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My Awkward Aging Story: How Denial Played a Trick on Me

By Nicole Christina December 02, 2018 Mindset

I hate to brag, but I consider myself a world-class thrifter and consignment shop guru. It’s all I can do to contain myself when a psychotherapy client tells me about their thrifting adventures – I want to trade stories of our conquests and even run up to my closet for a quick show and tell.

Luckily, I have been able to resist that urge in my 28 or so years of being a psychotherapist. I did have an awkward moment when I realized my client was wearing a pair of shoes I had consigned earlier that season.

She was showing them off, and it occurred to me that situations like these were never discussed in grad school seminars on how to be an effective psychotherapist.

My Favorite Shop

So, with my passion for all things thrifty, it’s very fortunate that there’s a lovely, classy, cheerful consignment shop not far from my home. The shop owner, Fran, has a great eye and even brings back treasures when she travels to Italy to visit her family.

Fran only accepts stylish clothes that are often more fashion-forward than I can pull off comfortably. She works with my quiet style. She has dressed me for events, and sometimes I realize that every single piece of clothing I am wearing is from her shop.

I was on a local TV show recently and thought it appropriate that there should be some kind of caption: Clothes Provided by EcoChic Boutique Consignment. You probably don’t see that too often.

How Could I Resist?

A few days ago, I found myself in Fran’s lovely shop, looking through the dedicated Eileen Fisher rack. Picking up some great wardrobe staples, I went up to the register to pay.

A flash of color grabbed my eye. A bucket handbag in an impossibly vibrant and beautiful shade of lilac stared back at me. Was it… pebbled leather? With a slouchy boho shape? I asked Fran to bring it down from the shelf. I was getting a little breathless.

Fran stated knowingly, “This is such a Nicole color.” Indeed. Almost everything she’s sold me is black or a version of plum.

Yes, It’s Real Leather

Did I need a new purse? Of course not. I’m loving my new modified minimalist lifestyle of less is more. I’m preaching the benefits of non-consumption. And yet. I looked at the price tag. $45. For a Coach leather satchel?

It looked new! It must be synthetic. I asked Fran about the quality. She was a bit taken back. “Yes,” she said, with a confused look on her face. “It’s real Italian great quality leather.” You know what came next.

Do the Math

As she was ringing up my purchases, I was surprised by the total, which was higher than I expected. I kept adding up the items in my head, which is not that effective when you have an undocumented learning disability in math. I couldn’t figure out why the total got so high. It felt a bit unsettling.

I trundled back to my car, accompanied by my lovely lilac slouchy bag, and took out my dime store reading glasses. No. Lovely bag was not $45. It was $95. My denial about needing reading glasses got the best of me. It wasn’t the first time.

What Happened?

Why didn’t I use my readers? Was it laziness? Embarrassment? Pride? Facing the truth that my eyes, which have always been great, are aging?

I got my great eyesight from my dad, and I’ve been proud of it; it’s served me very well. It’s one thing to get grey hair, but to start losing your eyesight is really tough for me to accept.

But I better find a way, unless I want to end up buying many more purses!

What’s the trickiest part of aging for you? Have you had any surprise symptoms? Do share your stories in the comments below.

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The Author

Nicole Christina, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and the host of the acclaimed podcast ZestfulAging (, which is heard in 89 countries around the world. Find out more about Nicole at

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