Why Turning 50 Is So Different From Any Other Age Milestone

2015-03-24-1427233561-7051500-group.jpg Celebrating 50 with 20 High School Friends in California

Just for the record. I'm not 50. I'm 49. However, I've been joking around so much over the past year that I am 50, I have come to believe I am 50 already. So turning 50 in six weeks really seems, let's just say, not irrelevant but, not ground shaking either. Still, more than any other age milestone so far -- 16, 18, 21, 30 or 40, this seems different. I have thought long and hard about what 50 means to me. Why is this? Am I having the cliche midlife crisis? Am I afraid that I am now officially old? Is it because in my youth, I could never picture myself as 50?

I'm the kidder in the family, so my husband and kids are used to hearing me start my sentences this past year with, "Well, I'm 50" or "I'm turning 50, so I'm old" to which I get a chorus of "Mom, you're not 50 yet!". I know what I'm doing though, playing some kind of mental dance out in my head. Debunking it with my sarcasm, just in case I am suddenly "old" in six weeks.

I don't feel any older, but I meet people in their 20s and 30s, and I find myself looking at their faces and thinking, wow they look young. I have had, over the past two years, my own quasi midlife crisis before turning 50. I closed down my PR business after 13 years two years ago. I surprised myself with how much I wanted to do this after so many years. I said on more than one occasion, "PR is a young man's game" and meant it. I relished the idea of not answering to anyone, and being the boss of myself. I devoted myself 100 percent to my children who needed me. I considered my options, I wrote articles, I volunteered, I traveled, I spent precious time with my mother before she forgot who I was.

I walked away gladly and yet, I still asked myself all the requisite questions one does when you walk away from a lifelong career. Did I play it out? Could I have accomplished more? Was there anything left undone? And, there was. I handled this maturely, of course. I cried it out, many times. The compromises that were made, the sacrifices for my family while we grappled with our curve balls. Sacrifices, I'd gladly make again, but changed the course of my life all the same. I wrestled with my demons, and the sense that comes with age, that tells us we are not completely in control of our own destiny. This, I learned is part of getting older. Re-evaulating, re- examining, reconnecting and renewing.

The more time I spent getting to know myself, the more I wondered not about what might have been, but about what my future had left in store for me. The passing of my charismatic father two and half years ago, and my mother's increasing descent into dementia, which is its own kind of death, made me question my personal footprint in a way I had never considered before. Instead of thinking we are old at 50, should I not be saying, "Well, I'm 50, now what else is going on?"


Every time I look in the mirror and see my purple hair, I admit I smile to myself.

Because for some reason, that is what 50 has now come to symbolize for me. If not now, when? It's time to do what I want. Eat ice cream, stay up too late, ride a bike, move to a new country, lose 10 lbs, start a new adventure, run a marathon, climb a mountain, change a life, write a book, do what I want. This feeling starts small, and then leads to bigger life-changing questions. What is it really that I want to do with my life? What is my life about? What am I going to do with the rest of my life?

When 50 comes, I'm ready. I've got a new business plan, book ideas, places to travel, people to see, laughs to be had. A few weeks ago, I highlighted some of my hair purple. Someone said to me, I never thought you would do something like that. To which I replied, "This is who I have always been, I just have never felt like I could do it before."

50 is fabulous, now let's go.


Walking on the beach last week in Newport with my childhood girlfriends
celebrating 50 fabulous years.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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