Based on the way I felt when I turned 25, I would have predicted that turning 50 would infuse a level of fear in me that would be paralyzing.
To be totally honest, I’m not sure why it hasn’t. Maybe it’s coming? Maybe I’m in denial?
I can only report what I’m consciously aware of, the totality of which leaves me feeling surprisingly underwhelmed. Oddly bland. Neutral. Which is weird because I don’t live in the center of the bell curve, emotionally speaking.
I’m a passionate girl (do I have to call myself lady now?), who spent decades wishing I did live in a state of neutrality more often. Because for a long time I responded to my emotional highs and lows – alternately acting impulsively when I was deliriously excited over something or lashing out with a level of rage that terrified me when I was on the unhappy end of the emotional spectrum. I just could not sit with emotions.
Which seems a good place to start writing about the changes I feel on my insides (I wrote a few weeks back describing my physical changes, linked here) as I celebrate my 50th birthday.
Shit rolls off my back in a way it didn’t even a few years ago. I suppose I’ve had so many experiences where I got sucked into unnecessary drama that I now see the visual of a fork in the road when faced with a trigger: This road leads to being right and expending a ton of energy. That road leads to letting go of the need to be right and it comes with peace.
I’m cranky. Like, for real. I don’t know if it’s from living in New York City for 14 years, or from sprinting through my life for a couple decades, but things annoy the hell out of me, and it’s getting progressively worse. Which doesn’t bother me because I usually find my level of annoyance funny and wind up laughing at myself, which leaves me feeling better afterwards.
I feel powerful. I feel powerful because I’ve experienced so fucking much. I’ve made every mistake there is to make. Several times. Sometimes dozens. And having access to that amount of data helps me problem solve in a fraction of the time it took me in my 30’s.
I know what to say. I know what to do. I can untangle a story and hone in on the key points in a way that used to require double my ADD drugs. In fact, if I’d let myself vacation the way humans should, I wouldn’t even need the drugs anymore. `
I appreciate laughter. This might have something to do with being cranky, but God do I appreciate a deep belly laugh. The kind that makes me feel like I did 200 crunches (which is something I haven’t done in decades, fyi). It’s even better if my eyes start to tear from laughing.
I still give too many fucks. But not nearly as many as I used to. Like, I absolutely care what you think about me. But caring no longer stops me from being my true self. When weighing one against the other, your opinion of me loses. Might you unsubscribe from my list? Yes. Could you write a shitty review about me somewhere? I’m guessing such a place exists. Will it result in me trying to be who I think you want me to be? Not anymore.
I have to choose to be optimistic. Throughout my life, optimism came naturally to me. Bad things happened and I always bounced back. But I’m guessing there’s a cumulative effect to the speed with which and the degree to which one bounces over time. Because it seems like the last dozen times life hit me upside my head, some of the air left my ball of resilience.
Which is not to say that I no longer have hope. It means that when I was younger, I only saw the hope. Now I know how shitty things can turn out. And when faced with two outcomes, I have to muscle my way to align with optimism. Which seems fair, given that I’ve been blessed to walk the planet a good amount of time, and with that time comes disappointment, hurt and heartbreak.
I’m choosing not to evaluate my success. Because when I do that, I always come up short. I either come up short monetarily or because I use some other random measurement which tells me I’m not where I want to be. And I find that demoralizing. It’s not going to help me take the action I need to take. It’s not going to keep me looking forward with the level of optimism necessary to pursue the things I audaciously chase.
And that’s where I am with 50. Here are some pictures of how I’m celebrating!! 👇🏻👇🏻