A NEW LIFE CHAPTER | THOUGHTS ON TURNING 50
Following on from my very last blog post on Online Stylist, this one takes a partial extract from there and delves a little deeper into turning fifty and my approach to this next life chapter.
In May this year I finally turned fifty. I say finally as I’d been counting down for a L O N G time - since before I was forty nine in fact. I’m sure you often felt the pain of my banging on about it if you were an Online Stylist reader or if we chat over on Instagram. What can I say? I was very excited about the prospect! Let’s just say that I’m well known for always being the one to make a celebration out of the smallest life event. So I’m sure you can imagine the wealth of possibilities that were ready and waiting in this one - it had to be milked for all it was worth!
What made it even more exciting was knowing that I was growing and nurturing this very secret - the final stages of simply START living were coming to fruition just as the birthday celebrations were kicking off. For that reason, I wanted to keep the changeover under wraps so that I didn’t have to deal with any self-induced pressure around timings. It also gave me the chance to deal with everything else on the extensive admin list that needed sorting out before I was finally able to press publish. And it made the whole thing so much more enjoyable and a lot less stressful too. Back in 2017 when I rebranded Online Stylist, I made a big pre-launch song and dance about it throughout the lead-up and in all honesty, it felt like it just came back to bite me on the arse so it had to be different this time.
Looking For Momentous...
But back to fifty. Because fifty feels like a big deal.
Forty was a big deal... and if I hadn't made it such a big deal, I probably wouldn't have become a blogger at the age of thirty nine. Funny how fate lends a hand isn’t it? And here I am, eleven years in blogging, still high on a glorious trip to Italy that completed the birthday celebrations and now, with a new platform upon which to continue my online creative endeavours. All of which, have helped to make this birthday a momentous one.
Maybe I was looking for momentous in order to distract from the pain of having a birthday without my mum for the first time… and a milestone birthday at that. The first year without her to call me up and sing Happy Birthday until I would roll my eyes and squeal with embarrassment for her to stop. And then later on, she’d turn up straight from a visit to our local beach, bearing gifts and a balloon (because you’re never too old for a balloon!) and then proceed to walk sand all through the house. It’s funny how the things that used to annoy the crap out of you become the very first things you miss and remember fondly when you lose a loved one.
This one was always going to be a tough one but I felt I had more than enough love given without question or hesitation by my friends and family to make it all okay. And it was.
Thoughts On Turning Fifty...
If you’re on the approach to this momentous midlife milestone in one, two, ten or even twenty years from now, I wanted to share what it feels like. I’m extremely grateful and glad to have turned fifty in a time when the tide seems to be finally turning toward a more age positive society, especially where women are concerned. Although it still feels like there’s such a very long way to go in so many respects. You only have to pick up a collection of particular newspapers or give a cursory scan through any number of anti-aging products aimed at women to scratch the surface of what I’m talking about. But let’s focus on the positives for here and now.
My thoughts on reaching midlife have been forming since before I hit forty eight and if I had to sum them up, I would say they keep coming back to the words evolve and embrace. The years ahead are coming whether you want them to or not, so they may as well be embraced and explored for the new opportunities that they can bring to the table.
To keep evolving is a given for me. I feel lucky to work in an industry that itself is evolving at a crazily alarming rate sometimes and whilst that kind of carries me along for the ride, I don’t for one minute feel I need to keep up with all of it, all of the time. But it has taught me to keep tabs on the state of play, cherry pick what’s right for me and my readers and challenge myself enough to maintain a high level of enthusiasm. I swear that doing what I do here has been one of the key factors these last few months in helping me make it through some tough times, relatively unscathed.
Fifty is about being age positive and loving the life I already live, the woman I am and the skin I'm in. It is, as a good friend recently and very succinctly phrased it, about practicing the fine art of not giving a shit. And this by the way can be done with goodness and grace - you don’t have to turn into a complete arse in order to worry less what others may (or may not) think of you.
Acceptance + Rebellion
I believe feelings like these start with a small fire inside and show themselves as the face you turn to the world that says “This is me... like it or not. Take me as you find me. Don’t compare me to unrealistic ideals. Do look for the things that warrant a second glance, raise a smile or make you lean in closer to hear what I’m saying.”
It feels like both acceptance and rebellion at the same time. Acceptance of what life throws my way from here on in but also rebellion against the ingrained standards of what life was once supposed to look like by the time you reached this half-century point. If I want to get a tattoo I will. If I want to let the grey hair come through and enhance it to an even whiter grey, I will. If I want to only wear black, white, grey or beige, I can. If I want to close down my old blog and start a brand new one, that’s entirely up to me.
In many ways, fifty feels unashamedly about self. Self-acceptance, self-awareness and self-care too. I plan on practicing all of these without guilt, regret or a moment more of hesitation. As someone commented recently either on the blog or on an Instagram post, it’s a shame that we have to wait until we turn fifty to feel and embrace all of these things. Perhaps we don’t. Perhaps that’s just my generation or personality type - who knows.
Whatever the reason for the waking up to the opportunities of a new life chapter, I fully intend to make the most of it from here on in.