“50 is the new Fifty: Ten Life Lessons for Women in Second Adulthood” by Suzanne Braun Levine. Ms. Levine is over 50, is one of the founders of the Women’s Movement, and has a delightful writing style.
She says we are not just older versions of our younger self…we are becoming NEW people all together, and those nearing or around 50 tend to be wrestling with ourselves in ‘the fertile void’ to get into our Second Adulthood – a time where we are more happy with ourselves and our lives. Which is a wonderful visual. Instead of trying to fit myself into what I *used* to be, I hope to come out the other side in my Second Adulthood appreciating the person I am NOW. A person that is a compilation of my past experiences, but more than the sum of my parts – a fresh NEW take. And that person may not be compatible with others’ old expectations of me.
An example she gave was of a 50-something executive who was high up on the corporate ladder. She decided she wanted to go part time. Her company decided they only wanted her as a full timer so fired her. She was at a loss of what to do. So she went to the gym to work out and give her mind time to think while she got frustrations out with her activities. She was told by a trainer ‘you know, you’ve got a body builder’s body’. So she started, just for fun, doing the body builder training. Then she started going to competitions and winning! During this time she took up painting ‘just for fun’ and low and behold she started making a living from selling her work! Both totally took her by surprise. She said that her old group of friends stopped inviting her to parties ‘probably because they thought I was weird now’. But she didn’t care, because she had a new life that was so much fun for her. That kind of story gives me hope.
Another thing the author brings up is this time period between late 40‘s to mid 50‘s is sometimes referred to as the ‘f*ck you fifties’. A time when we learn to say I’m going to become the best person I can be, I’m going to do what’s right for me. And you standing in my way telling me I can’t doesn’t work for me. As our estrogen wanes, our need to keep the peace at all costs to protect children wanes as well. We find ourselves standing up for (or against) things that we would have let slide before. And that’s a GOOD thing. We can use our new-found energy for positive change, both within ourselves and for the world around us.
Another lady, I can’t remember if she quit her job or was fired, but either way she ended up being alone and in that Fertile Void of confusion/change. She lamented “I’m always going to be the fat one”. Then she thought “that’s who I was in the PAST, but is it really who I will be in the future?” So she started little steps towards being healthier, and in time she was helping others by sharing her tips on what worked for her. Now she has this whole organization that helps people. Who she is today is NOT who she was earlier in life. It’s like around 50 is the cut-off, and those of us who struggle in the Fertile Void to grow into our second adulthood will find new sea legs and begin our new lives of hope. Whereas those people who cling to who they used to be – if they don’t look inside themselves and start the journey to grow/change – will end up trying to repeat their childhood persona instead of growing into their second adulthood.
I enjoyed Ms. Levine’s conversational yet factual writing style in 50 Is The New Fifty: Ten Life Lessons. I’d be interested to know if guys feel the same way – how do they handle the reinvention that comes with change, and if they deal with it similarly.