January 17, 2013

When Is It Too Late?

When I was born, I was born with flat ears. My mum had sticky-out ears (still does) and was thrilled to note that her first-born daughter did not suffer from the same affliction.

But somehow, fairly soon into my life as a human person, my ears sprung out from their position neatly against my head, and assumed the shape they have held ever since - my right ear at around 45 degrees from my scalp, and my freakish left ear more like 85.

Can't really miss it

My sticky-out ear has bothered me for as long as I can remember. When my hair is down, it is well disguised, but when my hair is up, or pushed away from my face, it is out there boldly on display. When I look at photos, I inevitably catch a glimpse of my ear poking through my curls, or jutting out jauntily to wave at the world. 

I have frequently told my mother off for not getting my ears pinned back when I was a child.

"Well, do it now!" she tells me cheerily (which is a deflection from her own culpability if ever I heard one).

And I think about doing it now. I scrape my hair back from my head and hold my ears back with my fingers and marvel at how different - how much more sophisticated - I look. Or I stick them back with blu-tac and parade around for my husband.

"You really do look different," he told me the other day. "Maybe you should go and get them pinned back."

"Really?" I asked incredulously. My husband has always claimed that my ears don't bother him. 

"Sure," he said. "And you can get your boobs done while you're at it!" He laughed and I rolled my eyes. Perhaps he wasn't the best one to ask.

But truly, I'm in a dilemma. Not, as you might think, because I'm in two minds about the actual procedure. Ear correction surgery, or otoplasty, is very, very low risk, and can even be performed without general anaesthetic. It's not dangerous, it's not particularly expensive, and there is virtually no recovery period. There is nothing stopping me from having it tomorrow.

What bothers me is a different dilemma. And it's my age. 

I am forty-four years old and have got to this stage in my life with one remarkably sticky-out ear. And whilst a part of me longs to experience life with a nice flat ear, a huge part of me feels that I'm too old. I've only got forty or fifty years left on this earth - why bother altering my appearance at this advanced age? How will it change my life? And even if it will change my life for the better, is there any point when said life is already half way over?

But then that makes me sad. Sad because I'm not opening myself up to the possibility of change just because of my age (even if that change is just to the shape of my ear). Sad because I feel like I've given up the right to shake up my life because it's half way over. And - more significantly - if I feel that way about my ear, then surely that translates to other areas of my life as well: my relationships, my career, the way I think and operate as a person.

So this post is not really about plastic surgery. It is about age, and new beginnings, and when it is time to accept our lot in life, and when it is still okay to change and to grow. Is it ever too late to turn things around? Is it ever too late to pursue a dream?

I'm still no closer to sorting out the ear dilemma. I don't know whether I'll go through life like this, or whether I'll turn around one day and get the surgery. But it's certainly got me thinking about life in general, and about aging in particular. 

You?

38 comments:

  1. I think you might be over-analysing it a bit (which is your prerogative, since this is your blog and all). If your ear bothers you, and you have the means and a good doctor, then you should get it done. Save your angst for the day when you're contemplating a tattoo, or letting your hair go grey, or one of those plastic surgery procedures with a name that is far ickier than "otoplasty." Do it, you'll be glad you did, if for no other reason than you can stop looking for your ear in photos the way I look for my crooked teeth and double chin.

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  2. Lisa @ Blithe MomentsJanuary 17, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    I had my nose done when I was 18 - best decision ever. I used to notice my nose all the time. I thought about it often. I would try to sit in positions where I couldn't be seen side on. Since I had my nose done the only time I think about it is when I need to blow it. I can't tell you how awesome that is.

    In regards to age, in the last few weeks I've got a new job, the dance school that has been a major part of my life for 8 years has shut down without warning, several friend's relationships have ended suddenly. At 33 change is being thrust upon me with extreme force. But the thing I realise is that I can now deal with it and make the best of it in a way I couldn't in my teens or 20s. I don't think age should stop you trying something new, in fact it lets you try new things with better results.

