I was sitting in the chair getting my eyes checked when the doctor said I should consider readers. He said most people need them by the time they are 40 and I had clearly passed that at being 47. It was time though he softly said. Inside I was wanting to cry at this message. How did this happen? When did I become old enough for things I told myself I would never need? There it was though, me ordering a 5 pack of readers from Amazon having to face the fact I was getting a little older in life.
At first I avoided it and refused to talk about it. There are still times I do that. It’s hard to admit you’ve reached certain times in your life that designate you as something like older. It usually is not said as a badge of honor either. I still have so much I want to do in life and don’t have time for slowing down or changing something because of my age. Avoiding it though does not make it any less real so in my usual rebel heart approach to life I decided to look it in the eye straight.
In approaching 50, I realized job discrimination is still pretty rampant. Women are still paid much less than men on the dollar. Yet, when you reach around 50 jobs become harder and harder to find. You are seen as over qualified and too expensive. You are no longer a cheap college graduate who wants to work non-stop to make a name for themselves either. This is true at least for me. In working up to this point I have come to realize no corporate job actually appreciates those hours you put in and all you ever really accomplish in doing it is health and mental well-being problems from the abuse and stress. Most of the time it takes us getting to near 50 to understand this too.
At this age we are still very much working though we are thinking what else that could look like. For me, I definitely have no desire to continue in the big corporate space pursuing someone else’s defined goals for my performance and success. It is no longer satisfying for me to be honest. While I have had this feeling for a long time it took me getting a little older to say it out loud. The mid-life crisis is real when it comes to how we work. A lot of my friends are also saying it is time for them to consider changes in their work to this level too. If there was some sage advice I could give to my younger self it would be to pursue entrepreneurialism earlier in my career and to stop believing the lies they tell you in corporations to get more out of you for nothing in return. Build your own dreams outside of that space as much as you can.
The other thing I realize at this point in my life is much of what we feel is important when we’re younger is usually not. The standards by which we define our life milestones is bogus. There are important things to do in life and experiences that are worth pursuing but doing them on some proverbial timeline is where we mess up. The freedom in life is getting to choose what is right for us when but most of us don’t know how to handle that so we fall back on this pre-defined guide for living well. Go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, buy a house. All great things to do in life but what if our journey is more zig zag than that? What if we adopt children when we are older or we build a dream and find a partner to share it with along the way? Letting go of this preconceived notion there is one formula for living well is a big life lesson.
In my own life, I see the guilt I used to feel for not having children earlier in life. I was failing at life because I wasn’t a mom when all my friends were having babies. Yet I would not trade a single moment of when we found our son and adopted him. I was 40 and he was 2. That moment was the most beautiful moment of my entire life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The fact he came later in my life makes it even more special to me. Letting go and letting life unfold based on where our hearts lead us is where we learn to live the most.
Too much of my time was spent seeking love and inclusion rather than learning to love myself. We feel like we are doing something wrong if we’re doing it differently than others. Having the openness to see that is not the case and letting our life flow as is right for us is one of the best ways we can honor ourselves. Learning to love ourselves is one of life’s most precious lessons and it is not time bound to occur by a certain age. I am more at peace with myself at almost 50 than I have ever been in my life before because I have let go of thinking there is only one way to have love in my life.
When you catch yourself staring down age 50 unafraid you realize how in control of your life you have always been. Certainly there’s been a lot of things in life that I didn’t feel in control of and still don’t but that’s the trick to it all. Finding out what you do control and making it distinctively your own. When you break it all down we are in complete control of a whole lot more than we give ourselves credit for every day. Unfortunately it took to getting to almost 50 to see most of that. The blessing in it though is you see things wildly different and can make the changes necessary to make the rest of your life beautiful and uniquely your own.
Now that I know though you can bet regardless of my age, I won’t be relinquishing the controls anymore. In approaching 50 I see the challenge in not settling in life and just taking what comes but rather in making my own path now. The freedom to take my life and live it as I want and need for my own growth has always been possible. I just didn’t know how to do it. I may be staring down the barrel at a new age considered an over the hill event but I prefer to see it as a clear sight line to my goals and dreams being able to be true reality.
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