A positive from 2020
2020 has been a challenging and very different year for us all. On the positive side, it’s given us a lot of time for reflection. For me has come a realisation that I’ve become much more introspective in my 50’s than I’ve ever been before.
The decade by decade shift
With every decade we learn and grow and as we move into the next there is a shift as we become a newer evolved version of ourselves. I’m finding that there is a much ‘deeper’ shift within ourselves during our 50’s than there ever was during any other decade before this one.
IN OUR 20’s, my generation mostly (but not all) got married, saved for a house, worked and generally started a family. I was very much aware of doing what was I believed was expected of me. I kept quiet, did what I was told, and was eager to please everyone. For me, it wasn’t until I was 28 that I became a mother. In my day, that was considered quite a late start!
IN OUR 30’s many of us (but not all of us) are raising a family whilst juggling a job, running a house, keeping ourselves and everyone else fit and healthy, remembering everyone’s commitments and appointments, trying to maintain friendships, and so much more. During this decade I was still very focussed on doing what I believed was expected of me and trying to be the best at everything – good mother, good workmate, good worker, fit and trim, good participation at schools (I was always on a committee – from kindy days through to the end of schooling), be a good wife, daughter, sibling, in-law, keep a clean and tidy house, and so on. The 30’s are generally crazy busy years. For me that became the case particularly in the mid 30’s when I returned full-time to the workforce and thus began the pull between my expectations of myself as a mother and my expectations of myself within the workplace. I never felt like I was good enough at either. Guilt became my constant companion.
IN OUR 40’s we’re usually still working but we’re starting to speak up for ourselves a bit more. Less people pleasing and more self awareness. Voicing our opinions becomes more important to us and we start to learn to say NO to whatever we don’t want to do or whatever no longer serves us. The kids are getting older and we’re having to learn to ‘let go’. For many of us these are still crazy busy years still juggling all that I listed above in the 30’s. For me, the 40’s were crazy busy until the tail end of my 40’s when I left my corporate job and that whole corporate world. This is the decade where the consequences of years of people pleasing, perfectionism, trying to be everything to everyone, placing too high expectations on myself, living unknowably with chronic stress, all came to a head. I crashed and burned and was quite unwell, but I rebuilt myself and I learned so much from it.
The 50’s DEEP shift
IN OUR 50’s the shift is so much DEEPER. I can only speak from my own experience, and there would be some differences between men and women in that woman are also experiencing quite significant hormonal shifts.
What we’re generally doing in our 50’s can be so different from person to person. Some still have kids at school, some are empty nesters! Many are still working full-time, some may have reduced to part-time. Some may have retired. Some may have changed to a career better suited to who they are right now. All I can say, is that during our 50’s we are more aware now of what we will tolerate and what we won’t, and what we need to feel happier and more balanced within ourselves.
Here’s a little (not all) of what I’ve experienced:
- A deeper shift than previously experienced with regards to what we can or will tolerate means there is a need to surrender and adapt our lives to accommodate our new selves. Examples for me include:
- No longer able to tolerate living life at a fast pace. Nowadays a slower pace of life is needed and well earned. I said ‘no more’ to my former corporate life which involved early starts, 2 hours of commuting each day, and not getting home till between 6-7pm most days. I don’t crowd my days with appointments or commitments anymore. I spread them out – only 1 to 2 appointments per day and I give myself days with no commitments outside the home whatsoever. I gift myself time, something I had very little of in the previous decades.
- Reduced tolerance for noise & crowds. I avoid them or choose wisely which noise and crowds I’m willing to expose myself to. Some are more tolerable than others! For example – the Adele concert I went to in Brisbane in 2017 had over 60,000 people at it but I love Adele, was so excited to be there and see her live, and I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, so I managed. Whereas if you put me in a crowded shopping centre with high pitched squealing children mixed with that annoyingly loud shop music, it’s like jackhammers in my head and I don’t manage that very well at all. We’re all different! Of course crowds haven’t really been a problem in 2020 have they?!!
- Reduced tolerance for over inflated ego’s, bullying and gossip and cr*p like that! Leaving the workforce has removed a lot of that from my life and I’m selective about who I spend my time with now. No time for those that cause energy drain but loads of time for those that create energy gain (uplifting, interesting, genuine and fun to be around).
