Last month, I turned 50 and yet the day I turned 40 is still fresh in my memory as if it were yesterday, with my family telling me “life begins at 40″. It seems I have just blinked my eyes and there I am, early in the morning, looking in the mirror at my middle-aged looks and remembering people saying to me, as I was approaching the 50 milestone, “you don’t look it”. What is 50 supposed to look like, anyway?
My skin doesn’t have the natural wrinkles it was supposed to have, although my greying hair makes me seem older. As I never bothered with sophisticated cosmetics, whilst watching other mature ladies doing the contrary to fight off wrinkles, nowadays I wonder if expensive serums really deliver their promised results. So if you are young, maybe the best thing is to save your money for the future, as surely it can be quite tough to be in the red at an advanced age.
I had two birthday parties. The first one was in Brazil, over the Easter holidays when we had a noisy reunion of students who finished John Kennedy High School in 1982, at 17 years old and are turning 50 this year. As we have been to university as well, making different choices in life, we built our own histories but remained in touch since our teens. Once more together, we had a barbecue followed by a cake to celebrate our milestone. All the female talk was about a very positive desire to live longer, as these days we are more aware of our slower metabolism than previous generations. If we want to get slimmer, we should exercise more and eat less. Besides, my friends are trying now to do less of the stuff they don’t enjoy and to focus on the stuff they do.
I also had a birthday party back here in England, where my husband gave me a bunch of tulips, my favourite flowers. Along with tulips, I decided to follow another Dutch tradition, which says that women who turn 50 have “seen Sarah”, so they are given a birthday celebration called a Sarah party, named after Abraham and Sarah in the Bible, to acknowledge their wisdom and experience. A friend of mine baked me a Sarah cake.
I am a lucky woman for having the love and care of my family supporting and encouraging me to manage a turning point such as this with positivity. I am now considered closer to death than birth, as the average life expectancy for a woman in the UK these days is about 82.5 years. Whilst I have aged, my kids have been growing up quickly, my parents are now very old and my friendships have sometimes been growing apart, so these days instead of spending all my time making funeral plans, I prefer to make the most of every single moment I have with my loved ones.
Rather than becoming a grandmother for the first time in my 50s, or at least having a child who is 20, as is the case with many women of my age, I myself was an old mum, so still have young children. The oldest one is 10 and the youngest, 4. Although I find time to see my old Brazilian friends, my main focus is really my kids.
I will never stop worrying about them, it doesn’t matter how much all of us age, but what is good about having ‘seen Sarah’ is that now I definitely accept that my children are not my ‘mini-mes’ and so they won’t naturally follow a prescribed path and I have been bringing them up under less pressure than perhaps if I were younger.
I see that, after four full-term pregnancies, my body no longer has the same shape that caught my husband’s eye 13 years ago and my reflexes have become frustratingly slower. I’ve started to wonder why the manufacturers are now so unkindly making needles with smaller holes, as I struggle to pass the thread when I need to sew clothes.
Why does 50 often focus on the external? Actually, within Sarah’s maturity we can recognise and accept with good humour that our bloom is naturally fading, which is key. We don’t have to keep our vital looks forever and learning to laugh at our bulging stomachs, new veins in our legs, knee and back ache can lead us to be less critical of how we look and therefore help us enter our 50s as the age of true buy nolvadex online with mastercard happiness, with no regrets, jealousy or envy.
So ageing has given me a better perspective on my life, as these days are the moment to put my feet on the ground, leaving behind concerns I used to have in my 20s or 30s, while measuring what important things I can achieve in the time available to me. According to the Americans, I am now ‘over the hill’, but I believe I can still have a good view from that vantage point.
In our youth-obsessed culture, it is understandable that not all women are able to cope with mid-life changes and so experience a decline in confidence and self-worth when facing the prospect of growing older. Although females can’t be considered just a body, it is impossible to deny that attractive people have distinct advantages in our society and thanks to the media and the profitable fashion industry, we have been suffering all the pressure of rigid standards of thinness and youth.
For all these reasons, it sounds artificial when some 50-year-old women claims: that “no, I wouldn’t like to go back to my 20s”, when actually we look in the mirror and expect to see the girl we once were. But older women don’t need to push younger peers down into boiling water. In fact, we have lived, experiencing love, loss, sorrow, juggling careers, marriage, children, looking after older relatives, so we are now able to move on and enjoy our new position: we become the driving engine behind our families.
For women who keep putting down their peers, motivated by only competition, the good news is that when we age and reach 50, any negative behaviour is fortunately modified, as the mature Sarah brings out the best in us. So it is now time to stop comparing ourselves with others and to start raising our self-esteem. If we have inner strength and confidence, we are able to reject current standards of modern life and accept the younger ones for who they are, while really wanting the best for them. After all, it’s their time in life too.
Sarah’s wisdom brought me the acceptance that life is definitely not fair and our world is very dangerous. When I became a 22-year-old lawyer, with all the ideal dreams of youth, somehow I believed that I could help to repair all the unfairness in our society, through hard work and helping other people. But now I know my dreams were unrealistic, so it is wiser to overcome grievance and frustrations and appreciate our blessings. Ageing doesn’t make us able to manage everyday disappointments, but does help us to avoid them.
Feeling invisible, neglected and less worthy is one of the ghosts knocking at the door of mature ladies, as sadly, a lot of what we females go through in advancing age is not being seen or spoken about, which may lead to depression. Sometimes, without realising it, many people think that the needs of older women are unimportant, as if their lives have become suddenly reduced to slippers and TV. So they are ignoring that regardless our ages, all of us need comfort, security and attention.
We human beings tend to gravitate towards certain types of personalities within our own age group, finding it weird that some people choose to cultivate friends from different generations. It is important to bear in mind that ladies in their 50s need support and attention when dealing with the changes brought on by menopause. The sad end of childbearing years, and feeling washed up like eclipsed stars is a valid notion and one that needs to be heard and understood. To become a loner for the first time in life at this stage can be quite distressing, so look for support from family members, very trustworthy friends or even counselling. If there is nobody around you, I suggest the options of adult education, developing a hobby, travel or even getting a pet.
The most important thing for an ageing woman is to speak about her concerns and insecurities, never keeping anything bottled up. What younger people usually ignore is the ability older people have to put things in perspective while concentrating on satisfying more emotional needs. Only when our society finally succeeds in breaking down barriers between ages and investing in interaction among different life experiences will we achieve a richer outcome. We are better and stronger together and should be joining the dreams of young people with the wisdom of Sarah.