I am turning 50 in six months. Even typing those words is surreal, since I still feel 30 and am told I look to be five years older than that. How in god’s name did this happen?
When I was a 12-year-old itching to bust out of my conservative, small town, I told myself that I’d be accomplished and financially successful by the time I was 21. That birthday came and went with me waiting tables as a college drop-out, trying to figure out how to make my way in a world that had turned out to be much tougher and meaner than I’d imagined. At age 30, another milestone I had been convinced would find me financially stable and in a great career, I was working with homeless people in Manhattan and living the low-income, high-octane, single girl life I’d dreamed of way back in junior high. By the time I was 40 and stability certainly should have arrived, I’d moved to LA and was making a ton of money, but I wasn’t happy. There was a huge hole in my life where meaning should have been.
Now, approaching the big 5-0, I find myself financially strapped again, but married to an extraordinary man and working harder on something than I’ve ever worked before: being married. My career has taken yet another turn and I can finally see some progress. But perhaps the biggest difference in my life at 50 will be my relationship with myself. I’m more comfortable in my own skin than I’ve ever been and feel more capable of making positive changes. That’s the real gift of time passing, I guess. Not outward signs of it, like money and a big career, but the inward signs of self-acceptance and growth.
No matter old how you are, try to focus on what you’re accomplishing along the way instead of assuming that an upcoming birthday is going to magically deliver your goals and dreams.
Tags: 50th birthday, expectations, goals