All the Wrinkles in the World

By: Mira Tosheva

I don’t remember when I first noticed that a tiny, little wrinkle had found its place on my face. To be more specific, near my eye. It didn’t worry me at all. I figured, I’d probably slept a little less than usual and it would be gone by tomorrow. So, I moved on with my life, not knowing what was coming. You can be sure though, that, as a woman, I definitely got frustrated when a second one popped up. Just like that. Without any warning. "You must be kidding me,” I thought, "For fuck’s sake, I am not ready.”  And then a lot more cursing! And even though I was quite aware that mimic lines are not something unusual, and are actually pretty normal, I was not prepared to share my face with them. Not at all.

Shouldn’t we get a notification or something when our faces are about to change? Shouldn’t we get some kind of guidance on how to accept the inevitable fact that wrinkles are coming?

They call them fine lines, I called them: a disaster, a nightmare. I felt betrayed by my own face. Did I laugh too much? Did I get frustrated too often?

Now what?!

''You need to pull yourself together,” I thought. And while I was trying to pull myself together, I was also trying to pull them out. I mean the wrinkles, the lines, those signs of an unpredictable invasion. I didn’t get obsessed with skin care, but I started staring at the face masks, sheets masks, and exfoliants too much and too often, as if staring could help in any way. It was a tough pill to swallow that most of the emotions I would experience in my life would leave their mark. No matter how good or bad I would feel, my face was going to react, and some of my reactions would find their permanent place around my eyes, my forehead, my mouth.

And then it dawned on me: I wasn’t battling my wrinkles. I was battling myself.

I eventually came to the conclusion that it was never about the wrinkles. I started to notice that I was fighting a personal battle to be liked and loved the way I am. In my personal life, I didn’t feel accepted for who I was and was judged too much. I constantly questioned myself and struggled with how to be the best version of myself. Instead of just being myself, I worried about being too much of what someone else would want me to be, which made me vulnerable to outside, superficial changes. My insecurity increased dramatically, and I needed to find a way out. For me, self-love was something that I couldn’t understand. How was it possible for people to just love themselves the way they were? How was it possible for people to like or accept other people just the way they were? I was far from understanding. It wasn’t about the fine lines on my face (caused by normal human emotions), but rather, it was me, being insecure. That was the point when I had to either find a way to deal with it or I would forever be questioning and doubting myself. The key to my personal well-being was to start accepting myself.

So, in a radical 180 move, I started allowing myself to be the worst version of myself in front of the people I really cared about. I don’t mean that I acted horribly toward them, rather I allowed these people to see me vulnerable, angry, frustrated, unhappy, bitter, exhausted, unkind, whiny, etc. In these moods, you’re simply not at your best. You’re far from perfect, and maybe you’re just too much for some people. And because of all this, two things started to happen. On the plus side, I felt liberated, but I also saw people leaving. When I stopped negotiating myself for others, I stopped pretending that life wouldn’t leave a trace on my face. It didn’t happen out of the blue, of course; it was more like a process, at times, an unconscious one, and during this whole process, I somehow forgot about my wrinkles. Not that I don’t notice them anymore, it’s just that my focus has shifted. I realized that life will leave traces, whether I like it or not. These traces will remind us of how hard we’ve laughed, how devastated we’ve been, and how remarkably strong we are. They’ll also remind us that our worth has nothing to do with how our face or body look.

I don’t need baby skin, because I am not a baby anymore. I am a grown-up woman, who laughs, cries, and experiences life as it is. Sometimes life is gentle, kind, and funny and gives us a hug (and a wrinkle). Sometimes it’s remarkably cruel and gives us a kick (and a wrinkle). Every time we experience any type of emotion, our face memorizes it, captures it, like a time capsule.

People call this aging. I call it living. Aging would never be possible if there was no living at all, and living changes us, including our faces. But those changes, God, I am so happy to see them. To welcome them as a reminder that I am still here and I am a part of this incredible journey called Life.

Now, I’ve got a face mask with my name on it!

Bless the wrinkles. We are laughing, we are living!

Mira T.