Updated: Jul 1, 2021
In 2006, Jay-Z proclaimed that "Thirty's the new twenty." That lyric alone added a whole decade to my youth, beauty, and goals. I was thirty-four at the time, so I became less anxious about getting older and chasing those wild dreams of mine. Then, it was said that 40 was the new 30, 50 the new 40. Pretty much, we were all given permission to feel just as young, beautiful, and capable as the decade before. Yet, each new decade requires something different of us as individuals.
I am pushing 50 hard. I mean, the top of the hourglass is sagging while the bottom is gaining weight. Yet, I feel I'm entering another dimension of youth. One where I am not worried about my biological clock, nor am I worried about babysitters. I no longer obsess if folks don't like me, and more of my inner dialogue becomes outer dialogue. It's like I've entered into a midlife celebration instead of a crisis.
I imagine that women, like men, encounter midlife tremors. A woman might ask herself something like, Am I happy doing all that I'm doing? Am I too old to try something new? My kids are older, so what now? My simple answer - and I mean this in the most loving way - get a life. Too often we, as women, live for our husbands, children, extended family, our jobs, churches, PTA clubs, and then after we have spent ourselves into bankruptcy, we don't even have happiness to show for it.
Several years ago, I came to a what now moment. The cloud had lifted from my career, community, and joy. I didn't know what to do with myself. So, I began distracting my thoughts with Audible books and through journaling. These two self-care activities helped me unearth an inner treasure. I had important stories to tell that might comfort hearts, liberate minds, and bring awareness to human triumph. So, I pursued a new degree in creative writing, made a shift in my career, and even decided on a change of scenery, moving back home from overseas.
Now, you don't have to make a drastic move for a change of scenery. The change can involve a new job, new friends, or a book club. A new and inspiring scene will, no doubt, provide relationships and experiences that adorn you as diamonds to a crown. A change of scenery can also affirm the most authentic parts of you - the qualities that follow you everywhere. I've lived in seven states and two countries, and the qualities that remain are my goofy laugh, my horrible sense of direction, and my incessant pursuit of smiles.
For women approaching the middle of the road like me, those who have graduated from driving kids to soccer practice, or waiting on the perfect man, it's time to have a midlife celebration. Buy a Harley, take a class, get your groove back. Better yet, discover a groove you didn't know existed. But by all means, pursue happiness for yourself as you have done for others.
In my upcoming novel, Sistas in Hong Kong, Serenity has entered into a stale place in her life, career, marriage, mothering, and in her overall get-up-and-go. So, she does what so many of us middle-aged women do when we have exhausted ourselves and wound up in an unsavory place, Serenity gets caught up in someone else's drama, not realizing the happiness in store if she reached for it. And that's my prayer for you as you are reading this, that you position yourself for the joy you want.
What are some of your own personal stories about a middle-age crisis or triumph? Let's talk about it. Comment below.