Earlier today I was washing my hands in front of the bathroom mirror when I noticed something horrifying – what looked suspiciously like a grey hair. Now I know we all go grey eventually, and I’m also aware as a result of my peers’ experiences that it’s not uncommon for the odd grey to sprout in your early thirties. But, naively it now seems, I thought that just applied to people with dark hair (the recent media furore surrounding Kate Middleton’s apparently greying locks not having escaped my attention), not blondes. And I certainly never thought it would apply to me.
I’ll never forget the day my mum came into my bedroom when I was at home one weekend several years ago. She looked into the mirror and announced in a pained voice: “You know darling, when I look at myself now I can’t believe it’s really me – inside I still feel the same as I did when I was in my twenties. It’s horrible getting old.”
That moment was a turning point for my twenty-something self, as hitherto I’d always laboured under the misapprehension that one day – most likely when I hit my thirties, which at that time still felt like aeons away – I would magically feel grown up and more than able to assume the responsibilities befitting such a status. Realising this would not, in fact, be the case, was like receiving an unwanted and aggressive slap in the face.
No matter how much you sugar coat it, the truth is that there is no magic age when you become a grown-up – indeed many people (and I fear I may fall into this category) go through their whole lives never quite feeling like one (conversely, some people – who are in the minority, I might add – seem to have come out of the womb responsible adults, though for the purpose of this post I shan’t get into talking about them). When our bodies begin to show signs of ageing, therefore, it feels like a betrayal. How can we have grey hairs – surely a sign of our imminent demise? – when we still feel (and often act) like teenagers? It’s not fair! (I am stamping my feet as I type this – very mature).
Having re-examined the rogue hair in the mirror this afternoon I think I may, in fact, have been mistaken about it being grey. But, whether it was a trick of the light or not, something tells me that moment might have been quite pivotal in the next stages of my development. Each decade brings with it new learnings, and today I’ve discovered that grey doesn’t equal grave. A cheery thought to leave you with on a Friday!