After a discussion with a client this week, I was reminded of an article I wrote a few years ago (when I turned 25). It was never published, so this will be a first. It’s a little longer than most of my blogs, and if I’m going to be honest, I remember feeling worse about turning 25 than I state in the article. I was so concerned with life passing me by that I ran a marathon to try and start getting my “List of Things to Do Before I Die” done. But maybe that sensation hadn’t quite hit yet at the time I was working on this piece.

Though it never got published, I always thought it was a nice testament to women:

I am turning twenty-five. It doesn’t bother me. I remember my sister getting depressed when this year came, but I’m not. I am going to be a quarter of a century, and I think that’s great. In fact, it should be declared a national holiday. The only thing is, I was just looking in the mirror and I noticed something. Not the two grey hairs I laughed off last week. No. This time, I discovered the brown spot these hairs are growing out of—and it has produced more than two. That’s right; I have acquired a brown spot on my scalp that grows grey hair. This worries me. I wasn’t prepared for it. My mom used to tell me she first felt old at twenty-six when she noticed a roll of fat on her stomach. When I was a kid, my best friend’s mom used to tell us, “One day in your thirties, you will look at yourself in the mirror and realize that you really need to start wearing make-up.” I’m still waiting for that day, but I believe her. I am prepared for many signs of aging, including grey hair, but brown spots, I am not prepared for.

This brown spot makes me wonder: what other surprises lay ahead? What are the little things older women forget to warn us younger ones about? The ones they hold secret so they can laugh at us when it’s our turn. I want to know. I want to find out what else is coming so that I can be prepared.

So I asked some women: “If you could give one anecdotal piece of advice to younger women about something they should prepare for in aging, what would it be?”

Here’s what they revealed:

“Milk–lots of it, and calcium; exercise; activities outside of the house and the kids; work that you enjoy and that stimulates you; and a strong support group of friends in similar situations; quality time with your spouse (if there is one); quality time with yourself.”
–Robin, my mentor when I taught high school

“Don’t have any wouldas, couldas, and shouldas in life. Go after what you want. No one is going to come after you. The world isn’t going to change for you. You need to adapt. AND…you have to keep pushing.”
–Janet, my sister’s godmother

“Please give me a little time. I had breast surgery one week ago. I will be going home today. I will rest and think about answers for your questions.”
–Christine, a friend from college

“I’ve noticed I’ve become invisible. This is what I didn’t expect. Since I don’t think of myself as OLD, it actually comes as a surprise. People do not respond to me the way they once did. Sometimes I go unnoticed; it’s an unsatisfying feeling.”
–Debi, my mom

“Always be your real self. It will attract those who love and accept you, and the rest don’t matter. You don’t want your tombstone to say: Here lies “Your Name” who lived life to please her mother, father, children, husband, pastor, teacher, friends, but not herself.”
–Debi, my mom (She gets two quotations for always giving the
best advice.)

Here I was expecting to get humorous tales about the first time these women found their “brown-spot,” but what I got were actual life lessons. Perhaps I asked the wrong question, but I don’t think so. At twenty-five, I was worrying about my appearance with getting older while by 50 women were passing on wisdom about life and how to live it. I shouldn’t be worrying about the moment when I am suddenly “old.” I should be out taking the world by storm. These women weren’t holding back secrets so they could laugh at me; they wanted me to know exactly what they wished they’d known. It shouldn’t take 25 extra years to figure that out. Thankfully, now I hope it won’t.