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This I Believe: I Believe in Wrinkles

Lily Braasch midshot
Beatrice Bonner
/
NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS
Lily Braasch - Litchfield High School

My biology teacher recently taught me that wrinkles form from the breaking down of collagen. Scientifically, she is right, but respectfully, I have to disagree. We rarely hear anyone talk about wrinkles in a positive way. It’s either, “I look so old,” or “I’m going to need Botox.” Not many see them as beautiful, but I do.

When I was younger, I used to play with the wrinkles of my grandmother’s hands and formed what I liked to call, “mountains.” I remember thinking how I couldn’t wait to have all the same creases and folds in my hands as hers. How beautiful they were, and how plain my smooth skin was.

Not only was I confused the first time I heard someone say how they hope they never get wrinkles, but I was offended. I was bewildered why anyone wouldn’t want to have the same “mountains” as my role model. This wasn’t the last time I heard someone say this though, and every time I did, I reflected on all the times I’ve been in the sun without reapplying sunscreen, or the constant frowning I do. I instantly regretted thinking like this because I never saw my grandma’s wrinkles as ugly or as something she should hide. She never was ashamed of growing older, and I knew this because every time I would form the “mountains” on her hands, she would tell me stories from her youth to her 50s, and everything in between. When she would do this, I believe we both had a mutual understanding that these very wrinkles on her hands didn’t equal embarrassment, but that they equaled life. She was proud of the creases on her skin, and wanted to make sure that one day I would be equally proud of my own.

In every fold of every wrinkle, I believe there is love, sadness, joy, and so much more embedded in between. Wrinkles are signs of life lived — signs that you have experienced the highs and lows of simply existing. Some people don’t ever get the chance to see their own or tell stories to their granddaughters of the beautiful life they’ve experienced. Which is why no one should ever take these extraordinary features of themselves for granted. I would give anything to see my grandma again and hear all the stories from her past once more. Though I wish I had more time with her, I am so appreciative that I was able to have 10 amazing years of forming “mountains” of life on her hands, which is why I believe wrinkles are simply beautiful.

This I Believe Illinois is NPR Illinois' annual essay program for Illinois high school seniors. An expression of where their minds are as they prepare to enter the adult world. This I Believe was started by radio journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1951 to allow anyone able to distil the guiding principles by which they lived. Special thank you to our sponsors: The Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise, State Journal-Register, BLH Computers, KEB, Marine Bank, and Roni Mohan of RE/MAX Professionals Springfield.

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