Last year I spent much of it in lockdown which meant hours spent at home to do a lot of thinking.
I’m at a time in my life where I’m beginning to think about the next phase of my life. One focused less about work and career and instead, more about being there for my family and spending more time on relationships that will nurture, help and support me.
I guess I’m not the first and last person to think this way as she faces life in her 50s and beyond.
I’m not going to lie, turning the big 5-0 a couple of years back for me was pretty hard mentally. A dawning realisation that when you look in the mirror, you see new wrinkles around the eyes and mouth, the weight takes a longer time to shift, the dull skin sags downwards making you look sad all the time, the makeup sits heavily in all the facial creases, you seem invisible to people in the street who walk into you, your clothes look frumpy and then you catch yourself seeing a side view of your rounded shoulders and soft belly and you realise that youth has well and truly disappeared.
There’s an element of sadness akin to grief that you go through but no one really talks about. I’m unsure if men go through something similar but there’s a part of me that thinks they do, and they may get it even worse than the women.
Anyway, I know a lot of women my age know exactly what I’m talking about.
However with age, also comes about some freedoms and I think that for women we have it lucky in some ways because we are resilient, we have social friendships and we are more likely to step outside our comfort zone.
Yesterday I attended a social event hosted by the French school to see in the new year. I deliberated on whether to attend and in the end, decided that I needed to have more in-person social events after 2020 and leave the “always online” meetups aside. (Yes, they have a place but despite being a fan of online, by far, I’d opt for in-person catch ups any day).
The event was centred around Pastis and Pétanque and I got to try these two new things out yesterday afternoon while meeting new people, practicing a new language I’m learning and enjoying an afternoon out doing a new experience.
While there, leaving aside the pastis drink (which surprisingly tastes like ouzo to me), and pétanque which was a great little game to enjoy, I looked at the crowd and saw many women my age.
Speaking to some of them as to why they are learning French made me realise that there’s something about the freedom of looking forward to our time ahead – once the kids have grown, obligations met, to focus on ourselves once and for all. There’s an acceptance that we have been through the “grief” and acceptance that our life has changed and now it’s time to focus on ourselves.
The women there talked about their new interests and adventures – golf, acting, travel (once it starts again), language, catch ups with girlfriends and this made me feel that I have reached a point in my life where I’m supposed to be exactly where I’m at.
There’s this saying that people often say. “It is what it is”. I feel this way. That is, all my life choices have led me to where I’m at today.
I don’t have to sweat the small stuff like work anymore. I don’t have a point to prove. I don’t need to climb that career ladder. Nor do I have to worry about things I can’t control like getting old.
All I’m here to do is to enjoy the one life that I have. If I choose to do something with the time I have ahead of me – wonderful. If I choose to spend my time on the sofa reading stacks of books beside me or spend it perusing knitting websites planning what to knit or dreaming about more travel – so be it. That’s good too.
No one is forcing me to be anywhere else I need to be; doing anything else I don’t really want to do. My time is mine to do what I want when I want and how I want. There’s a freedom that comes with that and we need not feel guilty about it. It’s in our best interests (and let’s face it, our partners would benefit from us being this way too) to have this mindset.
So learn the pétanque, drink the pastis and think about the things in your life that make it all about you and enjoy. We have one life.