The women in my life often make splashes later in life. There are friends who have travelled and settled all around the world; or met and married the loves of their lives. There are cousins who have started successful businesses in their 50s and 60s; and even an aunt who received her master’s degree in her 70s. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by women who remain unafraid of starting over at any age.
Which bring me to this old saying, age is nothing but a number. It’s a meaningful saying, especially since October is my birth month and in a matter of days, I’ll be turning … gasp … 52!
52 is NOT 25
Despite the inversion, 52 is not 25 nor is it 42 nor 32, either. There are always people out there spouting that “X age” is the new “Y age” and this needs to stop because it contributes to the rampant ageism we experience in society, but also in popular culture. So, let me put it bluntly: 52 is 52. It’s not a NEW anything. That’s right, I said it and I didn’t sugarcoat it. Even if I feel in my heart and soul, that I am younger, my body tells me otherwise despite, the best physical workouts. However, that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t own the wisdom that age gifts me and use it to take on whatever the “new” that comes my way.
Here are five reasons why I embrace aging with utter glee.
1. Embrace my wisdom. At 52, hopefully I’m not nearly as “life” stupid as I was when I was at 25. At 25, you may have finished your formal education, secured your first serious job and finally have attained the status of living like a fully functioning young adult. But for the most part, you are still a stupid kid doing stupid things. If you don’t believe me, take a second to think back to that time. How much “life” sense did you really have? It’s in making those mistakes and learning from them that you grow. So, by the age of 52, hopefully, you examine life’s decisions in a wholly new way. At 52, I still don’t know everything, but I do know a hell of a lot more. And, I feel comfortable enough in my own skin to admit when I don’t know something, and I feel brave enough to ask for help when I don’t know. That, in itself, is growth.
2. Own my agency. The age of 52 pretty much ensures that I’m a grown-ass woman. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of this. I know who I am – at least, this latest incarnation of me. I know what I want out of everything – life, love, work, family. I know what I expect of myself and of others. I know how to walk away when it doesn’t serve my soul. This is an important gift. It means that I’m not going to be wasting my time on anything that doesn’t enrich my life or make me a better person or doesn’t allow me to grow through connecting, interacting and helping others. It also means that I can/do stand up for myself. I always have but doing so always felt rebellious. Now, it feels like it’s my right. Bottom-line, I am not waiting for anyone’s permission to be or do ANYTHING.
3. Take care of myself. Turning 52 also means “me” time and selfcare. Everything that I do in my life should serve my life first, so that I am filled and fully charged to help others. It means quiet time and space, and practicing mindfulness. I have to admit this one is still a hard one for me to embrace. Honestly, as a black woman, who has time for this? But I now know it’s important. It means that I have to make sure that I am seeing the doctor like I should, watching how and what I eat, moving my body, laughing with family and friends and pursuing the activities and hobbies that bring me unadulterated joy.
4. Dream again. When I first started my career, female mentors on my career track used to tell me that we “could have it all: career, motherhood and more.” And, you can, just not all at the same time. I think the most astonishing thing that I’ve learned is just how much life really is like the book of Ecclesiastes: there really is a time for everything. Now that I’m nearly an empty nester and that my own children on their way to pursuing their own dreams, it’s time for me to start the next act of my life. I look to fellow Chicago girl, Michelle Obama to show me how to do it!
5. Give back. Giving back gives life meaning and purpose. Nothing gives me more pleasure than helping young people find their way. Life is tough and there will always be crossroads, and pressure to take the “safe” path – even if that path doesn’t speak to the soul. Sometimes, you just need someone to tell you that everything is going to be fine, and that’s the role that I love serving.
Whoever says life is over at 50 is so wrong. In fact, for a lot of us, we’re just getting started … again. So, 52 comes in exactly five days and I cannot wait. While I’m no longer 25 or living my life as if it’s the “new” 25. I do plan to live my best version of 52, 62, 72, 82, 92 and who knows … 102. There’s only one force in the universe that can intervene … but for everyone else, well, they can just try and stop me.