest kids in my classes all through school, and through college. I always dated older guys (though I married a younger one). I was comfortable being the youngest, and it always made me feel, well, youthful.
That changed a bit when I started classes at the Groundlings, and then started my favorite job of all time – Studio Guide at Universal Studios. There, I was still on the younger side, though I worked with several college students. Even though I was 24, I still felt like we were all contemporaries – whether my co-workers were older or younger than I was.
Back in my 20s, I spent my time teaching, giving tours, performing improv, and going dancing at clubs with friends. We also went to several live tapings of sit-coms, which was fun. (One of those shows? “Friends.”)
(While I admit I never got the Rachel cut, I did share some fashion choices with the ladies on the show, for better or worse.)
After I had my first child and he was in preschool, most of the moms I met were very close in age to me… either older or younger by just a couple of years. Most of those moms’ oldest children were the same age as my son. By the time my youngest child was in preschool, I was definitely one of the oldest moms, as she was my youngest, and the other kids were their oldest. I found I had less in common with some of those moms, because they were just beginning the journey of school with their children, when I had been through it twice already. When I was turning 40, they were still in their mid-30s, and somehow that felt like a big difference.
Then, 3 years ago, I went back to the classroom. HOLY. COW. Of course, there are teachers older than I am, or around the same age as I am, but I’m teaching with women and men in their 20s. And boy, there’s nothing quite like talking to someone in their 20s to make you feel old. The last time I was in the classroom, they could have been my students. I am *technically* old enough to be their *gasp* MOTHER.
Yet, there is something that helps ease the pain of getting older. Each year I’ve inched toward a big birthday, I am reminded that I am not alone in this. My birthday is in November, so I have the whole year to think and ruminate about how I’m turning X. And then February rolls around and I read that Jennifer Aniston just turned that same age, and somehow I feel better. I realize I haven’t aged as well as she has, and I’m certainly not in such great shape as she is, but knowing we are somehow kindred in turning some MILESTONE number makes it a little easier.
It’s even better when you realize your own friends not only are turning the same age as you will be, but are going through a lot of the same challenges, changes, and insecurities as you are. It’s nice to feel like you’re in this together, and aren’t alone. So, while I’m not super excited to be turning 50, and I’m feeling SUPER OLD and starting to wonder how long I’ve got left on this earth, I realize that it’s not THAT old, and I will be okay. There’s a lot of life still to live, and as long as I take care of myself, I’ll hopefully have a great life ahead of me.
So, Happy Birthday Jennifer Aniston! Happy FIVE OH. I hope this is a stellar year for both of us! I’m just mere months behind you.