HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY FRIEND who is 50 today. We had a quick birthday coffee – she has many lovely plans which she is quite rightly spreading out throughout her very important year. She looks amazing, but I still spotted her hiding her helium balloons as she left the coffee shop this morning for fear of anyone noticing the numbers emblazoned on her balloon. Quite a few of my friends are going to be 50 this year and consequently I’ve become more aware of the traumas surrounding this half a century milestone. It surely makes everyone do a little panicky thing – have a midlife crisis of some description if they haven’t already done so. Is it just as bad for men? Are our metrosexual men as worried about losing their looks as we are?
I’m not there yet but time is moving on at such a pace it’s scary – I want to be able to slow everything down for a minute. To stay here in this space. Or move back a few more years. Anything but accept the inevitable….
But what is the inevitable? Things are changing rapidly. I’m not sure it’s right to say 50 is the new 40 or even the new 35. I think it’s better to say 50 is the new 50 and for everybody to get used to it. We shouldn’t want to hang on to our youth and try and look 12. We of course still want to look good and have fun and take on new challenges and accept that we are going to be around for a lot longer than our parents generation but without all the scary medical interventions on offer at the moment.
So what does it mean to be FIFTY??? Of course children still see it as being incredibly old. But as a woman I think most of my friends feel a little more comfortable in their own skin and a little less concerned about what other people think. This decade, for our generation hasn’t really been done very well thus far. Statistics show that 1 in 7 of us will live to be 100 so the perception of what it means to be 50 needs to start to change. It is a pivotal age for many women and a time when women can suddenly go to extremes in their search for independence – although these days a lot of us will still have dependent children at home to look after.
My view is that life is too short not to get out there and start doing more things for ourselves. My 50th party is going to be a two day rave in a club with my children (yeah right). That is our challenge – how do find a way to feel valued and attractive but in a natural way? I have already written about being invisible in your 40’s – so how do you avoid disappearing completely into thin air in your 50’s?
Marie de Hennezel, the author of the book I’m reading at the moment says “since we are promised increasingly long lives, let us search for the keys to inner youthfulness; a state of mind that will help us to avoid ‘rusting’, that will prevent us from withdrawing into ourselves and enable us to retain vast horizons even if our physical world shrinks; in short, to remain alive right to the end”.
What she says old people lack (and she is talking about much older people, but we can work at it now) – the missing factor that would make them beautiful, that isn’t smooth, wrinkle free skin, is joy and youthfulness of heart”. “We need to stop gazing fearfully at the aesthetic criteria of youth and implement a narcissistic revolution. We need to discover the extraordinary freedom we will gain once we stop being preoccupied with our own image, with other people’s vision of us. We need to learn how to see with the eyes of the heart”.
OK good. But how do we do that? Any ideas? Anybody want to join my club? I shall call it the “Growing old disgracefully” club. We need to get out more. Drive too fast (but not in built up areas where there might be any children or places with speed limits or road bumps obviously), behave badly (mostly in front of the children), set a new higher bar of excellence for what it might mean to be 50.
God. I was on a roll then and my kitten just farted on my lap. Got to go now. Feel sick.