Coming back from visiting my parents for Christmas, I got talking to a woman at the bag claim carousel. (Since I started reading Roissy, I can’t see the word “carousel” without laughing out loud.) We exchanged some pleasantries and I got to thinking that she seemed very familiar somehow.
Then it hit me – two years ago, I had sat next to her on a flight to my hometown and we had chatted extensively. She opened the conversation when she saw me reading “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (between that and the Married Man Sex Life Primer, I believe I have pioneered a subset of day game that involves reading titillating books in public). I recall finding her reasonably pretty and interesting and also getting her business card but not following up; she had no mobile number and the idea of phone-game at her business desk was not appealing.
You’re probably guessing the punchline at this point…it was difficult to recognize her as the same girl. In two years she had gone from – I use these word descriptively and not pejoratively – “curvy” to “husky,” her hair didn’t have its previous sheen, and her skin tone was considerably less healthy.
Another late-young-adult professional had started to hit The Wall.
There’s more than age to The Wall. I’m someone who thinks that an unhealthy look reflects not only unhealthy choices regarding diet and exercise, but an unhealthy overall lifestyle – stress, unrealistic aims, unfulfilling habits, poor sleep, bad personal relationships, an aggravating job situation, and more. Aging is going to happen, but it doesn’t have to run you ragged and make you unrecognizable to casual acquaintances.
I’ve seen an improved job situation dramatically boost an individual’s appearance of health and wellness.
I’ve seen even marginal increases in doing something he loves take a man’s life from mediocre to very happy, even with considerable shit in the rest of his life.
In my own life, a bit more sleep has extensive benefits for my libido, grit and mental clarity.
Relationship stress and the hunt for couplehood can be a big factor in an unhealthy psyche, particularly for women. If the constant stream of articles coming out of the Huffington Post and the Atlantic are any guide, late 20s/early 30s single women are prone to be very unhappy or at least very anxious about their nonmarried or non-relationshipped status and the dwindling number of candidates. This was wonderfully played up in a music video I discussed here. I know a number of women who definitely are not besieged by anxiety and disappointment, so it’s not an absolute, but I also know a number of women who have grown up insisting they “didn’t need a man” but now find themselves feeling lost without the stability offered by marriage and family; in reality, I don’t think this was a flip-flop of their desires as much as a subconscious expectation that marriage would always be there for the taking.
But I digress. I have no indication that this single-serving friend from baggage claim is unhappily single or otherwise concerned with her social status. But she doesn’t look good, and that tells me something’s not right in her life.
My aim here isn’t to taunt or criticize, but just to note that the changes of age can come up fast like a curving exit offramp. You let a few healthy habits slip here and there and before you know it, you’ve downshifted a point or two in SMV and with your body (and possibly your mind) settling into a middle-aged concept you’re probably not going to get it back. It changes the way you feel about yourself and changes the way people react to you. Honestly this goes for men and women.
That’s why part of your medium-term life plan should always be how to hedge against The Wall and “protect” your SMV.