    So I would say go for it. Get them pinned back. You have clearly always wanted to - go for it! (although I will say without the giant arrow and the story the only thing I would have noticed about your ear in that photo is what a nice earring you are wearing - we always notice those things about ourselves more than anyone else does).

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  3. With your ear, your perception of it is different to the rest of the world. You might thing you are walking around with a satellite dish attached to the side of your head while no one else has noticed it. It looks like a perfectly normal ear to me. More to the point of this post - of course it is not too late to change any area of your life if that is what you want. However changing your career and personal life should not be related to a perceived flaw in one's appearance.

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  4. I love this topic and struggle with it always. I thought I was too old to learn guitar at the age of 28. Four years on, I'm regularly playing gigs with just me, my guitar and my original songs. It changed me, my life, what I thought I was capable of. We limit ourselves so much!

    I like to look back on the things I thought I wasn't capable of, for whatever reason, and remind myself that I did it. Age is just another barrier on top of all our other barriers, and it's a constant battle to knock them down, but so worth it!

    That said, I finally decided to fix my black tooth which has been a part of me since I was 16. Because I'm getting old. And ugly. And it's one less barrier. Age does funny things to your brain.

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  5. I have two tattoos! I didn't analyse that at all! And as a result, I LOVE the first but kind of am ambivalent about the second. And I'm pretty sure I'd never contemplate any other plastic surgical procedure. EVER. (Also, have never noticed your double chin.) xx

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  6. Wow. Thanks for sharing, and for the advice. And yes, we always notice the things about ourselves more. (Except for that time a doctor pointed out a chicken pox scar on my nose which I'd NEVER noticed & which I subsequently became obsessed with. Sigh.....)

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  7. I totally hear you. And I agree entirely. It was more the idea that I felt that at this stage of my life I was (am) too old for change, and I realised that I feel this about most areas of my life. And that realisation was quite shocking. Thanks for the comment xxx

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  8. I love this comment. And I love that you're playing gigs after just four years! Thank you x

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  9. Detachable PrincessJanuary 17, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    Kerri, my mum had braces not too long ago - she was 52. Like you and your ear, she had always hated her teeth, thought they were too big. I say go for it.

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  10. Do it. I fucken triple-dog dare you to do it and I don't know why i'm swearing. Can I come to your Ear Party afterwards, to celebrate?


    I got my sticky-outty tooth finally crowned in 2011 - was unbelievably liberating and relieving. I think it made me realise I could change/do other things too, if I wanted.


    Xxx

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  11. What_Sarah_Did_NextJanuary 17, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    In my opinion, Kerri, It's NEVER too late. Life's a gift - and far too short to go through it thinking there's no point changing anything because your life's half over. I say do it!

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  12. WHAT! - your That OLD !!!! if you can - DO!!! it will make you happier at no kings ransom, your not face-lifting in disguise are you?

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  13. My hubby makes the boob comments too... I'd like to see what his look like after two kids!! LOL! I was contemplating a similar question the other day... at what point do I stop worrying and watching what I eat... when do i stop exercising (not that it happens too often)... but at what point do I stop and say, "I'm happy with the way I look?" xoxo

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  14. My Grandmother, who is/was my inspiration in life rode a scooter around Bali for her 70th, and in her late 60s learnt to paint always told me "you are never too old for change and adventure". They are your ears, do what you want with them. But if you say 44 is too old again I will cyber bitch slap you! Two reasons, 1: you don't look or act 44, 2: I am 44.

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  15. Kerri, age is irrelevent. If it will make you happy to have the procedure done, then do it. You're already a fox..... :-)

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  16. Lovely lady, we're all just scared 14 year olds on the inside anyway. So do whatever you want and fuck your age.
    x

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  17. I LOVE that you get what I'm talking about. Thank you x

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  18. LOL. DEFINITELY no face lifting here. Would never, EVER do anything so invasive & risky. And I don't have a problem with wrinkles. Just my sticky-out ear. x

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  19. If you work out the answer can you let me know?

