Nothing makes you feel quite as grown up as signing your will. That’s what I did recently, just shy of my 50th birthday. For so many years, I’ve been anticipating my 50th more than any other year. It seemed to me to be the age at which women are truly free. Certainly freer from parenting responsibilities, self-doubt and body image issues.
But the closer I get to fifty, the less enthusiastic I feel. At fifty, I am a different demographic. I check a different box. All around me I see the optimism—“50 and fabulous”. “50 is the new 40” And now, if recent research holds true, sixty, not fifty, is now considered middle-aged. But suppose 50 isn’t fabulous? Suppose 50 is the new 50? For the most part, 50 looks good. Brooke Shields, Viola Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker. But I’m finding fifty has another, not so pretty face. Sure, fifty is freedom, confidence, self-awareness and strength but 50 is also, signing a will, burying a parent,attending the high school and college graduations of your children, getting a colonoscopy and root canals. getting a stress fracture in your ankle from running around a track and the orthopedist suggesting that a woman your age should no longer be running, but doing aqua aerobics. Some mornings I wake up and wonder, didn’t I just graduate from college?
The truth is that turning fifty is less about the sadness of what was left behind but the fear of what lies ahead. My 20s were blurred by newfound freedom and ambition. My 30’s, a rush of diapers and childcare. My late 40’s found me reclaiming some portions of self while carving out more time as a writer. I don’t ever want to revisit my 20’s (well, maybe some portions), but I wouldn’t mind a bit of that fearlessness. That confidence that life will work out exactly the way I’d hoped.
What will the 50’s hold? Who knows, but based on intensive research, I’ve compiled a list of the best things about turning 50.
- You have a half century of friendships.
- You get to say things like “half a century.”
- You were there for the advent of rap and disco.
- You were the beneficiary of Title IX, cable tv, the internet, satellite radio, yet you still know how to play a record, operate a VCR and write a letter.
The good news is that I have a few friends who are younger, several my age, but for the most part, my friends are older which means I get a front row seat for my future self. And from what I can tell, it’s an active, strong, balanced life full of many of life’s greatest pleasures….and colonoscopies.
Please add to the list of the best things about turning fifty.