I turn 50 this month. I started thinking about how to mark this milestone just about 3 years ago at a wine tasting during my first trip to Italy. I bought myself a bottle of wine that was supposed to be even better after a few more years of aging – truly a metaphor for me, I thought! Then, as friends started turning 50 before me, I began to think about how I wanted to celebrate. I would get close to having a plan that sounded good – a big party, travel… but nothing seemed to come together easily. One thing that I have learned in the past few years is that if I start to feel like I’m forcing something, then it is usually best to step away from it.
So as recently as the first week of February, I was still trying to find what felt like the best way to celebrate and wondering why it felt so hard. And now I know why – nothing that had been on my list of plans would have been able to happen this month. No friends flying in, no huge gathering, no travel overseas.
Over the past couple of months, my gift in the pandemic has been to have a lot of time on my hands to reflect on my age (as well as get those closets organized, finally). When I think of myself at 50, I am full of contentment, excitement, and joy about being a 50-year-old woman. It’s slightly surprising to me that I feel this way, but that’s probably because of how I’ve been influenced by our culture to believe that women of a certain age are vaguely fading, unexciting, and past their relevancy
Here’s how I actually feel despite all of those messages: that I am at the height of my power as a woman. That I’m more vital, fierce, and closer to my core self than I have ever been. I make decisions guided by my values. I spend time with people who light me up. I give myself space to be quiet when I need to. To engage in what feeds me when I know that I need to be filled up again. I give myself permission to do what is important for me so that I can show up in my life in a way that feels authentic, and also helps me be present for the people I love. I ask myself what I want and what would feel good to my body. I seek out adventure and I put myself in the way of beauty and marvel at it. I want people who I love to let them know they are loved.
I had the gift of facing some rough truths about myself just over a decade ago, and I believe that set me on a path that I had strayed very far from in my 20s and 30s – the path to myself. My 40s were a time to learn, adventure, work, fail, rise, laugh, and be. I was my own mid-life crisis, and I dug deep. Now at 50, I know that I have to give myself space to continue to do all of those things, and I look forward to it – all of the new learning, new growth, new adventure, new love, new struggles.
I hope to be there for others along the same journey of finding their way back to their authentic, fierce selves. Many of my friends have been exploring how they are feeling about turning 50 – one of my hilarious friends expressed the overwhelming feeling that she will wake up on her 50th birthday and Facebook will say to her “Welcome to Your Irrelevancy!”. 50 can be fierce (and fabulous, another one of my favorite words) or whatever you want it to be. Dig in.