Admit it. When you were young, you thought being in your 50s was older than dirt. You couldn't imagine being that aged and decrepit. But then the years moved forward. And here you are. The strangest thing is you look around and realize things aren't so bad. In fact, here are seven reasons why being in your 50s is downright good...
Take a bow. Somewhere in this decade your kids probably graduated high school and maybe even college. Perhaps they moved out. Perhaps they're still home. But even if they're living under your roof, things have changed. They're now full-functioning adults ... ahem. Babysitters? Checking school homework? Gearing for college essays? They're all in the past and guess what? You graduated too, to a different, more expansive stage of life.
You're still young.
Yup. I just said that. You're still young in your 50s. Take a walk through any nursing home if you don't believe me. What's even better is that you're the same person inside you've always been. Sure, maybe the outside has more mileage but you still love the "Little Rascals" and singing in the car and shoving pink hunks of cotton candy in your mouth at summer carnivals. Some things never change. That kid is still in there.
However ... time is ticking.
And this is a good thing because nothing focuses the mind like a deadline. When I was young I was always putting things off, like exploring the world, going on that cross-country drive or maybe living in New York City. Time stretched endlessly into the future like the Sahara desert. Then the years came along and that Sahara desert shrunk to the size of my local beach. Before I know it, it'll be the size of a kid's sandbox. I realized if I'm ever going to see South America or learn how to make a cheese soufflé or try and write that novel, I better start moving.
You know who you are.
In my 20s, I worked in the corporate world and always felt defective. I was never good at politics, organizational charts or football pools. I got teary-eyed easily much to the eye-rolling impatience of tougher colleagues. Instead I liked ideas and words and emotional, messy things. It wasn't till I had a few decades under my belt that I realized this wasn't my fault. I hadn't found my tribe. If you're young and still in that search mode, don't worry. You'll discover who you are, most likely through hit or miss. But you will find it.
You're in that sweet spot in life.
Remember during early parenthood when you were changing that third stinky diaper in two hours and fantasized about lying on a beach somewhere? Or maybe taking a week-long camping trip? Good news: it's easier now. Your 50s are that great intersection between "Raring to Go" and "Having Most of your Marbles Left to Do it." I have 50-something friends who have more adventures these days than they had in their 20s. They finally have the time and means and believe me, they're gunning for it full-throttle.
By this age you've been tossed around by life a little ... or a lot. You've had to climb back on that horse many times. And the great thing is you know you can do it. By your 50s, you've been tested emotionally, personally, marriage-wise, kids-wise, financially, health-wise, you name it. You know what to put on the worry list. You know what's not worth it. You know where to put your energies. You can finally say no to jello shots.
You're free to chase your dream.
I know many who picked up the pen, guitar, paint brush, and yoga mat in their later years. Who knows why? Maybe we're less afraid. Maybe we have more to express at this age. Maybe life, with its joys and sorrows, deepens the soul. People who took no prisoners in the corporate world discovered they now love the gentler side of life. Our 50s are the first time many of us have the time and space to explore our hidden, creative self. And that can lead to riches we never knew we had.
I just started my last year in my 50s. And looking back it's been an awesome, educational, inspirational, spiritual decade. I'm grateful. My 50s were one bad-ass teacher.
Am I ready for the next decade in a year? Gulp. No. Yes. Maybe. Not sure. While I think about this, please pass the cotton candy.
Laurie Stone writes from the woods of Easton, CT. Come visit her blog, "Musings, Rants & Scribbles" where she shares thoughts on growing up, growing older and (hopefully) growing wiser.