Age Myth Over 50 You're Irrelevant
Ask most anyone of “a certain age,” and they can tell you straight up that as you emerge from your 40s, the world looks at you differently, and this goes double for women. But this isn’t a post about looking younger or staving off aging. In fact, quite the opposite. Here we will look time in the eye and say, “bring it.” If you seek to stay engaged in life, then you must recognize your relevance and act accordingly!
The first question to consider in terms of relevance is how you measure it. Comparing yourself to youthful prototypes is the wrong yardstick. It isn’t to say that youth is a bad quality, but it’s only one metric. You are certainly younger today than you will be tomorrow, so we can’t rightfully throw cold water on youth, it’s just that you are more than your age.
You are cumulative wisdom. You have reached milestones and seen a thing or two as you’ve progressed in life, and with that experience comes knowledge and power. The core of your relevance is what you think and do.
Over at MarketWatch, Nancy Schlossberg offers up some tips for how to rethink your definition of self as you get older in her article, “This 88-year-old Has Some Advice About Staying Young—And Happy.” Schlossberg suggests the first step is to address your own age biases. Toss out that notion that after a point on someone’s timeline, certain activities, among them growth, are not “appropriate.” Don’t stifle your possibilities by some predetermined age. Let your desires and abilities guide you forward.
It was Schlossberg’s idea of re-invention that captured my attention. With every change, we have an opportunity of choice and in that thought, we can pivot. Major transitions—the loss of a job, retirement, the loss of a significant person in our lives—can be overwhelming, but these events can be a time to rethink who you want to be. You are not stagnating water but a river that sloshes and splashes along, offering something different with every turn.
The concept of transformation has already played out in your life. Think for a moment of your younger self and some of the pitfalls you encountered. Were you stressed about vocational turns, raising children, and being unsettled in a relationship? You had years ahead of you and may have felt uncertain of reaching your goals. Now time has passed and you’ve met some of your ambitions while others may have faltered.
So, things have changed as they always do, and you are here today, a little different than you were yesterday, and a year ago. You’re older, so what will you do to remain engaged in life and make the most of all that wisdom?
Look to examples around you and embrace them for inspiration. I’m presently reading the book “My Life in France” by Julia Child and her nephew Alex Prud ’homme. As the memoir unfolds we learn that Julia didn’t even start to learn a new language until she was 36, and didn’t collaborate on her book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” until she was in her 40s.
Julia remained steadfast in her pursuits and thrilled in what she was learning. In 1963 – at the tender age of 51 – she became the premier voice of French Cooking for American audiences through the show “The French Chef.” The takeaways of her wonderful adventure could serve as an example for anyone, no matter your age.
What else did I learn?
- Work your purpose. Julia worked for many years without remuneration with a determined goal to learn how to cook French cuisine. As we get to know Julia, we discover her primary measure is always to better herself.
- Do the hard work: You decide what you will do within your abilities and circumstances. Work for yourself each day on your passion, whatever it is, and know that this remains a constant with incremental progress. The greatest return for working is the work itself if you love it.
- Accept mistakes will happen. You’ve heard that it is the journey that matters more than the outcome. Mistakes are part of that mix. Don’t slay yourself for error, but learn and move on. The now is important, more significant than tomorrows no one is guaranteed.
At this moment, as I write these thoughts, I think about my dad, who personified purpose right up to his death. Days before he died, Dad was still signing checks as the treasurer of a small non-profit organization that he and my mother dutifully worked for (and she continues to work for to this day). He was helped in no small part by her dogged determination to keep the nose to the grindstone because being purposeful was important to them both.
When he was informed the fight to stay alive was no longer an option, he transitioned to dying and even did that purposefully. Dad focused inward, and he assured people that he was simply on his final quest, approaching it as a task to complete well.
Relevance – just like any other beauty of self – is in the eyes of the beholder. To remain excited, find, and do what excites you. Then you can look on your years not as a hindrance but as a trophy. Your efforts to be a person of purpose will shine through no matter your age. You are not invisible but invincible because you are older, so long as you keep trying every day.
Journal Prompt: What are your passions? What would you like to re-invent about what you do at this juncture in your life?
Need a little kick of inspiration to live to your fullest? Check out our 50 and invincible, not invisible apron covered in superhero images here.