How a Box with a Panda Helped Me Reach a New Realization

My patients were right: getting old ain’t for sissies

I found myself wandering the beauty and self-care aisles of a random TJ Maxx recently. I spotted something I hadn’t seen before: hydrogel eye patches. I was intrigued. 

There wasn’t just one choice, but several, and one stood out to me. A pink box with a panda on it. Not only were there 30 pairs, not just 5 like in some of the other choices, but they were also on clearance for $6. 

This is what my life has come to. Being desperate enough in my fight with crow’s feet to buy clearance undereye patches. I felt like I upgraded to the special forces unit, going above and beyond my daily eye cream. (By the way, I tried these, and they are awesome!)

“Getting old ain’t for sissies,” my patients often tell me. And as we converse about the changes our bodies have been through as we age, they scoff at my new discoveries, telling me I’m still a baby. But am I really?

If I’m still so young, why am I suddenly low-key obsessed with anti-wrinkle and anti-aging products? As that milestone age of 50 stares at me from the future, I suppose this is a natural phenomenon. This doesn’t make me excited about it, though. 

My social media feeds are bombarded with anti-aging red light wands, the latest wrinkle creams, and silicone patches to smooth out fine lines. And of course, since I clicked on one of these ads, they have proliferated significantly. They tempt me with their promises of making me look younger. 

This begs the question: do these products really work?

I dutifully apply eye cream, face serum, and moisturizer as part of my grooming routine.  I can’t tell if I’m starting to look younger or not. But my real fear is what would happen if I wasn’t using these products. 

I suppose some experiments are best hypothesized and not performed in real life. 

If it weren’t for the subtle gray streaks forming near my temples which punctuate my already very blonde hair and my gentle crow’s feet that appear every time I smile, I may actually look fairly young. At least my patients think I am. God bless them, because they always assume that I’m in my 20s. They really do know how to make me feel better about myself! 

The real question I need to ask myself is: do I really care about looking younger? Or am I just following what the media tells me I should be obsessed with? We all want to look pretty and young, right? 

The signs of aging appeared gradually, especially the grey hair. It was so insidious, I wasn’t sure if I was really seeing what I was seeing. But when I saw my parents for the first time in several months, now of advanced age and grey themselves, my dad confirmed my fears. 

“When did you start going grey?” he questioned. I don’t know who was more surprised, my father for noticing that his little girl is growing old, or me for him noticing. I wanted to tell him to shut his mouth! But I somehow managed to stay calm, although supremely humbled. 

That’s when it hit me: this process toward expiration is very real, and I’m not fooling anyone. 

I thought that as I aged I was certain that I would have a who cares attitude just like Jamie Lee Curtis, well known for not fighting the aging process. (I admire her, by the way.) But as I see the signs of aging in my own body, I find myself in a state of mild panic.

This is ironic because, for most of my life, I wanted to look older. When I was in graduate school I was constantly mistaken for a high school volunteer when I was on my clinicals. Little did they know I was 25 and pursuing my master’s degree. Looking young also earns you less respect in professional settings, as I discovered. 

These badges of honor like gray hair and fine lines should be something that I’m proud of. Although I’m definitely not proud of my much slower metabolism which is evident by my ever-widening midsection. But now that these signs of age are here, I just don’t think I’m ready for it. I don’t exactly feel old yet. So I seek remedies to outsmart this process. 

I continue to work out and run, although my performance is steadily declining. Running has become more of a social and mental outlet than a competitive one, which is fine by me. Again, what would my body look like without this physical intervention? 

Best not to tempt fate. Yet another hypothesis that will go untested. I will keep moving. 

Choosing an anti-aging remedy like eye cream is a monumental task. I’m so overwhelmed by all of the choices at my local Target or Ulta that I have given up, taking to Trader Joe’s for my skincare needs. It simplifies matters. I’m not sure if these are the best products on the market, but they seem to work fairly well, and it saves my brain from exploding trying to make a choice among dozens in the big box stores (or even the aisles of TJ Maxx). 

Maybe this simplicity makes me low maintenance. Maybe it just makes me practical. 

And I’d rather not discuss the signs and symptoms of perimenopause. That’s a whole other topic. My life would be infinitely better without night sweats and hot flashes. 

I can’t wait to see how else my body will choose to betray me as I inch toward 50. (Not really.) Maybe I’ll get around to dying my hair at some point. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I will just decide to let nature take its course. Or maybe I will fight it tooth and nail. Does that make me a sissy? Maybe I don’t care. 


Is your body starting to show signs of getting older like mine? I still feel fairly young. If only my body would reflect that!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy. 

Published by annecreates

I am a physical therapist, wife, mom, runner, artist, and vegan. I'm passionate about helping others find wellness, speaking about the human experience, and in fighting for social justice. Assistant Coach for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Current ambassador for: Boco Gear, SaltStick, SPIbelt, Goodr, Noxgear, and Switch4Good.

4 thoughts on “How a Box with a Panda Helped Me Reach a New Realization

  1. As 65 stares at me from the past, and I have no anti-aging or cosmetic routines whatsoever, I’m grateful that I am male as we seem to get off lightly in this area. You should do whatever makes you feel good, and ignore everyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

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