YONOO….not yet a word, I’ve made it up, but it stands for “Young Old, Not Old Old” which has been referenced in a book I mention below and it’s a better term than “Silver Surfers,” “The Grey Pound” or “Perennials” and all the other terms I’ve seen for people in the middle of their lives….YONOO at least sounds like something you can shout and wave about at the top of a mountain don’t you think?
Most of my friends seem to suddenly be wondering what is next as they wave their children off to university or the big wide world and we all seem to be in the same boat, confronting a massive sea change as we cling onto the sides of what remains of our little boats, wondering where we are going to end up next. It’s a little too quiet in my house and I’m missing my son – the fridge is too full and there are no towels on the floor. Still, I know from experience that it won’t be long before he’s back for Christmas and then the long (four months??) summer holidays.
It’s a real time for change, not just for people like me, post divorce, but for all my friends as we move into another phase of our lives and I’ve noticed most of them seem a little discombobulated. They are either divorcing and recklessly enjoying online dating or dreading the looming retirements and wondering if they are going to remember how to talk to their partners about something other than their children. A few are thinking about moving out of London, others are talking about moving abroad or setting up charities or running marathons – will any of that happen or will we all start playing bridge, doing crosswords whilst discussing bunions, achey knees and ultimately how to dodge the bullet in the sniper’s alley of life that we have found ourselves in.
Realistically those of us with children still need to be available as they navigate their new lives and many of us also have ageing parents to manage, so this is not the time to set sail on a gap year. What should life look like for those of us in our fifties in this day and age? How are we supposed to behave in our “middle age?” We mostly have woeful role models and terrible advertising reference points – couples with grey hair and uber wrinkles looking after grandchildren or wearing special shoes and elasticated trousers. Fifty doesn’t mean what it used to and we are all trying to work it out.
There’s a great book dedicated to the subject called “Extra Time” by Camilla Cavendish – 10 lessons for an Ageing World that provides lots of inspiration for what we should be doing next.
That’s the key.
Just got to work out what that means and stride purposefully towards it (ignoring the bunions). Or maybe I’ll sit on the dock of bay (in Putney) and think.
“Young Old” is what we are now. Which is a little depressing, but better to embrace it than fight against it (hair dye excluded) and it’s better than “Old Old”….which is only twenty years away, so we all need to hurry up with a collective plan!