"It doesn't hurt. Honest." So said a number of friends on the approach to my milestone birthday.
I don't consider myself to be a particularly fragile person. However three months into this business of being forty and guess what? It does hurt. A lot.
Let's get the vanity issues out of the way first, shall we? On the grey hair front, individual strands have morphed into wiry forests of full-blown white. Fine lines have turned into crevices. And don't even get me started on the injustice of having both wrinkles AND adult acne. Surely one or the other is sufficient?
These are directly related to the unfortunate phenomena above. Cleansing one's face with a baby wipe no longer cuts it as a beauty regime. Ditto to buying cheapo home hair dyes. The more mature lady requires a considerably larger budget in order to look semi-human. Enter my new obsession with the latest anti-wrinkle creams. And let's not dwell on my rocketing annual hair salon outlay.
The eye-watering expense doesn't end with beauty products though. The wardrobe needs to up its game too. Gone are the days when you can trip into New Look, select the first pair of £20 court shoes in the right colour and waltz out again. Oh no. Forty-year old feet require quality footwear. And by quality I mean expensive. Likewise, the clothes shops of your teenage years with their teeny sizes (and teeny prices) are no longer your domain. Instead, you beat a path to the Hobbs sale because "their fit is so much more flattering."
In fairness, I was warned about this one. A super-fit forty-something friend told me that she has to "do more just to stay in the same place". No kidding. I've upped my own regime with no tangible improvement in - er - anything. Then there's the aches, pains and creaking joints to deal with. I crouched down to retrieve something in a meeting recently. The crack from my knees almost caused an echo. If I don't die of decrepitude, I may well die of embarrassment.
Online form filling
Always a tedious exercise, this has reached a new level of discomfort. I've now joined a bracketed age group that extends to 55. Then there's the scrolling backwards to find one's year of birth, which takes an eternity.
I do, however, always like to end on a high. With that, let's consider my new eligibility for the veteran's category in running events. It may seem depressing, however it also means that I'm no longer competing against lithe eighteen year olds.
As one fellow forty said: "Let's enter everything this year, while we're still the youngest."
Amen to that.
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