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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You have hit the nail on the head good and proper! Is it okay to say that at ten years older than you, I’m in the leather-legging brigade? Is it okay to say, that after years and years of short, cropped hair, at 60, it’s longer than it’s been since I was 18? I’m not trying to claw back the years, I just think, well, why not, let’s see how this goes! Two years ago I did a tandem paraglide in the French Alps: basically, I jumped off a mountain. It was amazing. If I think I can do it, wear it, say it, I jolly well will. My great grandmother and namesake lived till she was very nearly 105. Should I be worried, I wonder? Excellent post, as always, Jane honey. x
It’s okay! All of it!
I remember when 40 was old too. Thankful the prison gates of other ppls expectations are being broken down!
This begs another question; why don’t we have that sense of order? Certainly life isn’t the predictable path it may once have been for women. We live longer, enjoy better health and have choices with regards to work and relationships that may not have been there for our mothers and grandmothers.
But it seems to me that we’re made to feel that we’re letting down the side if we aren’t doing something “meaningful” at every stage of life.
Its like you must be defying the years and dare not flag. I’m all for choices. If you want to go out and rule the world while wearing a leopard print mini, trophy husband/toy boy in the passenger side of your Jag convertible, I say whoo-rah! You go for it. But if you’d rather cut your hair, cut back on the energy sapping hours your career demands and enjoy your grand babies, then you shouldn’t be made to feel that you are becoming an old woman.
I’m 45 this month. 20 years ago I thought that was impossibly old!! Now I feel no different to then, other than more settled in my own skin.
“Do not regret aging, it’s a privilege denied to many” is so true. We all get older, the only ones forever young died young, and each one of them is a tragedy.
I think the key is to embrace ageing and look the best you can – and that’s where taking care of ones skin comes in.
I’m 50 next week and I’m dreading it. If one more person asks me “what are you dig to celebrate?” I think I’ll scream. I’m going to lock myself away and cry……
Absolutely nothing to cry about! Buy a new lipstick – or ten! xx
At 46, 50 seemed forever away. Now having turned 47 this month, I think I’ll blink and be 50. And I do wonder if I’m not doing “enough”. What is enough? Who sets the bar? What if I don’t measure up? I’m also dealing with difficult health issues, it is daunting some days. But I’m thankful to be living now rather than in 1915.
Taking care of my skin has become increasingly important to me as it is something that I can control right now. And yes, a new lipstick or ten does brighten my day! Make up is the armor that I meet the world with.