My 50th birthday marked a horrible turning point for me. I couldn’t be 50. That’s old…and I’m not old. I don’t feel old, I don’t look old.
But everyone thinks 50 is old (including me at the time). I bought into the false, societal belief that once you hit 50, your life is on the downslide. To make matters worse, I wasn’t even in a relationship. Talk about a downer!
Who wants a 50-year-old woman?
OMG, I fully embraced the “50-and-over-the-hill” label with all its limitations. One of the worst came with a special warning for women about the urgent need to start planning for their inevitable descent into retirement.
Thankfully, I didn’t succumb to a deep depression. Yet even though I continued to work because I enjoyed it, the over-50 label haunted me. When people would “dare” ask how old I was, I would lie. Yes, I would. And I felt good about lying because I didn’t “look it” or “feel it” (whatever one is supposed to look and feel at 50); therefore, I could get away with it. OK, I’ll make another confession: I even lied about my age when I set up my first Facebook and Google+ account, too.
What I didn’t realize over the next few years was that I wasn’t really having much fun. Even though my self-talk stalwartly remained the “I don’t accept the over-50 your life is going down label,” being over 50 adversely affected my life, albeit in a sneaky way. I felt as if I was doing what I wanted to do despite my age, but whenever I paused to consider whether I felt alive, happy, and excited to learn new things, every fiber of my being responded “no.” Looking back, I’m certain my friends suspected something was off, but being a strong-willed person, I could convince them otherwise with two simple words: “I’m fine.”
Years later (yes, years later), I still don’t like to reveal my age, nor do I look or act it. But I’ve developed a whole new attitude about being a member of the over-50 club. Part of that involves taking classes, going out more, and generally embracing new knowledge and experiences whenever and wherever possible.
Somewhere along my journey, I realized that the 50-plus label simply did not fit me or many of my friends. Then it dawned on me: our generation boldly defied the profile and label of previous generations. We had redefined the meaning of being a woman over 50 – we were energetic, full of life, and grateful for the wisdom that comes from a half-century’s worth of experience.
Culturally, however, the old label persists. Well, I believe it’s time to shift that in a big way. I’m not old, nor am I willing to resign myself to a boring routine of staying inside and watching TV every day.
I don’t think I’m alone, either.
Yes, I am over 50…and I want to help other women who may be trapped in the hopelessness of society’s stale, outdated outlook. Please don’t waste the years I did fighting it, especially when labels don’t work for anyone. As individuals, each of us is unique and special. Every one of us can do whatever we believe we can do…and age doesn’t have a damn thing to do with it.
It’s true: we are all greatly influenced by the media and by what our peers say and believe, even to this day. But, notice the key word here, “believe.” You are what you believe. It’s up to us to hold empowering beliefs to create the shift in ourselves and our culture.
Who’s with me?
I’m still working and creating Journey of the Inspired Woman because I want to generate the awareness needed to expire the labels that have long outgrown their usefulness. The ones that many of us have allowed to hold us back. Just as importantly, I want to support women in the process.
My vision is for JOIW to give women a place to communicate with new friends; learn more about health and happiness tools and techniques; interact with a friendly, online support network; and participate in both offline and in-person events.
If I’d had a place like this to come to I would have experienced much more joy over the past 10 years. While I can’t reclaim lost time, from now on I want to live life to the fullest and continue to challenge myself.