On Being a Young Woman at 50

February 28, 2021
By: Zeinab Mobarak

Photo: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Blend Images / Getty Images

Who said growing old was difficult? It is easy, actually very very easy! It creeps up on you without you noticing it at all, kind of like love (when you least expect it and with the most unsuitable guy), like rain (when you’ve just had your hair done), or like your mother-in-law (when you’re in your undies getting rid of unwanted hair). Wish we could get rid of unwanted mothers-in-law! 

I stand in front of my mirror and all I can see is that young girl of 16, ok 20, alright alright… 25 (but I won’t go a day further) that I once knew and thought still is me. So why doesn’t everyone else see her? Probably because she is so well hidden inside me, hiding from the wrinkles, the grey hair, and the saggy parts of my torso. 

Different techniques were used to get that desired effect on that young lady, hiding her away deep within. Techniques used on millions of women around us.

Technique number 1: Used by “Her Master’s Voice”, the mother. It really is very effective in giving that bright happy young lady the first push and shove deep within us. It is simply the words “Stop being silly”. Three words that have the desired effect. They are sometimes coupled with that frilly extra “Oh Grow Up!” Push.. Down goes that young lady, making way for the first appearance of the “Mature Me”.

Technique number 2: The one we unfortunately use on ourselves. The “No Hurt” technique. Being grown up involves our being hard to the core; aka bitchy, unaffected and unwilling to shed tears in front of anyone, especially other “Mature Me’s”. Ok we break down when finally we face our empty house, room, sometime even car, but not when observers are there to watch. We might throw ourselves on the bed and eat the edge of the pillow babbling and drooling a lost love, a failed opportunity, or even a disappointment over something silly (especially that!) But the moment our cell phone rings it’s all about image, pride and “Hi dear, no can’t possibly come to the movies, I’ve just washed my hair and it will takes AGES to set”, click .. aaaaaah!!!! Down down down, that young lady takes a few more feet down inside of us.

Technique number 3: Sophistication.  A guilt shared by us, and the world around us. Trivial interests are banned, idiotic notions discarded. Who gives a **** your favourite Disney story is being shown in town On Ice! What difference does it make that you are really interested in buying that special “Little Pony” that will complete your collection? You should be discussing global warming (no talking about the heat wave is not enough), the rise and fall of Wall Street stocks and bonds (yes that great bull on display is grand but no you can’t mention it), the volatile situation in Kashmir, the ethical dilemma of mercy killing and of course preserving the Galapagos Islands.  Galapa..who?? Yes. Sophistication is the name of the game. The only game you’re allowed to play in “mature” society.  Push.. shove and hide that bright happy young you.

But, when you really reach that glorious number 50, you can afford to tell the whole world to go out and be damned (wanted to say something else, but my mature self wouldn’t let me!). I still enjoy Disney films and sing along blaringly in the car, I eat ice cream on the street dripping all over the place, and speak in a silly squeaky voice much like cartoon characters. Yes I do that in public. My bright young lady has risen once more out of my dark insides. 

Bring out yours, no matter what age you’re at.

Zeinab Mobarak: Fiction and Play-writer, Translator and former Head Writer of Sesame Street Egypt. She wrote a musical children’s play “Meekros and Tacros” in English. In 2016 she wrote the lyrics to a short film “The Birthmark Man” that won first prize in “48 Hour Film Festival”. Her first novel in Arabic, “A Glance through the Sieve” was published in December 2016. She’s currently working on an English book “Staring in the Face of Ghosts”.

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