My 5 Favorite Things about being over 50
Being older can be the beginning....not the end!
As I've gotten older I've found that I am happier. Perhaps, it's more of a sense of contentment that I've come into as the years tick by and add up.
There is something beautiful that happens the longer we exist. A coming into one's own if you will. There is no rushing this process; it comes over the course of time and experience.
There is no better time to be over fifty! This is the Baby Boomer generation; the largest growing population in the world! We are the people that propel advertising and decisions and we should be embracing this fact, not being sorry for having gotten a bit softer around the middle, or for having gray hair or wrinkled skin.
I figure that I've earned every wrinkle, and gray hair. Through laughter and tears we have lines that show what we've been through. We can waste time despairing for our firmer figures of our youth, or we can embrace our growing compassion and wisdom of years spent loving and learning.
As I've gone through life, I find that I am feeling more in touch with the person that I am and finding that there is so much potential left to become even more of the person that I want to be.
Rather than see this era of my late fifties as a time to slow down and settle in, I'm finding myself stimulated anew to try new things and move my life in a new direction.
Might you be ignoring some of the positive's that are inherent in aging, because you are preoccupied with the negative's? Let's explore some of the truly wonderful aspects about growing older and see if you too might embrace this journey!
My first reason to embrace aging is that it is a gift! We must never take for granted our longevity. Today is the only day we know for certain is ours; tomorrow is not promised and not a given. Thus, we must embrace each day we wake up with a beating heart for we now have the choice to live our lives to the fullest.
I suppose one of my favorite things about my life as I get older is simply that over time I really know who I am! There is no short cut to this kind of self awareness; it comes over time and having lived and learned through mistakes and through successes.
The beauty of this self knowledge is the freedom that it begets. When you truly know what makes you happy; and of course, what makes you unhappy; you are in the Driver's seat of your life! You can make choices that will enhance your life and save you a lot of grief and wasted time in the process.
Though we inhabit our skin from the day of birth until the day we part this earthly plane, we are often so caught up in the business of living as to not really appreciate what makes us the unique beings we are.
After a half century or longer of living, one does come into themselves. By this I mean, that there is a certain shorthand that we develop about our life journey and how we want it to look. We can't always know these things as a younger, developing person, but with time we can really figure out how to make ourselves happy. It is a lovely process of self evolution to get comfortable about yourself and make decisions accordingly.
For instance, I spent years of my life feeling self conscious about my appearance. As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate the woman behind the face in the mirror. It can be difficult to look past the physical surface and see into your heart and soul. But as you age, you can find the person inside and form a loving relationship with them. The best way to love others is to first love yourself. This can be a challenge for many of us, and I'm certainly a good example of coming a bit late to the party of self love.
But, with time and practice you can truly learn to appreciate yourself as you would a loved one in your family or your friends. When you start to love yourself it will generate a lot of positive growth toward your own life and allow you to more fully love others.
Maslow had his list of the stages of life culminating in "Self Actualization". I'm not certain if one is every fully self actualized, but it's a wonderful goal. In it's place, self awareness is a fairly attainable goal and one that makes getting older much more welcome than staying stuck in old patterns of our younger lives.
I'm using the term freedom fairly loosely here. I mean to say that as we get older we can free ourselves of so many of the things that tied us down in our earlier lives.
I'm thinking of the freedom to try to please people; the freedom of being a conformist and fitting in; the freedom perhaps of earning an income and the freedom from trying to fit in with a work place or social group.
As we get older, we can let go of those needs we had to conform or belong. Not entirely, of course. At any age it's still important to feel valued and to feel a sense of belonging. But, we can let go of feeling like we have to be like everybody else. Or perhaps we can be freed of the worry of achieving in terms of education or income.
Certainly, not all people over 50 will find that they no longer need to worry about an income. That is a very individual situation, and one that may elude people well into their sixties and even beyond.
But along with self awareness comes a sense of not having to prove anything. We've gotten an education, probably had a job or a career, and possibly we've raised a family. We've maybe had a marriage (or two....or more) and we've probably belonged to a few groups socially.
As we get older we can find ourselves feeling less challenged by trying to fit in with society and come to feel more comfortable in living our lives as we see fit.
When we are younger there is so much competition to earn enough, have the same kinds of material possessions your peer group has; to travel and experience all the finer things in life. We can give ourselves permission at a certain point in life to simply be the people we have grown into. There can be less stress of trying to "keep up with the Jones'es" and more willingness to march to one's own drummer.
I've found this time of life to be very freeing. I'm much less concerned about wearing the latest fashions and more interested in dressing for my body and my style. It's less interesting to me to know what the people in Hollywood are up to and more interesting to know what's going on in my own neighborhood!
I no longer am concerned with having the latest style of shoes, but really happy to find shoes that are comfortable yet still stylish. The priorities shift and this can be a time of greater happiness as you tie your pleasures to your own needs and not to conforming to some societal ideal.
#3 Being a Grandparent
I waited what felt like a life time to be a Grandmother. I had my own children while very young. I recall telling them to please not make me a Grandmother before I turned forty.
Well, as it turned out I was not a Grandmother until I was in my late Fifties. I can say that it was worth the wait! I had heard how amazing and wonderful and transformative it was to be a grandparent, but only upon this happening in my life did I understand just how true it all was!
I have contemplated at length why there is this extra feeling of deep love that as a Grandparent we feel for our grandchildren. I think that there are several factors; one being that we already love our child, then the child has their own child and we just build on that love exponentially!
