When I was a kid I thought when you turned fifty you were ancient. I thought no way will I ever be that old. Then in my twenties, fifty was old but I thought ok, this might happen, not like I might never get there. Then in my thirties, I began to warm to the idea that we all grow old and I had met my fair share of fifty-somethings and it didn’t seem so bad. The kids grew up and had moved on, plenty of time for themselves. Right?
Well, now that I’m about to turn fifty I don’t like it. It’s not the freeing fun loving time in my life I thought it would be. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about it.
I remember when Oprah turned fifty. She celebrated it in grand fashion. Had a big show, gave away a bunch of stuff, and then had a star-studded party all as she proclaimed how amazing it was to be fifty. She explained to her audience how this is the time when you no longer care what people think about you. You become self-assured, love yourself, and are free of societal judgments.
I remember when my own mother turned fifty. She didn’t seem to mind too terribly much. And as I go through the long list of strong, amazing women in my life to reach this particular milestone, I try and reflect on how they reacted or seemed to manage this hill. I can say that not one showed any particular dread in it. They might have been hiding it, but I really think most of these amazing women were good with it or even embraced it.
My Reality With Turning Fifty
I hate this. In my mind, I’m twenty-eight years old, young, enthusiastic about life, and beautiful. In reality, my body parts have added some padding and have shifted south, as they tend to do. I ache all over in places I never knew I had. When I climb out of bed I sound like Rice Krispies. The after-forty weight gain has struck me hard and has remained stubbornly in place. Never in my wildest ideas did I think I would turn fifty, this has to be a bad dream.
I don’t feel like celebrating. I mourn the loss of my youth, my kids being babies who needed me. What I didn’t expect, after years of being a stay-at-home mom, is this feeling of having nothing to offer, now that my kids are grown. But, I think the hardest part about turning fifty is this expectation that I let go of the societal pressures put on women about how we look. That it’s the beginning of not giving a fuck about what people think of you.
I can tell you this, I did not get that whole self-assured, nothing anyone can say to me will upset this apple cart “vibe.” I have always been the kind of person who says what she thinks. However, I am also the person who is incredibly hard on myself. I judge myself as a wife, a mother, and a sexual being. Have I wasted my youth on what society thinks we should do, and not what I wanted to do?
I do not regret my children or the amazing life I have built with my husband. Sometimes though, I think about what I had planned for after high school. The travel, college, experiences. How I fell victim to societal norms and left my dreams behind.
Is it too Late?
I have to say, I don’t think it is ever too late to reach for your dreams, or to write that novel, or travel the world. In fact, it might even be a bit easier at this ripe old age of fifty. You’re more likely to have the means and the time. So what am I doing to ease this “pain” of turning fifty? I found this great website to give me some great ideas on how to help with this transition.
I have been searching my feelings on the subject. I am trying to figure out the reasons I dread it so much. So I ask myself a few simple questions. For example, who do I know who has turned fifty? What are they like, and how have their lives changed? If at all.
I have also been looking at ways to keep myself young and engaged, by trying new activities and moving as much as possible. My husband and I have taken up pickleball. It’s much easier on your body than tennis and just as much fun!
Journaling is another really great way to work through your feelings. Take stock of your accomplishments and really revel in how you have contributed to the people around you.
The last extremely helpful action I have taken is to set goals. Big goals! I have set fun goals, career goals, family goals, and some health goals as well. This has helped me look to the future and find hope in the fact that fifty isn’t the end – its only another chapter.
Hold Your Head Up and Turn Fifty with Love and Forgiveness
I think that I had stopped trying to strive for more, to find purpose. In my forties, I coasted through never really expecting much from life. Now that my kids are mostly gone I have to focus on myself and what I want from life. Turning fifty just brings the future into focus and forces you to look at what you want to leave in the world and how you want the last part of your life to go. Make sure you stay connected to people you love and find new openings to make friends.
Listen, if you are lucky enough to have made it this far in life then count your blessings and look forward to the future. Your life isn’t over yet. Not by a long shot!
Here are a couple more articles on aging from The We Spot that you might like;