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  20. OKAY!!! I'll stop!!! Cyber bitch slapping sounds scary!!!! x

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  21. Hey, the last fox around here ate my bunny rabbit.... x

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  22. I think it always ok to change and grow no matter what our age. I think a 99 year old person can change and grow on their deathbed. I don't think we should ever consider ourselves too old to make changes. Of course sometimes we have to accept certain limitations. If you are over 80 with severe arthritis probably not a good time to decide to learn to fly a helicopter but there are plenty of other new things to try. So I don't think your age should be a factor in your decision.

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  23. Just be warned - a friend had it done and it was very painful. Make sure you get good drugs beforehand! Butif it makes you feel happy, do it! Life's too short.

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  24. My daughter was born with sticky-outy ears. I worried for about two seconds. But, as she was blessed with good hearing, who was i to criticize the design of her speakers?

    Sure, she's had a day or two in her long seventeen years on this planet to wonder if her ears stick out more than they 'should'. But she's beautiful just as she is, and fortunately 'grown into them'. I couldn't possibly ever look at her and tell her to 'fix' them, because that would imply there is something wrong with her.

    Personally, I say you're never to old to do anything...but there must surely be some reward in just accepting ourselves as we are. If you could actually just decide to give no more thought to the design of your ear, i'd imagine that would be quite an amazing gift of freedom to yourself. But ultimately, the choice is yours. I say wear your dangliest, brightest earrings...but that could be because I'm a wuss who hates the thought of any surgical procedure that isn't saving my life.

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  25. Ah... see, that's the thing. I have spent 44 years trying to 'accept' my ears and I've always hated them. I accept all the other (billions of) flaws I have, but my ears bug the crap out of me. Always have. Which is why I'm thinking about it. Thanks so much for the input x

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  26. Do it for you and you alone, if at all. I so get the age pondering, I am at a stage where I just don't mind so much. You are who you are and always will be you xx

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  27. Well, I'm about to turn 60 and I definitely believe in change at any age. That's what life's about. I started a blog a year ago and I'm teaching my daughter the ins and outs of Twitter. I also lost 20 kilos 18 months ago. If you don't like your ears, I can't see even the slightest reason for not having them pinned back. I have a friend who had it done at your age after her daughter did.


    But, on a more philosophical level, people sometimes believe that changing something in their physical appearance or lives is going to solve all their other problems. Which it rarely does. Change takes us out of our comfort zone. Maybe that's what you're worried about.

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  28. Go for it, you're never too old to make yourself happy! I'm about a month off 47 and am contemplating braces and getting rid of the the big moles on my face. Once I get the balls to do it off course (I've got a pointy ear too but I can hide it's pixieness under my hair). My Dad started painting and growing his grey hair in a long ponytail in his 70's, among other things. On his death bed at 80 he only regretted not doing what he wanted sooner. xx

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  29. WELL DONE YOU! And no, I don't think changing my appearance is going to solve all my problems. But yes, perhaps I'm worried about being taken out of my comfort zone. I have to think about that one. Thanks x

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  30. THANK YOU. Such a wise comment. Get the braces! Get rid of the moles! DO IT! x

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  31. Kathy www.yinyangmother.comJanuary 18, 2013 at 9:48 PM

    Hey Kerri - I'm the same age as you and I feel exactly the same way! Although I don't have a sticky out ear. There are other things about my appearance I would change (cellulite be gone), and other things about myself (guilt be gone). I blog a bit about balance, and I think this age definately feels like its smack in the middle of hopefully a pretty long life - not young anymore, not too old. Are things still possible, or is it not really worth bothering?. I actually think these early (OK mid) forties are the the best time as we balance the years of experience behind us with the years of possibility ahead. I reckon you have two choices - totally let go of any concerns about your sticky-out ear, or do somethng about it. Just don't die 44 years from now with regret.

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  32. My mother had bands on her crossed teeth in her mid-40s and has smiled in photos for the last 28 years, but never before then.

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Thanks! Love hearing from you.

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