Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Jane Pan

I am not sure if I will ever be ready to accept my age. I don't really mind being 30, it is the fact I am supposed to be getting old I have a problem with. Like most kids, when I was younger I was impatient to grow up but now I am here I am desperately trying to back-peddle. With age supposedly comes wisdom and an element of self-confidence and assurance - unfortunately those aren't the only things that come with it.

I went to a trendy bar opening last night and chatting to a friend surrounded by IT boys and girls, we felt particularly out of our comfort zone. The beautiful people led us to reflect on the contradictions of age. Over the last month I have had the most enormous spot covering my chin that practically resembled a boil or wart it was so hideous. I thought spots were something only teenagers got and one of the perks of being an old-timer like me was supposed to be clear skin. Chatting away last night, it was clear I am not the only one who has entered old maid territory and is still spotty. My friend complained of spots and wrinkles – paradoxically signs of youth and age.

Weight and temperature control issues are other treats you can expect with age. Since turning 30, shifting the pounds seems to become increasingly difficult or maybe that's just because I am not trying so hard or my lack of a stable income means I am not exercising as much as I used to. I never used to feel the cold and adopted a Newcastle beer jacket returning from a night on the town but since returning to the UK have been walking around like the Michelin man wearing a ludicrous amount of layers. At night I am freezing and have resorted to wearing fleece pyjamas, a t-shirt, hoodie and socks with two duvets and a fleece blanket covering me and the added precaution of a hot water bottle. One morning I even woke up to find I was still wearing my scarf and had comfortably slept in it. Is this old age or just my body still adjusting to our icy temperatures after more than six months of continuously sweating it out in hot and humid climates?

Sleep patterns are something else that are supposed to change with age. I am constantly arguing with my father about this one. I have always been a “night person” and always will be, although I can get up for work and function in the morning when I need to. During the week it seems a physical impossibility to go to bed at a “reasonable” hour. I am always aware of how much “me time” I should have once I get home to relax and get things done, never quite managing to adjust my calculations after returning from a night out. I have always used seven hours sleep as an acceptable benchmark figure for the optimum nightly sleeping hours so rarely allow myself longer but often spill over into this designated time, just “getting something done”. At weekends, however, I relish a good lie in, attempting to compensate for all the allocated sleep hours I somehow managed to skip during the week. Of course, I am also aware that I quite often don't have to get up at a certain time so end up going to bed even later, frequently sacrificing lie-in hours and trying to at least manage the optimum seven. My dad says by sleeping I am “wasting the day” but I argue he is wasting the night. Instead of passing out in a chair at 7pm, I would rather completely tire myself out enjoying and utilising the quiet of the early hours to sleep peacefully, awaking to a full day. My father's next argument against being the only one in the house still awake is the waste of electricity but as The Boy pointed out, at this off-peak time energy costs are generally lower anyway. I wonder if the only thing to deprive me of my amazing ability to sleep and enjoy guilt-free lie-ins would be the introduction of children and the responsibility that comes with them?

It seems like age is merely an excuse or the scapegoat for many of these changes, rather than the cause. Perhaps with the fast pace of modern life our bodies are more prone to getting run down as we don't have time to take care of ourselves as well as we should, becoming easy targets for dreaded zits. In a strange limbo between young and old, exhibiting signs of both, I am determined to remain Jane Pan forever, eternally youthful in outlook, although perhaps not in appearance.

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