- A deeper resistance to people pleasing. I’m not here to impress anyone anymore. I’m here only to impress me. I need to live with me and so it helps if I can like me! If I can like me then hopefully others will too and if not, so be it. Of course there are still people in our life that we like to please (but because it makes US feel good not because we believe they expect it of us) – e.g. family and close friends – but we do that by being our authentic selves and on our own terms now. We do what feels right to us, no longer what we feel is expected of us.
- A deeper appreciation for what’s important in life – family, inner peace, gratitude, learning to love and accept ourselves.
- A deeper sense of joy from simple things – the healing powers of nature, morning coffee, cool breeze on a hot day, cosy and warm indoors on a cold day, climbing into a comfy bed at the end of the day when tired, a day with no commitments, & more!
- A deeper awareness to notice, feel, absorb, and be present in the moments we spend with those that we love. When you lose a loved one, this becomes important and even more a part of who we are. Mortality has never been more real.
- A much deeper insight with the saying ‘Less is More’. Less stress. Less clutter. Less to clean. Less chaos. Less partying. Less time for BS. Less busy.
- A much deeper insight with the saying ‘Quality over Quantity’. Good quality clothes and shoes are a must for comfort and value for money. Good quality friends are the only kind that we wish to invest our precious time & energy on. There is no time for silly games with those less genuine or aligned to our way of thinking.
- A deeper need for times of solitude. It’s not just an introvert thing. It’s a midlife thing. A balance of social vs solitude time helps to maintain a feeling of order, peace and calm.
- A deeper commitment to caring for our health and wellbeing in all ways – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
The first 50 years are for learning, and the second 50 years are for living. Life just begins when you’re in your 50’s ~ Vi Higginsen
Are you in your 50’s or perhaps moved into your 60’s or beyond? Have you or did you feel the deep shift in your 50’s?
Ciao for now,
I think we do grow and evolve – becoming more confident and less tolerant (of standing by). I hope that the women we raise don’t waste as much time to get to this stage. So much happier with myself now. Now that I am less perfect than I was….youth is (for our generation at least) wasted on the young. There’s a quote floating round ‘Never pick a fight with a woman over 40. They’re full of rage and sick of everyone’s shit”. I love it. Men who mansplain are suddenly shocked I shut them down – or argue their dumb homophobic and misogynistic views….Ha!
I hope that the women we raise don’t waste as much time to stand up for themselves either, and you know what, I’m pretty sure they won’t! They’re a lot more savvy I think. I think that quote is a very wise one by the way! lol
Oh yes, I could relate to a lot of the shifts from our 50s. I guess for me many started earlier because I didn’t have the kids etc…
My 20s were spent trying to work out what I wanted in some ways. Several degrees, different careers, countries and I guess that continued into my early 30s when I finally settled. I remember commenting to a work colleague (who didn’t know my history) that I was ready to start dating (in my early – mid 30s) and she thought that was hilarious. Whereas I was serious. Of course I left all of that too late, or it just wasn’t meant to be.
I think I’m struggling most with the ‘what’s next?’. I realise I’m too young / poor to retire and yet options are really limited for me here.
PS. I should mention… if I could afford to retire (at my age – or before!) I would. If I didn’t feel I HAD to look for a job or be doing something productive I think I’d settle into not-working life better. Do some volunteer stuff, socialise more. But I feel I’m in some weird no man’s land. On unemployment benefits – can’t afford to do stuff, feel like I should be working and have to be looking for jobs. Wondering if I really can afford to be choosy on the job front and where the balance lies between doing something that feels denigrating, demoralising or shatters my self-esteem vs assuming I ‘deserve’ more.
I totally get that there’s a whole other layer to consider when you’re single. My sister (she’s mid 40’s now) is in the same boat. She’s in a well paid job though but it’s very stressful and long hours and she’s never had a break to have & raise children like many women get, even just for a short while. When she hits her 50’s she won’t have the luxury of stepping back from the corporate life like I have. However, she has a good job and a good income. I know that is an added stress for you as jobs/work are so difficult to come by up there where you are. I can understand the conflicting thoughts in your head on what is the right thing to do for you. At least you know the move was a good thing for you in many other ways – your lovely house, a less hectic way of life, and of course you’re much closer to your Mum.
