What I’ve learned about being 50 so far

What I've learned about being 50I turned 50 last April, and it’s a milestone I’m very proud to have reached. I revel in hearing people look at me in disbelief when I say I’m half a century old. I’m a self-proclaimed “Golden Girl” and I’ve come to realize that 50 isn’t as “old” as I thought it was when I was looking from the perspective of my then 30 and even 40-something self.  And yet I harbor no illusions of being young. That was a lifetime ago.

So I realize that this post might not resonate with those who are decades away from this milestone, but you might yet pick up a thing or two if you give this post a read. Here, in a random list are the things I’ve picked up and learned about being 50 so far

It feels different, yes.  Life seems to be different and the same as seen through my reading glasses.  (Which makes me wonder if I ought to get my eyes checked for real…). I am calmer, not as quick to react to life in general, more forgiving (or is it unaffected or uncaring?), and more patient with the world.  That’s 50 for me in a capsule– read on for more.

1. 50 isn’t all that old.  I used to think that 50 was ancient until I actually made it to this milestone.  Of course, it helps that touting the age and seeing people looking all surprised to know I’m THAT old has been such an ego booster.  I tell them simply that it’s the Asian skin.  And for that I am eternally grateful.  The melanin helps me to look better and younger, despite whatever wrinkles I have at this point.  I love bragging about being 50 because I enjoy seeing their incredulous look when I declare it and I get showered with compliments for not looking it.  One for vanity!

And seeing all the people I know who are older makes me feel younger — even if I have seen a friend or two pass on.. You will always be younger than someone and older than most.  The thing is to know that we all go through these phases as we age.  Living in and being your age helps you to move through life with more grace– and less signs of aging.

2. I actually like who I am at this point in my life..(which actually means I’m happy with being this age.). Some people my age seem to think their best selves are much younger iterations of them — when they were more youthful looking sans the grey hair and the wrinkles.  I disagree. I think this is my best “me” yet for all the changes that had colored my life through the years.

I like that I have so much experience tucked under my belt — and I’m talking not only of things I managed to do, but more importantly, the lessons I learned in my failings.  There, I believe, lies the true lessons of life that we cannot learn in books or in school.  They are lessons that life teaches us.  The thing is to learn from them and not let them be erased by time. If we keep them tucked inside us, we might yet avoid thanking the same mistake a second time.

I am no longer as hard on myself as I used to be.  I have come to accept my own limitations without beating myself up for it.  I don’t know if it’s good that I am no longer as forgiving or patient with others — when they disappoint, I sigh and I move on.

3.  You can be pretty at 50 without trying to look younger. I remember there was a time I thought I’d be old at 40.  Then it came and went and here I am at 50.  So what if there are wrinkles adorning my eyes?  And what about the blemishes on my face which my dermatologist warns me will just multiply if I touch them so I leave them be.  They look like freckles and there are a couple of facial warts, but that’s what make up is for.  I simply rely on a good concealer and foundation to mask them but not completely obliterate them from view.

Make up is my bestfriend and I have always used it to highlight my better features and mask the ones that detract from the total look.  I have never used it, though, to try and look younger.  I’d like to think I use it to look better.  To me, that’s celebrating my age with grace — and it’s so much easier to go with the flow than to go against it.  So yes, I do use full makeup from foundation to pressed powder.  I apply colors that accentuate my best features without having to wonder which colors works best. There are times when I have to apply a tad bit more foundation or concealer in certain areas, but you have to remember, that’s what those are for!  More than hide my blemishes, I try to minimize them and work on equalizing my tone.

At 50, that requires a bit more effort but it is worth it.  Getting older doesn’t mean letting our looks go down the drain.  We can be old and still look good

4.  I know now that I am important, too, so I take better care of me.  I  regret having “let go” at some point after motherhood took me over in 2004.  I look at pictures of myself even as recent as 3  years ago and further on, and I am saddened by the fact that I did so poorly at taking care of myself.  It took a life changing realization to wake me up from that complacency and get back to the old me.  The vain and make up loving me!

I still can’t believe I stopped caring as much as I used to.  I see the pictures from the past decade and I am just grateful that I “woke up” from that and am now taking better care of myself.  I no longer put myself at the bottom of the list, knowing that I have to be in a good place to be able to take care of those around me.  That self sacrifice has its rewards, but then you will only end up feeling deprived if you do not leave something for yourself.

At the end of the day, you are the only one who can best take care of you.  You cannot rely on others to nurture your spirit and soul — those are parts of you only you can take care of.

5.  People will come and go and that’s perfectly fine.  I used to be such a clinger when it came to my friends — and even the ones I gave my heart to.  There seemed to be such an urgency to keeping them in my life.  And I found myself broken-hearted when someone left or I left someone — until recently.  I finally found myself just being more accepting of people coming and going — because I guess age has taught me that you cannot really make people stay.  That has to be their choice.  Sometimes life just takes us in different directions, and parting is inevitable and unavoidable — and there is really nothing you can do but just go with the flow and move on.  You let go.  

At the same time, I have learned to appreciate the friendships and the unconditional love of family.  That is precious beyond words.

6.  You need to take better care of your body.  There are things about one’s voluptuous body that will never be the same as when you were younger without surgical intervention, so embrace the authentic you.  I know that’s a mouthful but I couldn’t get the thought across with less words.

