[The little graphic that I made is so Pinnable, isn’t it??]
This past week, I became a quinquagenarian. No—it’s not a new dietary category. It’s a person who is between 50 and 59 years old. Yep, I stopped being a quadragenarian and am now a quinquagenarian. (I love dictionaries!!!)
(I also love the F word, and I trust if you’re still reading this after my title, you can handle a few more of them below…)
While I’ve embraced my new kinship with Sally O’Malley, it hasn’t been without some complicated thoughts and feelings.
In many ways, I was “born older,” like Peter Bailey tells his son George in It’s a Wonderful Life. Growing up I heard things like I was “8 going on 48” or asked advice because of my alleged levelheadedness. Responsible Lisa. And my dad’s death shortly after my 21st birthday helped push me further into the grownup category. The world shifted with this new reality.
But this was the same girl who was more than eager to permanently borrow a construction flasher (we returned the horse it was attached to, though)…or free Mr. Flip, the inflatable dolphin in our local pool store (who sadly never survived the jailbreak over the 10’ chain-link fence)…or walk around the neighborhood with a cable remote changing channels through the windows of unsuspecting TV-watchers. (All with dependable accomplices, please note.)
I may have been “born older,” but I’ve also never really lost my youthful mischievousness, er—I mean spirit, either.
So how the f*ck am I 50?
Well, that’s the badge you earn after 18,250 days on this earth. And it’s a badge of honor, isn’t it? I think it is. Especially if you’ve learned some things along the way.
One of the things I know I’ve learned is that I’ve got so much more left to learn!
Over the weekend, my husband threw me a “non-celebration celebration” and did an extremely thoughtful, lovely thing. With help from a dear friend, he amassed a number of letters to me from friends and family, creating a beautiful book as a keepsake for my 50th. As I read through these gracious reflections, I kept thinking how I’d like to meet this person they’re talking about…she seems all right. It certainly couldn’t be me.
And that’s one of the things I’d like to learn for myself in this new half-century…
When people speak kindly of you, believe them.
Just…believe them. Maybe they’re right and that little f*cker of a voice inside your head is wrong. Maybe.
Here are a few more things I’ve either learned or know I need to learn…Can you relate?
When people criticize you, listen, keep it in context, and try to learn from it—but don’t let it gut-punch you so hard that you don’t think you can get back up.
It’s not just compliments that I have a hard time accepting, but criticism, too. Too often I hear, “you did X which made me feel Y” as “you are a total f*cking loser.” Rarely is this the desired outcome from the giver of the criticism. I need to listen with a heart that remembers that. Or…
Stop giving so many f*cks about things that are not worthy of f*ck-giving.
I tend to overthink. I worry. I have anxiety. None of these are helpful. All of them pretty much suck. There is no magical switch to flip and turn it all off, but I think I’m making incremental progress in at least noticing when it happens and trying to diffuse it. That’s something, right? See…here’s me not giving a f*ck whether you agree or not! Progress!
Whether your environment is negative or positive, it will seep into your being. If you can, choose wisely. If you can’t, guard yourself.
Whether it’s situations you are in or people you are with…which “tive” do you want permeating you? Over the last few years, I’ve gone from a negative work environment to a genuinely positive one. I make it a point to note the difference and appreciate it almost every day. Instead of trying to stay positive and not drown while treading water with a cinder block tied to my ankle, I’m buoyed up by the positivity surrounding me. Both colored my world. One with darker colors, one with lighter colors. Lighter is so much f*cking better.
Continue to let go of the control you thought you had but never did.
“Control” has grown into a bit of a curse word for me. I’ve been accused of being controlling, or worse yet, a control freak. (I’m resisting hearing, “you are a total loser” in my head. Kinda.) But with 50 years under my belt, I’ve grown a lot in realizing that the foundation for thinking one is in control is built on sand. It’s a f*cking illusion. As Elsa sings…Let it go. You never had it, anyway.
So little of what I’ve twisted myself into f*cking knots for in life actually matters. So…stop twisting.
In the end, what will matter? What I know for myself is that what matters is doing what I know is right. What God truly calls us to: Love God. Love everyone else. This doesn’t mean losing myself in the process. Not that kind of “love.” No, actually…I think we’re meant to truly find ourselves when we go about living in love.
Ah, life. So much to learn. I’m 50 years into my education…50 years out of? Who the f*ck knows?
To a 20-something, 50 sounds so old. To an 80-something, it sounds downright youthful. But all that really matters is what it feels like to me. And in many ways, it feels like I’m just getting started. How f*cking cool is that?
Grateful. Thankful. Blessed.