How Turning 50 Transformed My Life
Why I have no more f*ucks to give, and the lessons I wish I’d learned decades earlier.
You dread the idea of turning 50. It took you a total of 2 seconds to come to that conclusion. Plus, you know you’re not the only woman in the world who feels this way. Nobody in their right mind would really buy into all that ’50 and Fabulous’…for lack of a better word…stuff, right?
You spent the last several decades rushing through life, getting your career on the right track, meeting the perfect guy, getting married and starting a family, and juggling all the responsibilities that come with being a mature adult. But once you turn 50, you’re no longer sexy, interesting, ambitious, or needed – or at least that’s how I felt.
A little side note, I personally have nothing against older women dating younger men, and I have friends who swear by this ‘practice’, but I needed something deeper because I was facing a full-blown mid-life crisis.
We’ve been raised to believe that women reach their prime in their late 30s. That’s when they’re the most successful, confident, fulfilled and attractive (I wonder if the ‘confident’ part has anything to do with that?).
Past the age of 50, what’s left to accomplish? We can’t turn back time, choose a different path, be someone other than who we already are or fulfill any of our childhood fantasies. What we can do is start binge-watching Antiques Roadshow, sit around and wait for our kids to remember to call, or become cat ladies if they never do.
This is precisely why so many of us absolutely dread the thought of entering our 50s. When you toss your friends into the equation who’re so insistent on throwing you an insanely elaborate birthday bash just to get your mind off the fact you’ve reached the end of the road, it’s no wonder you want to curl under the bed covers and sleep the day off. Or the rest of your life, for that matter.
But let me tell you something. I turned 50 four years ago, and life has never been better.
Sure, in my 20s I loved the freedom that came with broadening my horizons at the university coupled with pockets deeper than ever thanks to my first ‘real’ job, and little to no responsibility.
In my 30s, I met the man who would later become my husband and give me two beautiful children, and raising them and watching them grow into the people they are today gave me unthinkable joy.
In my 40s, I settled into my career and spent every waking hour that I could being a good wife and mother, which has paid off already when I look at my kids and see how happy they are with their lives.
Overall, I’ve been happy for as long as I can remember, or so I thought, so why did I let turning 50 bother me so much? Was it my dry hair, my crow’s feet, the fact that my kids didn’t need me anymore?
I’ll tell you exactly what it was.
It was the fact that for as long as I can remember I sought approval from everyone but myself. First I sought approval from my parents, then my friends, then all the men that came and went through my life, then my boss, then my husband and kids, then our society as a whole. Literally every living and breathing thing other than me.
And then it hit me.
There is absolutely no way in hell you can be content in your 50s unless you forgive yourself. We can only be truly free when we let go of all the expectations others are imposing on us. This is what I want to share with you. I want to tell you how I learned to seek approval only from myself, and how I realized I had no more f*ucks to give.
For the better part of my life, I did lots of things that were bad for my health, such as not eating right or sleeping 5 hours a night. Healthy eating and sleeping were an indulgence that I really couldn’t afford — but no more! I embarked on a quest to change my daily routine and all those habits that made me look and feel tired. Physically, mentally, emotionally.
I sought the best information I could find on eating right and exercising on a regular basis for women past the age of 50. I contacted beauty experts and financial gurus. I hired a stylist and changed my hair. I learned new makeup tricks and exercises. For the first time in a long time, I walked the walk again. I started going for a jog every morning and learned how to exercise to strengthen my bones and joints and lower my risk of developing arthritis. I marked May 17 on my calendar as the day I would get a physical every year. I have yet to fall off that wagon. For the first time in my life, I finally stopped dieting. Instead, I started paying close attention to feeding my body the right nutrients. I gave up trying to grow my hair long and accepted the fact that it looks best short.
Four years after my 50th birthday bash, I feel healthier and more confident than ever. Actually, scratch that. I’m sure I felt better at 22, but that’s because I was full of life and hope. Now I’m full of this ridiculously consuming feeling that I’m finally free. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Being the best that you can be in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond ultimately comes down to growing and developing with every decade. Turning 50 isn’t any scarier than trying to land your first dream job or going into labor for the first time. We just forgot what those felt like. What is scary is being stuck in life or refusing to accept that change is an inevitable part of it.
Turning 50 isn’t about reaching the end of the road. It’s about discovering a new one, and I really hope that you’ll find the inspiration, energy, time, and strength to join me on the other side – the side where you’ll rediscover how great it is to finally be you again.