Caroline de Maigret Has a Love-Hate Relationship With Getting Older
Life is full of annoying things. And I’ve found that as you get older, they only become even more annoying. It starts with going to parties and noticing that guys of a certain age who used to flirt with you no longer look your way. Then it’s feeling healthy and in great shape, only to go out into the world and have someone say, “You look tired.” The biggest shock? Waking up throughout the night to go to the bathroom. Also, realizing that you have the number of a doctor for every single part of your body saved in your phone.
Getting older may not be fun, but as with anything in life, it’s easier to deal with when you can laugh about it. Like adding a little sparkle to your outfit, humor just brings a bit of joy to any situation and takes some of the seriousness away. I’ve always been inspired by women who tell you how things really are, and I wanted to share my experiences the same way. So I decided to write about them in my new book, Older, but Better, but Older. In so many ways older really is better. Sure, it’s strange that your skin and bones are aging, but besides that, what’s going on is actually really nice. At 44, I’m not afraid to make fun of myself or talk about my neuroses. In fact, it gives me a sense of freedom. People can’t talk about your flaws when you acknowledge them first.
Over time I’ve learned to live with my flaws instead of living against them. But it wasn’t easy. I went through a midlife crisis about a year and a half ago, when I realized that I was evolving into a new woman. It can be difficult to go from one phase to the next, and I didn’t want to change. It scared me to think that this could be the last time I was going to feel sexy or the last time I’d have a chance to re-invent my love life or my career. It sounds dark, I know. But after doing some crazy stuff and briefly leaving my boyfriend, I got through that anxiety. I discovered that change can be good — it means we’re not boring; we’re living. I also realized that age doesn’t have anything to do with the mind. Some people are kids forever, and others are old when they’re young.
I know that being in my 40s means I’m still very young, but in my mind I’m only 32. I feel like I’ve lived a thousand lives and I’m going to live a thousand more. I’m unstoppable. I never think, “Oh, no, you can’t do this or dress like that anymore.” I still have very strong ambitions, and there’s a lot I want to create. But I also prioritize my quality of life above all else. I’ve learned to take time and space when I need it, whether it’s for myself, with my man, or with my son. I want holidays! So, I have learned a new way of ambition that goes with the life I want to live.
I love how my mind is and where I’m at in my life right now, but I absolutely hate aging physically. I don’t like the fact that my skin is getting saggy and that it’s not as elastic as it used to be. I try to remember that wrinkles are just stamps on my face from saying yes to things and being alive, but if you gave me a magic wand and told me that I could look like I did 10 years ago, I’d do it right away. Obviously, I could get lifts or injections to fight wrinkles, but, honestly, those things scare the shit out of me. So, even though I’m dying to do them, I don’t.
Society has told us how men age well and how sexy their gray hair is, so why should women have to work twice as hard to keep being sexy? I’ve learned that perfection is simply not attainable and that knowledge is actually the sexiest thing — knowing who you are and what you love, and that it’s OK to treat yourself. I’m at peace with who I am, and I feel I’m allowed to do what I want. In the past I felt like I needed to be quite masculine and hide my body to show that I was powerful; I never thought I’d be respected if I wore a dress to a meeting. I don’t feel the urge to hide anymore.
I’m more of a woman today than I ever have been. I wake up feeling serene and less anxious than I used to. I’ve become nicer to others, and I’m kinder to myself. I’m a better person. I’ve learned a lot, and if you asked me about my goals in life, I’d tell you I’m right where I want to be. Of course, I’m still human, and I want to continue to be noticed. So, from now on, I’m OK with being liked for my legs. At least just a little.
For more stories like this, pick up the January issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download Dec. 20.