I’ve been overweight most of my life.  I’ve been “plump” and “chubby” and  — okay, I have to admit, at certain points in my life, — just plain fat.  It doesn’t help that my bulges are distributed proportionately, so I see myself inflating and deflating as if I were taking in and losing air.  You tend to get the illusion that “it’s just a few pounds.”  That is, until the scale tells you it’s another leg you’ve been growing under your skin.  Then you find yourself buying the next size.  Time to watch your health!

There was a time I was enrolled in this and that weight loss program because someone wanted me to be a certain size.  I used to be asked what I ate and was eating at work.  During meals, I had to be mindful of what I ordered not because of the price or budget, but because I was supposed to be watching what I ate.  I was chided in jest  for giving in to my cravings  which was “supposed to be a joke,” but which was actually a reminder not to chomp away.

These days, I diet and try to move around (not really something you can call exercising at this point) more for my health and well-being than to torture myself into a particular size.  With a history of diabetes on both sides of my family, and my own bout with gestational diabetes when I was pregnant at 37, I have been warned time and again that I am wont to be diabetic myself as I get older.

It’s not about just settling and letting things hang — literally at this age, mind you! — but as in cars and much of what we own, we need to maintain our parts to keep them in proper working condition.  But I am not killing myself over the flabs — even if I am wishing so hard to shrink them or make them disappear.  I haven’t quite gotten down to the point of considering surgical intervention, but I think I like myself and my parts — even those I can do without, just fine.  There are so many other things worth spending money on.

If you don’t like something, work on getting rid of it naturally.  Life is a bit more complicated as you get older and your self esteem and your body image should not be at the top of your list if you will conquer the rest of the hurdles life sends your way.

7.  Being 50 brought me face to face with the reality that I am no superwoman.  Try as I might to help as many people as I can, I can only do so much.  It’s not a sense of resignation or a change of heart, but when we are younger, we tend to bend backwards as far as we can to accommodate, or to give until it hurts like people say.

Now that I am older, I’ve come to realize that try as I might, there is only so much we can do, and we should not feel frustrated about that being the case.  It is just how life goes.

I haven’t stopped trying.  It’s just that I have been easier on myself when it turns out I can’t.  I temper my disappointment in not being able to help with the thought that I tried.

We tend to be our worst critics and the source of the toughest pressure on ourselves when we should be the kindest.  I have come to realize that this only leads to more frustration and the last thing you need when you’re trying to keep in step with the pressure from all over is to be putting yourself down.

I guess you can say I’m more accepting of my limitations and more cognizant of my abilities.  Sometimes I surprise myself doing something I thought I couldn’t do.  And when it turns out I cannot, I no longer beat myself up for failing to deliver.  I tried, I tell myself.  That’s what matters.

8.  Age has helped me zero in on what I want and go for it.  I have always been a go-getter, but there has been a lot of self doubt and too much caution in my life choices.  For the longest time, I played safe and stepped back.  I don’t know if it was because I lost part of my identity in my marriage or my self-confidence was diminished by my trying too hard to please others.  In the midst of all this, I became stuck in my comfort zone.  I dreamed and thought about and saw what I wanted, but I lost the drive to aspire and go after the dream like I used to.  

Then came the realization that I was moving on through life.  The years that had passed me by were forever gone.  Whatever time I had invested in life was “ticking away.”  At 50, I saw that there are many things one can no longer put off for another day, because this might be your last day.  Time has a way of reminding you not about time running out, but that it is running.. two different things. 

I keep telling my friends who sigh and bemoan their current state, whatever it is, that I live by a simple guide when I find myself at a crossroads- “What would make me happy?” — then I go for it.  It’s not enough that you know what it is– you have to work towards getting to that happy place.  You have to go for it.

9.  Being 50 makes one come to terms with the reality of one’s mortality.  We tend to postpone the thought of death to “later” or when we are much “older.”  Any talk of death is “morbid”.  Even when a batchmate or two passed on due to cancer, it was always just at the back of my mind — never front and center.  At any given time, there is one person who I know who is terminally ill.  You tend to think that death is still far off and just brush it aside.  It is, after all, happening to someone else.  Until you realize you are moving on in years, and 50 will become 60 and so on and so forth.

I have always been busy writing my will but have never really finished one.  I think I’m trying to be too specific with my provisions and bequests when I ought to keep it simpler, more so since I don’t exactly have millions to give away.  I know I want to be cremated, and my ashes distributed some place.

It’s only recently that I have appointed someone to be my emergency contact — and I still owe my friend a list of final instructions.  I have given the simple instructions to notify someone who can take care of getting to my little guy, but that’s all I’ve specified so far.  Yet I know how important it is that this is taken cared of.  My procrastinating isn’t postponing anything — it is just leaving me “vulnerable” should something untoward happen to me.

My wish is to live long and be up on my feet to the day I die.  I hope that my memory doesn’t go before my body does, and that I continue to be walking about in the twilight of my years.

I have no bucket list, but I want to live my life and learn more and do more.  Even if I always say I’ve accomplished all that I had hoped to and dreamed about, I know that there is a whole world out there for me to conquer.  

So write and finish my will, I will.  

51 is just around the corner.  I am waiting to embrace it with as much fervor as I did 50.  There are more lessons to learn and realizations to come.  I tell myself it can only get better.  Whatever burdens I continue to carry in my heart may not disappear, but I’m counting on being able to go on with my journey unbowed, and even braver now that I have hit my golden year.
 

 

 

Advertisements