It’s a strange feeling. Turning 50 is so laden with cultural connotations of a life half over, an approaching retirement and becoming increasingly less significant in our youth-obsessed world. But I’m not feeling any of this.
Admittedly I am more concerned now than ever before about the prospect of declining health as I age. But this is motivating me to eat better, drink less alcohol (a work in progress) and improve my fitness. These can’t be bad things after all.
I’m not worried about the cliché of the invisible older woman. Perhaps my more introvert leaning personality is happy to be away from the spotlight of youth. In reality though, I don’t actually feel invisible. My mature middle age self is more confident and assertive than ever before. I have faith in my own decisions (generally) and I don’t mind if others disagree. My wavy silver white hair which I gave up dying a couple of years ago attracts more compliments than my blond bob ever did. I am accepting of my curvy figure and don’t feel the need to look like someone I’m genetically never going to be. I have the confidence to wear the clothes I love, regardless of fashion or their supposed suitability. And at last I am accepting of the fact that I am not the career-driven woman I once thought I should be (and I felt was expected of me). Climbing the corporate ladder doesn’t interest me, and now I am grown up enough to understand that this is okay – probably the most liberating change that has come with the wisdom of midlife.
I love that I’m still with my partner of 27 years. We have a wonderful shared history. We spent our twenties traveling and partying, our thirties and forties parenting and building a business, and I can’t wait to find out what we do with our fifties. He’s seen me at my best, and he’s seen me at my absolute worst. He knew both my wonderful parents and he held me tight when each of them died. We belly laugh often and we occasionally argue loud, but not nearly as often as we used to. And over the years we’ve learnt to accept each other for who we are and to recover from those increasingly rare arguments fast.
There are many things I wish I had done differently in my first half century, but I can now accept my mistakes for what they are. I accept that I can’t change my past, only shape my future. There are many things I still want to do with my life and I’m looking forward to them all.
Turning 50 is liberating. I can be my true self. I feel calm and grounded. At last I feel like a proper grown up – and I really like that.