My other thought is that we are not the primary person responsible for the care of this new life. We are there to love and cherish this new person, but they have parents who will do the caretaking and worrying. This frees up the grandparent to just feel love, love and more love for this new precious bundle.
I recall feeling so overwhelmed with love for my precious Granddaughter that it nearly took my breath away. She is approaching her second birthday and that love has only grown deeper. I am fortunate to live in the same neighborhood as my family, so I am able to see my granddaughter several times a week. I get to sit with her often as I'm self employed and have deliberately left my schedule open enough to be able to spend ample time with her.
Those of you who have been blessed by Grandparenthood will understand what I'm talking about as you no doubt cherish your grandchildren and your role in being the grandparent.
It's so much more fun than being a parent was. I'm not knocking parenthood as I loved the experience of raising my children! Well, if I'm honest, those teenage years were less about enjoyment and more about keeping us all alive! But, I did enjoy the overall experience of parenthood and was so happily surprised at how wonderful this gift of being a Grandparent is!
Not everybody has children, and of course not all of us will know the joys of being a grandparent. But for me, it's definitely worth being over 50 or even over 80! It has been one of the finest experiences of my life and it only grows richer over time.
#4-The Chance to create a Meaningful Second Chapter
I'm speaking of life in terms of a book. The first chapter is all about you growing up, becoming a self supporting adult, creating a family and working toward retirement.
Chapter two can be anything you want it to be! For me, I have an entirely new direction my life path is taking me on and couldn't be more happy for it.
I spent the first chapter of my life as a Nurse. I'm proud of the career I built and for having served people for over thirty years of my life. But, I left that career and went on to do other things. Things that perhaps I would never have dreamt I'd be doing, but am doing them nonetheless.
I worked as a veterinary technician in a third world country. Then I trained to be a Health Coach and have spent the past two years helping people create their own best health and life balance. I added writer to my list of jobs and now write articles with regularity.
And my latest second chapter addition is that of becoming a Docent at my local art museum. If anybody had told me that I'd do one of these things, let alone all of them, I'd have scoffed! None of these ideas ever occurred to me during the phase of life where I had to work to support a family.
But, now I can devote my time and my energy to an entirely new set of pursuits! Yes, one can make these shifts at any time in the lifespan, but there is something about being in later life that affords a new sense of freedom.
It's been wonderful for me to find a whole group of people in my age group that are out there trying on new pursuits right along with me! I see people joining groups and trying out new things like meditation, cooking classes, art classes and more.
One of the benefits about being over 50 in today's world is that there are seemingly endless opportunities for growth!
Not only does AARP bring light to the value of aging adults, but other groups are taking notice as well. Here in Phoenix there is a group called Experience Matters, that is completely devoted to finding work and volunteer opportunities for the over 50 crowd to work with non profit organizations.
There is no better time than now to be an aging adult in the United States! There are people out there that actively will pursue you for the qualities you can bring to the table! You are not being looked at as a deficit, but as an asset!
I have been delightedly surprised to find myself surrounded by some pretty amazing people in the second chapters of their lives. Together we are all finding that life is pretty damn awesome even in our "twilight" years.
#5-You've got a large Peer Group
The largest segment of American society is the over 50 population! It is actually "in" and "cool" to be a graying, aging member of society! At no time in history has being over 50 been such a positive experience!
I feel fortunate to be a baby boomer, though I am considered a "late" boomer. If one has to get older, there is no better time for it to happen.
When I go to the museum for my Docent classes, I'm so comforted to be among a room full of my peers in age and status. To be a part of the Experience Matters group has been comforting as well as it's all people over the age of 50.
Just as we felt comforted to find people of our own age on the first day of school, or in college, or at other junctures of life, it is equally important as we age to feel we have a peer group. It is lovely to find other people who are perhaps experiencing aging as a normal process and not something to run from. I have peers who continue to exercise and stay sharp and well dressed. Some people color their hair; some people let the gray take over. Some folks wear makeup and dress in a trendy style, while others may be a bit dated in appearance but are comfortable in their own skin.
Growing up the saying was "don't trust anyone over 30" and now it's the people over 30 who are being wooed by advertisers, medical providers and more! The biggest spenders are the over 50 group, so their opinions matter! While youth will always have it's place, the Senior's are having an equally important role in making life meaningful and contributing to society.
It's been very heartening to find myself accepted as a viable and valued member of society and not to feel shut out of life because of my age.
Oh, I'd be lying if I didn't admit to feeling wistful about my firmer skin, or being able to stay up all night without suffering for it. But, I would never go back to being thirty in exchange for the more youthful physique! I would much rather have my brain at the age it is, having fully experienced life and having grown beyond the more ego centered younger years. And, if you spend a lot of your time with fellow seniors, you will learn to see the beauty in your aging body and your less than taut skin! Eyes still sparkle, and sex appeal still exists; these are not bastions of only the youthful!
Take heart and embrace your aging with grace! The only alternative to aging is death....not such a great alternative. Recognize that you have value at any age and find peers who celebrate their age and aren't complaining about aches and pains, but are out there living their lives!
You have so much to offer the world and the world needs you! It would be a sad world if everybody were the same, or if everybody was young. We need the diversity and experience that a life well lived brings to the table.
Be a game changer and create the kind of life that others look at and think "Gee, getting older doesn't seem so scary to me". For me, life just keeps getting better every day. I hope that is the case for you too!