You did a LOT in your 20’s Deb! When I look back, I settled and married way too young but it didn’t seem weird at the time. I wish I’d done a bit of travel and given myself a bit more time to work out who I was. I’m struggling with the what’s next thing too. It’s a weird phase of life. Hard parts to it and lots of good parts too. It’s a time of deep reflection and adjusting our sails.
Min, Such wonderful insights that you share in this post. I see what you describe in my female social circle. I was a rebel in my younger years, always went on my individual path. I’m still a rebel although it’s less of an issue now that I’m older. #lovinlifelinky
I can’t imagine you being a rebel Natalie! I actually was a bit of a rebel in my teens – loved going out, loved partying, loved boys! Need I say more! lol
Hi Min – these are all so true (there’s a blog post in each of them – maybe you should do a series?) My 50’s have marked the time when I’ve finally looked deeper into myself and discovered who I want to be and what I won’t put up with any more. I have one year left and I want to make it the one where I pull all of those lessons together and start my 60’s with a self-assuredness that I’ve missed out on in all the preceding decades. The 50’s have been pretty darn good all in all.
Hi Leanne – Hmmmm a blog post in each of them, a series – now you’ve got me thinking! lol The 50’s sure are a time of deep reflection aren’t they? Wow – one more year left in your 50’s. I’ve got 3 years and 7 months left in mine (I think I calculated that correctly) and I too hope that I’ve got myself sorted before I enter my 60’s. Wonder if I’ll still be blogging. We shall see. I will turn 60 on 31 May 2024. Enjoy your final year in your 50’s and for now have a great day! 🙂
A very interesting proposition with these age categories. Mine would be different to yours as I am about to turn 71 but I would say my 30s were very busy family and career wise, and then as the kids went to school and onto study, the 40s too were huge as I was doing part time study and going further along the education promotions system. So my early 50s were when I broke but I put myself back together again within 18 months and resumed part time grandmothering care and part time teaching. My biggest challenge was to come at 65. That I have mentioned a few times and I still will be blogging that in Telling My Story …and it was not my cancer diagnosis!
I liked reading this a lot and I am so glad you are blogging again.
Thanks Denyse! Even though we’re different ages I think we’ve had similar experiences with each decade. I broke late 40’s. You broke early 50’s. That’s pretty close to the same age. You’ve had many more challenges since then and are a constant source of inspiration to myself and many others! I’m trying to blog once/week but I may not manage it every week and that’s ok. It’s not a paid job – I have to keep reminding myself of that. xo
I’m only in my mid-40’s and much of what you have experienced in your 50’s is what I’ve come to realize in the past few years as well. When I turned to homeschooling my boys (8 years ago) I focused on a lot on simplifying our lives, living a slower pace of life, and had to turn a deaf ear to what people were saying. We only had a couple of family members that homeschooled at the time and we had to make all new friends. Well, we could have kept our old friends but soon found we had not much in common since we no longer bought into the busy rat race and expected pace of life. We dropped all after school activities that anyone was less than passionate about (which turned out to be all of them!) and enjoyed many quiet nights at home as a family. We traveled in the off season when places were least crowded and less noisy. We focused more on relationships and experiences and not things. Up until this year it was amazing how relatively stress- free life could be when you’re not trying to keep up with the Joneses as the saying goes.
Hi Joanne! There’s a lot to be said for simplifying life isn’t there? I like simple, unbusy, uncluttered – such a contrast to my younger self who loved to be on the go all the time, out and about and I loved to party. I live at a much slower pace now and that is much easier to do now that we have no kids at school and I’m no longer in the corporate rat race. Relationships and experiences are far more important than things, I agree with you there. I like your way of thinking! Enjoy those 40’s!! 🙂
This was interesting Min and I can relate to much of it. I am turning 60 next month so am looking at how I’ve changed over the years too.
Thanks Deb. I hope you have something special planned for your 60th! xo