Loving your age when you’re over 50

Loving your age when you’re over 50

Zelda West-Meades, agony aunt for You magazine in the Mail on Sunday, looks at the positives as we get older.

Zelda West-Meades, agony aunt for You magazine in the Mail on Sunday, looks at the positives as we get older.

Recently, as I was contemplating the title of this article, an email came in from a woman of 24 who wrote: “I keep trying to analyse whether people like me or not.”

It made me reflect on how very different life feels, quite a few years on the other side of 50, from that awful agony of self-consciousness and insecurity that many teenagers and young people experience.

Knowing who you are

One of the great things about ageing is often increased confidence and a greater sense of your own self-worth. Most people I know over 50 don’t really have time to worry if people like them or not. Nor do they care.

By this age, many people will have families and children or a life partner and hopefully at least two or three (often more) long-standing friends who they know love them dearly and who have been with them through thick and thin.

They know they are liked and loved by their nearest and dearest and that’s enough.

Knowing where you’re going

Many people in middle age are often busy juggling a demanding career with home life (perhaps with teenagers), ageing parents, perhaps the risk of redundancy, or all of the above.

By the time you’re in your fifties, a lot of the major decisions and unknowns in life are behind you. Will I get married? Will I have children? Where should I buy a house? It is very liberating not to have to worry about those things anymore and just enjoy what you have.

Knowing what we look like

Of course, it’s never easy looking in the mirror and noticing yet another wrinkle or wondering who the ageing stranger is looking back at us. And who doesn’t sigh as they have to fish their reading glasses out of their handbag or pocket every time they want to answer a text?

But hopefully we will have the wisdom at this age to know better than to value ourselves only on our appearance.

While of course it’s possible to be attractive and glamorous well into our sixties, seventies and eighties, we know that people value us more for our kindness, our sense of humour, our wisdom and the knowledge and experience we have gained from life.

We don’t have to put pressure on ourselves to look perfect or to be perfect. Like Bridget Jones, we are perfect just as we are.

Knowing who to count on

Inevitably, there are more serious problems to ageing. Our own health and that of our parents and partners can bring very difficult challenges. It’s at times like this that it’s important to lean on family, the network of friends that we have built up over the years, and of course, our children.

Knowing when to accept help

Once you are in your seventies or eighties, those people you love may want to thank you for looking after them all those years by looking after you a bit. Let them – whether that’s sorting out your computer problems or allowing them do some gardening or jobs around the house that you just might not have the energy for anymore.

Knowing our limits

Perhaps the trick to embracing the age we are is managing our expectations.

If we are lucky, we may have our health and fitness well into old age. Certainly many people are fiercely independent and insist that they can still do everything they used to do when they were younger.

If we can’t, however, it is lovely to be able to enjoy the youth and energy of our children or grandchildren or those of our friends.

To watch a five-year-old run across the garden with carefree delight or listen to an excited teenager telling you about a rock concert she is going to are joys that are truly life enhancing.

And finally…

If you really can’t bear the thought of not being 18 any more, there is always the growing-old-disgracefully option, as epitomised by Jilly Cooper in the Daily Mail last month.

“My 80th birthday was heaven,” she was quoted as saying. “The drawing room was full of gorgeous men and I was drunk for a fortnight. So lovely.”

Cheers to that!

How are you embracing getting older? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

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