One of the best features I’ve read so far on confronting 50 is HERE in the Observer. Written by Mariella Frostrup, it sums up beautifully what any of us heading – or passing – that way are thinking.
There is something very disconcerting about the milestone of 50 and the realisation that unless you have outstanding genes, you have more behind you than you have ahead. Has the path of acceptance got more difficult? I think back to my mother who actually couldn’t wait to be older than her years; she saw middle life as the path to dressing in Jaeger (more suitable and sensible) and I cannot remember her once – even though she is well into her seventies – wishing her youth back. Not once.
Which makes me wonder if it’s a generational thing. My fifty is not hers – she would like me to cut off my hair and have it short (more appropriate for my age apparently) and to head to the nearest Windsmoor concession for a practical but pretty skirt. That’s how she sees 50. To her, my 50 is mutton dressed as lamb – she nearly passed out at my leather leggings – but far from trying to beat my age, that’s just how I’ve always dressed, and will continue to do so until it doesn’t feel right for me any more. I won’t even start on my leopard print shirt – but a barmaid was mentioned!
So, while my 50 has endless possibilities and I’m constantly thinking I’m not doing enough, seeing enough, hearing enough, buying enough, working enough etc, hers was a more constrained path that I now think was easier to accept than ours is now. It’s all very well to view the opportunities of middle life as a playground, and goodness aren’t we lucky that we can become entrepreneurs, senior gap year travellers, captains of industry and – of course – fashion icons, meanwhile, walking the dog, shopping in Tesco and arranging for the window cleaner to come, the lack of expectation for my mother’s later years relied on a sense of the order of life. And we don’t have that anymore.
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