I celebrated my 53rd birthday a couple of weeks ago. FIFTY THREE! When I was in my teens and even in my 20’s, the thought of being in my 50’s was horrifying… and of course seemed such a long way away. But time flies, and in the blink of an eye, here I am… and do you know what? I am absolutely loving it!
So, I’m writing this post for anyone dreading the big 5-0. Honestly, there is really no need … read on and let me convince you.
Firstly, I like to think we are all less ageist than we were a generation or two ago. Being in your 50’s no longer means you have to wear a twin set and maintain a blue rinse, unless you want to of course. My daughter who is 20, asked me to explain a twin set and a blue rinse. I did, to the best of my ability, but found myself being unintentionally ageist myself: I mentioned the stigma of ageing and the expectation that this would possibly involve cruise ships, grey hair and sensible shoes. She looked at me askance. “But surely all those are a choice,” she said, “whatever age you are.” Too right!
OK, so I may have a few little aches and pains that I didn’t have a few years ago. I’m an ongoing challenge for my chiropractor who gamely grapples with my various neck, back and arm ailments. But generally, (touch wood), I’m pretty healthy, and for that I am extremely grateful. And interestingly, I don’t feel old physically. It’s difficult to say how old I do feel, as it differs day to day, but I don’t feel old. And I still wear a bikini. Even if it is not the teeny weeny kind.
I also don’t feel that my mental acumen has declined. I’m at the top of the tree in my company/ job, which is great, and well deserved I feel, after working my butt off for so many years, and yes, it is very pressurised, but my brain is coping very nicely thank you. Whenever I do forget something, I tell people I have simply too much information to hold in my head, rather than blame it on the forgetfulness of ageing. Interestingly, I don’t feel the need to apologise for myself as much as I used to.
I am not feeling desperate and lost now that the children have flown the nest. My son has recently gone to Canada for 2 years, (though he is planning to come back next summer for a holiday), while my daughter is starting her final year at university this autumn, and has told me in no uncertain terms, that she plans to make her home in London on graduating.
Seeing my kids turn into very cool people in their own right, has made me feel pretty good about myself. Yes, it was a struggle at times, but they have turned out really well into kind, strong, decent human beings, so their dad and I must have been doing something right.
I miss them and although I loved those growing up years, I can’t help feeling secretly relieved that the days of Easter bonnet making, the pressure and stress that World Book Day (and it’s costume requirements) brought, and the angst that accompanied various sports days, harvest festivals, assorted assemblies and Christmas shows which one had to attend. I loved watching my children perform of course, but was always slightly uncomfortable around the competitive mums, and because I wasn’t on the PTA, did the assisted reading or went on any of the school trips, I allowed myself to believe I wasn’t as good a mum as others. I can’t believe I ever thought that now!
So suddenly, the kids are in their 20’s and I’m in my 50’s. I (we) have a bit more money to spend, the mortgage end date is in sight, the holidays are becoming more frequent, and I’m optimistic about growing my blog and whatever that may bring.
On that front, I am still learning and growing. I look back with pride at this last year which was my first as a blogger, and all I learnt. This time last year I didn’t know what a retweet was, let alone a WordPress plugin. (OK, I still don’t really understand the plugin thing.)
Even the bizarre world of menopause hasn’t phased me yet, though I am blaming it for every slightly unusual thing that happens. For example, I had a rash on my neck yesterday. Menopause. ‘I’m a bit hot’. Menopause. ‘I’m chilly today’. Menopause. ‘My arm hurts’. Menopause. ‘I’m starving’. Menopause. ‘I have no energy’. Menopause. You get the idea. Thankfully I have discovered healthandher.com Go check it out! I love it, they offer expert menopausal advice, an amazing symptom checker and a wonderful shop full of helpful products.
According to research completed last year, our 50’s through to our 80’s are the happiest time of our lives. Jonathan Rauch, whose book The Happiness Curve – Why life gets better after 50, explains that in our twenties and thirties we are desperately trying to acquire all we think we should. Even when we do, we are not necessarily fulfilled, so imagine something is lacking. It is apparently very common to be over optimistic about our futures at that age, and we become ever more occupied with what we have not achieved, rather than what we have.
By the time we get to 50 however, this is no longer the case. We start to view our lives differently. I certainly feel less regret now for past mistakes, and at the same time, I have become a lot more thankful for all I have achieved. I am more optimistic about the future and my confidence and self esteem is higher than its ever been.
I asked a couple of friends what they liked about being 50, and the general consensus seems to be around not feeling the need to compare oneself to anyone else any longer, and feeling comfortable in one’s own skin. One friend even said “It’s fabulous! 50 is the new 34!” Wow! Does that mean 80 is the new 50?
Whatever you think, age is just a number and having read somewhere that the person who will live til 150 years old has now been born, my advice is, forget the number and live the life!❤️