I Embraced Turning 30 By Dyeing A Streak Of My Hair Gray

I was dealing with aging anxiety poorly until I decided, with the help of my colorist, to symbolically accept getting older.
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I was dealing with aging anxiety poorly until I decided, with the help of my colorist, to symbolically accept getting older.

By modern standards, the big three-oh is not really considered old. However, at Casa Mederos, your tertiary decade renders you effectively geriatric. 

"Life is only good for the young and beautiful" was one of my mother’s favorite quips. Ruby was beautiful: blonde (bottle), blue-eyed, with an exaggerated hourglass shape. She commanded attention and reveled in it wherever she went. My parents, both early adopters of the plastic surgery movement, were the vainest people I have ever met. (I'll save the story about how they put me on the grapefruit diet when I was six, since that’s a brain journey for another post about my rampant self-destructive insecurity.)

Ruby and me; she was 48 in this photo and still facelift-free.

One of my most vivid memories of my mother was when she was discharged from the hospital after her facelift. She was absolutely grotesque, wrapped up like a burn victim with blood oozing out through her gauze. At 65, my dad got a neck lift, presumably to keep his 34 year-old wife interested (shocker update: it didn't work, she left him anyway). Was this the sort of thing I would have to do to stay young?

Obviously, these concerns were passed on to me through either nature, nurture or both. My personal vanity has been the lifeblood that feeds my insecurity leviathan, somehow allowing myself to be completely egotistical while still hating myself, telling myself that I'm fat, that I hate my skin, my boobs are too small, and now, the new installment on the hate train, that I’m effing OLD. 

Last week I turned 30.

Jess Grey 30 Misery.jpg

Since the day I celebrated 29, I have been struggling with this impending doomsday in the same way I deal with my overdue credit card bills: I kind of live in denial of their existence while quietly tearing myself apart for not being responsible enough to stop watching TV long enough to make an online payment. 

As my birthday approached, my terror sent me into a Xanax shame spiral of self-loathing that I can only describe as ridiculous. When I came out the other side slightly before the big day, I decided that this birthday bitch was not going to ruin me. 

I looked in the mirror and realized my problem: I didn’t look old(er). No grays, no fine lines, and no mothball smell that I could detect. The anticipation of aging was what was really troubling me. A psychotic control freak to my very core, dealing with unknown circumstances has never been my strong suit. I realized that I could control this mental monster and beat it at it’s own game. 

I called my hairstylist, Sally, and told her I needed a haircut and a small chunk of gray highlights. When I got to the salon, I slowly started talking my way out of it, especially when Sally wasn’t sure the color would take and informed me that it “may look like crap.” Ultimately, we both kind of threw our hands in the air and said, let’s do it. 

Jess Grey 30 Hero.jpg

It’s not a ton of gray, but I love it, and it stands as a reminder that aging shouldn’t be something to constantly fear, but something I should appreciate and try to deal with gracefully. With age comes wisdom, or so I’ve heard--not sure I’m quite there yet. Let’s see what 31 has in store.