Is This Midlife’s Craziest Myth?
Pulling Back The Curtain..
Let me tell you a little story about Vicky…
Vicky’s been my client for many, many years. And in that time (she wouldn’t mind my telling you) her perspective’s done a 180°.
For years Vicky dreaded retiring. Her husband wanted to head to Florida—and hands down she didn’t. Her son was in New York, her daughter getting married. Vicky thought she’d be isolated, lonely, and at this time of her life? Really wasn’t grooving to a retirement state of mind…
But she took the plunge…
And couldn’t have been more wrong.
Now, if I Zoom Vicky, I can see the happiness in her eyes. She has more friends than ever, she’s at the beach every week, her daughter moved down with her grandson—and Vicky’s life is complete.
But all it took was a little bravery, and embracing the unknown.
And then there’s Randy, who I’ve coached for nearly 5 years….
When we met, Randy was divorced—and sworn off men. Romance was never a topic of conversation. She was closed to any possibility of love, or being in a relationship again.
Randy thought she was happy alone. (At least until she met David at a friend’s cocktail party…)
Or there’s Maggie, who in a matter of years, went from owning her own company, and all the prestige that comes with that—to uncovering chaos behind the scenes, making her escape, and building a new life for herself outside the corporate world.
Now Maggie’s connected to her purpose and (despite her children leaving home) blazes a trail on the board of a local college.
But, why am I telling you all this?
Well, let me be clear with you here: these women might be my clients, but I can’t take ALL the credit for this.
Despite how this might read, it’s not like I spread magic dust on people. (If only it was that easy!)
All of these women have been through a process. It takes time, and it’s super exciting to watch (especially as I struggle right now, to juggle homelife with the needs of my mom).
No, the truth is Vicky, Randy and Maggie all have one big thing in common: they’re radically reframing aging.
They refuse to be cow-towed by the media, bombarding us with pictures of youth and unrealistic expectations of beauty. They ignore the constant calls for botox, nips and tucks—and the need to hold onto some warped notion that success and happiness is the privilege of the young.
Now, of course this doesn’t come without apprehension. Yes, all of these women felt scared and nervous about the future. But they’ve stepped out of their comfort zones, embraced the unknown, and frankly…
They’re killing it.
And they’re not the only ones…
Because I’m noticing a trend. Not only have many celebrity women stopped trying to hide their age (think of the ‘Sarah Jessica Parker Goes Gray!’ headlines that went viral last year) but they’re speaking up about the truth of midlife: that it can be more powerful and fulfilling than ever before.
Just get a load of this:
‘I think women come into their 40s—certainly mid-40s—and think, Oh, this is the beginning of the decline…things start to change and fade in directions that I don’t want them to go in anymore…
‘But I’ve decided, no. We become more woman, more powerful, more sexy… We grow into ourselves more. We have opportunities to speak our mind and not be afraid of what people think of us. And not care what we look like so much.’
- Kate Winslet, 47, on BBC’s Woman’s Hour.
Or as Glennon Doyle, 46, so fantastically puts it:
‘Oh holy yes! Aging is the best thing to ever happen to me. Aging is unbecoming all the women I thought I was supposed to be, and breathing for God’s sake.
‘Aging is like being one of those Russian nesting dolls and peeling off costumes one at a time-till I’m left as that little solid doll. Just that one. Nothing too big or wobbly.
‘I believe the spiritual/official explanation for a wise woman aging is: LOOK AT HER! SHE HAS RUNNETH OUT OF EFFS TO GIVE.
‘Beloveds in your twenties and thirties: It GETS BETTER!!!!!’
And… she’s right.
It’s time to say enough is enough of that ‘I’m too old,’ ‘can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ mentality —
And probably one of midlife’s biggest, ugliest, craziest myths.
And what’s more, believing myths around aging literally harms our health, and makes us more vulnerable to the fears we hold onto as we get older.
But what can you do, day to day, to change your internal narrative around midlife. Well, you can start by remembering there are plenty of inspiring women who are choosing this path and then surround yourself with knowledge and support to age powerfully.
Know this: you’re not too old, and it’s never too late.
And, even if you can’t quite feel that ‘aging is the best thing to ever happen to you,’ taking a leaf out of Jamie Lee Curtis’s book is a not a bad place to start:
‘My motto is, ‘If not now, when? And, if not me, who?’ And, that has unleashed me and freed me, and allowed me to do everything I’m doing with zero attachment.’
- Jamie Lee Curtis, 64.
Amen to that.
P.S. On going gray, SJP said, ‘it became months and months of conversation about how brave I am for having gray hair… I was like, please please applaud someone else’s courage on something!
‘We spend so much time talking about the accumulation of time spent adding up in wrinkles, and it’s the weirdest thing that we don’t say it adds up to being better at your job, better as a friend, better as a daughter, better as a partner, better as a caregiver, better as a sister…’
Yup, surround yourself with inspirational women—and the impact on your mindset, outlook and actions will be profound.