What does it mean to be a mature adult? I thought I would sit down and focus on this for a while, so 20 minutes later my serious focusing had resulted in my having put a wash on, emptied the dishwasher and picked some flowers but I had also begun to think….brace yourselves as the half arsed ideas and random thoughts that constitute my brain came up with the following.
I loved my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s and I have no doubt that I will look back on my 50’s with the same rose tinted view that comes from an increasingly unreliable memory. There are though some genuine positives to being a “woman of a certain age” being able to use expressions like that is one of them! Although a number of these positives are also negatives and vice versa for example:
My self confidence has improved as I am no longer pre occupied with what other people think of me. The downside to this however is I have gone from thinking “You probably shouldn’t say that” to “What the hell, lets see what happens”.The people who have known you for years will forgive most things, your new friends will just have to take the rough with the smooth.
All the fillings in my mouth are about 30 years old and beginning to deteriorate, but the good news is that modern fillings dont look like they were made from old car parts and I can actually afford the treatment.
Characteristics that used to be endearing features of your friends, you no longer have any patience for. “She’s such a scatterbrain, she always leaves something behind” said fondly, becomes “For goodness sake, how can she never remember her things, now I’m going to have to post yet more stuff back to her” said very un fondly. Or “You know she’s a little bit hopeless and is always running a bit late” becomes “Why the hell cant she leave enough time to get here”.
Everywhere you look, particularly on Social media, there is a 50 something woman, looking 30, lifting ridiculously heavy weights before rushing off to manage her very successful start up company and brandishing the message that it doesnt matter how old you are, you can do anything you put your mind to. Most of the time I want to put my mind to putting my feet up with a cup of tea and a Netflix series.
A few decades ago, you could drift into your 50’s and 60’s with some travel, weekends with the grandchildren and a bit of light gardening. Now, if you aren’t signing up to 5 marathons in 5 days, you are underachieving. I am full of admiration for these people who are relaunching themselves in the second half of their lives, but its not for everyone. When you are young, you have clear goals, most of them unrealistic, but they are clear and they are yours. As we get older it is important to still have goals, but even more important is to make sure they are yours and not someone else’s.
This brings me on to my thoughts on exercising. I have always loved exercise and its so important to keep moving in some shape or form as we get older, but lately I have noticed several things. I leave home to go to the gym feeling like a fit 30 year old, and this generally lasts until the foot of the stairs leading up to my gym. I have put together a great 1 hour playlist for running and now know the first 4 songs off by heart and the rest of the list is a mystery. I will see someone who I think looks to be a similar age and size to me get off one of the resistance machines, get on it after them and not be able to move the thing because I have forgotten that I am 52 and not the 30 year old that got off the machine before me. The next day I wake up and despite being still alive I find that rigour mortis has set in.
When you are young, you worry about your clothes and your style and fitting in with everyone. Honestly, I would have difficulty picking my 18 year old daughter out of a lineup of other 18 year olds as they all have pony tails, hoodies, skinny jeans and big trainers. When you are younger, if you look the same as everyone else, you’re all good. As you get older you care less about what everyone thinks of your style choices and find your own style. While this is good from the standpoint of confidence and maturity, there are a couple of pitfalls to be wary of. Firstly, buying clothes that are really designed for people far younger than ourselves. Sometimes, I can actually see the shop assistant thinking “keep the receipt so you can bring it back when you discover its for someone half your age”. Secondly if you find yourself looking at any clothes or shoes and thinking “ooh, that looks comfy” walk away immediately as it is either a shapeless kaftan or orthopaedic shoes.
Last but by no means least, travel. This is the perfect one to end on, because travel is life affirming and magical whatever age you are. You may look to travel in more comfort as you get older, but thats all. I still book flights ridiculously early in the morning because I love that excited feeling of having to get up in the middle of the night for a flight. The world is full of wondrous places whatever your age, be it Disneyland or Machu Picchu, there are amazing places to explore and you are never too old or too young for adventure.