As a woman in my fifties – I LOVE MY AGE! And it’s not just me – we are seeing more and more high profile women over the age of fifty, working in all forms of media, who are standing up against the societal notion of ageing and celebrating their age as a huge positive – particularly in an industry that is notorious for ageism. And yet, research shows that over 40% of midlife women view ageing as a negative experience.
We all have an individual experience of growing older and, despite some common threads that inevitably run through the ageing process for us, we all treat it differently. Circumstance, careers, family, society and often a cultural hangover from our own upbringing, all mean that some will embrace the age milestones as they come along, and others less so.
I can’t deny that I definitely have moments of nostalgia for my younger self, of not wanting to be labelled middle aged or made to feel invisible – and these are exactly the times when the party girl in me steps out demanding to be seen and heard. But the very process of ageing means that we can’t turn back the clock, and trying to delay our biological track can potentially only lead to disappointment.
For those of us who are sitting firmly in our fifties now, the question we should be asking ourselves is not how we can turn back time, but that are we the resilient, independent and confident women we are today because of the age we have arrived at? Surely what has led us to this solid stage in our lives is the wealth of experience we have accumulated and the adversity we have had to endure along the way – and we have the wisdom of our years to see that now.
The list of positives as we grow older – physically, emotionally and psychologically – is inspiring. Our thinking and problem-solving abilities are far better in midlife. We have greater self-awareness, no longer such a need to prove ourselves, less worried what others may think and are more confident in the decisions we make. We accept our shortcomings, recognise our strengths, and we are certainly more tolerant. In essence, we have reached our true authentic self.
Simply by allowing ourselves the independence to just be now is liberating. Certainly for me, I am stronger. I’m no longer my own worst critic and I’ve learned to manage those self-imposed high expectations, letting go of the trivia in my life and focusing on what really matters. I am savvier at navigating stress, yet still able to ask for help when I need it without seeing it as a sign of weakness.
Of course, new generations will take the lead, the world moves on, and as we go into midlife and beyond, we need to move along with it. But what I do know, finally and with confidence, is that I am simply who I am, here and now, at this age – and I am okay with that.