Folks, I’m middle aged. Despite the Norwegian dna which keeps me looking thirty-something, I am not.
I’m a fourty-something.
I recently had a birthday up here in Yellowknife. Because I scarcely know anyone, there were not the usual celebrations, but there was time to reflect on the cost/benefits of my aging. Happily, by my analysis, it’s a massive win on the benefits side: I’d far rather be my age with my experiences than any younger age.
Here are some things I have now which I didn’t have even in my thirties:
A hard-won inner sense of security. Some people (can I call them “kids” yet?) seem grounded in their twenties but most of us have insecurities and uncertainties that can send us into real tailspins. That hasn’t happened to me in years, thank God. Having weathered enough of life, there’s not much that causes me self-doubt. Life feels a lot better being grounded, and confident! It gives me a place from which to venture forth, and to risk. Yes to security!
Perspective. This can only be attained with the passing of years. For example, as a former conservative it took some life experience of my own to change my point of view – and so now, I hold positions a little less tenaciously, knowing I could again see things differently. It enables me to dialogue and seek creative solutions rather than be choked with frustration and discouragement. Yes to perspective.
Hope. I grew up during the cold war, when it was a very real possibility that we’d blow entire countries up and kill the planet. Remember The Day After? Like many of my cohort I understood that annihilation was imminent. Yet here I am. And the Berlin Wall is gone (remember the Pepsi advert that year?). On less catastrophic levels, I’ve seen political change for the better, I’ve seen the green movement really take hold, I’ve seen Apple take market share 🙂 Seriously – hope born of experiencing turn-arounds is energizing and keeps life full of good possibility. Yes to hope!
Tried, tested and true friendships. By now I have a handful of friends with whom I have a long history. They’ve seen me through break-ups, through career dramas, and through the vagaries of life. These are friendships with depth, honesty and strong support when needed. This is not to downplay my more recently developed friendships, but it’s those 15-20 year friendships that enabled me to move to Yellowknife, knowing they’ll be there when I return. Yes to long-term friends!
A fierce love of life. There’s nothing like shattered dreams and taking a series of personal hits to help you discover that life its very self is worth the living. When I was younger I kept hoping for the life on the commercials – financial security, romance, and some measure of success that would put me somehow in the spotlight. As a middle-aged woman, I’m much more interested in a life deeply lived than externally pleasing circumstances. Yes to life!
None of this is to diminish my life in my twenties and thirties. But with these wrinkles (Norwegian dna notwithstanding), and with my mildly arthritic fingers, and knowing I’ll soon lose the ability to have kids, with those costs, comes an ongoing engagement with life, and people, and politics, and love, and learning that has become richer and deeper with the years.
Can’t wait to turn 50.