Last week, I turned 39.
Arrrrgh, there’s no more denying it, I’ve turned over a new page. At 35, 36, or even 37, I still didn’t feel like it was settled. Even though I was starting to get ready for it, I still felt pretty comfortable being kind of an eternal adolescent.
Yep, I’ve always been a late bloomer. But now, no more kidding around, turning 39 is serious stuff.
Or not, actually. Because…
What is it like to get older in our time?
Well, the truth is, it’s pretty cool, actually.
There is how we look.
Today, you can stay beautiful all your life. This was true before too, of course. But today we see it in the media: life and beauty don’t stop at 35. Have you seen the latest lookbook for & Other Stories? So cool.
The women I find absolutely stunning are of all ages: Cate Blanchett, Lauren Hutton, Lupita N’yongo. Sophie Marceau on the cover of Vogue Paris this month. I don’t know what they do to be (and stay) so gorgeous and natural (no because let’s be honest : after 30, it’s more work), but I plan to find out and share their secrets with you.
Also, I have to say — wrinkles have never really scared me. It might be because my mother and grandmother don’t have very many, but it’s also because even when I tried, I’ve never been able to find them ugly.
When it comes to style, Emmanuelle Alt and Jenna Lyons are at the top of my list of women who really inspire me. And it has nothing to do with their age: They could be 20 years old and I’d still find them totally amazing.
There is what we build.
Since I was a late bloomer and started working late in life (wondering if I’d ever be able to make up for lost time), I have an anecdote to share with you that just makes me love life.
After a long career being a restaurateur, my mother studied all by herself and became a psychoanalyst at age 53. One day, I’ll tell you her incredibly inspiring story. It’s pretty reassuring for a daughter. You can start over at any point of your life.
I’m happy to be part of my generation.
It wasn’t easy growing up with the threat of AIDS around us, record unemployment rates, and not much left to revolutionize. The 90s were exciting — with a touch of punk no future (the new millennium really scared us, I think) but at the same time, they were incredibly inspiring times, and I threw myself into them completely — so much so that I kind of forgot to work on a career.
And just when I thought there was nothing very exciting left for me career wise, the Internet arrived. It was like a huge wave, a groundswell — the kind of revolution that only comes very rarely in history.
I’m part of the last generation who grew up without the internet. I feel very fortunate to have known what the world was like before. It’s the most unique point of view. One day I’ll tell my great grandchildren that my first boyfriend used to call me from a telephone booth and they’ll look at me like I’m an alien from another planet. And that’s exactly what I’ll be.
Fortunately, the older you get, the more affection you feel for those who are younger than you are. Everyone on my team, for example, is in their twenties, and working with them is one of the greatest experiences in my life right now.
I teach them things, of course, but I also learn things from them every day.
And the adventures of your inner life.
I’m not going to go on and on about how much wisdom you acquire as the years go by.
At 39, there are still tons of things I need to work on.
But I’m less anxious, more tolerant. A lot cooler, really. But still very far from being Master Yoda, and thankfully so.
It’s the same with love. Of course, you learn. But at the same time, let me assure you — you’re just as dumb in love at 39 as you were at 20.
But one of the most interesting of life’s adventures becomes a really pressing issue at 39.
Should you have a baby? Personally, I’m not someone who’s ever felt the biological clock ticking. I’ve thought about it from time to time, without getting too stressed, until last year, it hit me: if I want to have a child, it’s now or never.
And here again, I have to thank all of the women who make it possible to be so open about the subject.
In my entourage, and particularly in New York where people are so incredibly tolerant, I have friends who have made every possible choice. To have children. To not have children. To adopt. To have children late, to have children early. To have a child alone.
Think whatever you like, but all I see around me are very, very happy kids… It gives you, whether you’re with someone or not, a great freedom and a different way to see life’s big questions.
But you know what? In the end nature will decide. And that’s one of the great gifts of aging. The time is now. Live now. Make a decision. Become who you are.
[We'll see what the future holds for me -- it's much too complicated a subject to go into it here, but a lot of you have asked me about this, so I wanted to at least give some kind of response!]
There are other people’s opinions.
Not one day went by last week that people weren’t trying to reassure me about my age: “You’re so young!” (No.) or “Don’t worry, it’s going to be ok!” (Yeah, I know!) or just the wide eyes of my 23-year-old friends who were thinking something like, “Oh my god, I can’t even imagine, 39 is so long from now” (Nope, actually it comes really fast)(Time just keeps speeding up, actually).
Obviously, it makes me laugh, because I’m cool with it — I worked on it, I prepared myself, I thought about it, I know who I am. But what bothers me is that even with everything I’ve said here so far, there are always so many prejudices about age — especially against women.
People who say a woman is “beautiful for her age” (No. She’s just beautiful). The women who don’t dare tell people their age, or lie about it (lots of guys have this problem, too, don’t think that because it’s easier for them to age, they are less finicky about it)
Or people who call women “cougars” for being with a younger man. Let’s not even start with prejudice at work…
[I have a friend who never tells anyone her age and do you want to know what her problem is? People never stop asking her about it. By trying to protect herself, she turned it into the main topic of conversation about her.]
Thankfully, in 2014, we see women from all generations talking openly about their age. They’re not ashamed. They age with grace and confidence, and have fun with it. That’s the kind of woman I want to be.
It’s a powerful thing to accept yourself in all of your truth. It also takes the drama out of it when you express yourself openly and honestly.
And if you try to cling to a false youth, that just means you’re trapped in the past.
It’s much more liberating to live and enjoy your age, because that’s what opens the door to the future.
For yourself, and for everyone else.
So many happy birthdays to you all and a big kiss!!!
Translated by Andrea Perdue.