Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

With Age Comes Wisdom

I had a birthday last week. Yep, I turned 49.

I always find people’s reactions to birthdays curious. My favorite reaction is when they argue with me, insisting that I can’t possibly be as old as I am. I take those as compliments, assuming it is because I don’t look that old as opposed to not acting my age. 🙂

But I also get a lot of sympathy and dark comments like the end is drawing near. This year I heard a lot of “oh, close one!” or “one more year!” It sounded ominous, as though, when the clock hits 50 it is all downhill from there.

I don’t get worked up about birthdays. I went to work, cranked through paperwork all day. I had a lovely quiet evening at home with my husband and the fabulous cake he baked me. It was a good day.

I did notice something interesting while leaving my office. I realized that despite the years of depression and anxiety, despite the common heart palpitations and shortness of breath, my birthday brought on none of these things. I realized that I felt a sense of peace.

Someone once told me that your 50s are when you finally make friends with yourself. You allow your tolerance of others to overflow onto yourself. You accept things out of your control, and stop struggling to be someone you are not. She told me that in my 50s I will speak my mind more freely and start to finally trust myself.

I had always hoped that this was true. God knows, I have struggled decades, and worn different masks, and silently doubted myself each step of the way. I am tired and I was really hoping that this prophecy would hold up to the years. I thought I would have another year to struggle through before I found that magical enlightenment.

On my birthday, I found myself wondering if perhaps a hint of that magic had come early. Could it be that in my ripe “old” age I am finally coming to terms with who I am and where I am in my life? Could it be that I have found the peace that comes with acceptance of whatever faults I have or mistakes I have made? Perhaps, I have reached the stage in life where I will no longer feel that pressure of the tiny voice in my head saying, “hurry! rush, rush! check off that list of things you have to do, should do, should be! be everything to everybody else!”

Still, days later, I carry this feeling. I like it. I could get used to it. I hope it is here to stay.

I am looking forward to this last year in my 40s with a twinge of excitement and hope. Instead of looking at all the years gone by, I find myself looking toward all the years ahead. And I think to myself that now is the perfect time to do things and try things that have always intrigued me, things that kick up my skirt. You know, now, while I am still “young.” 🙂

I wonder what each week may bring, 51 weeks left until I am 50. Should I do 50 new things? Maybe not all of them need to even be new. Just 50 things that I have wanted to do and have put off doing for whatever reason sounded good at the time…

The possibilities are endless.

2 Comments

  1. Happy Birthday, Cheryl! As someone who was going through major life changes as her 49th year began and ended, I know those feeling you write about. From your description it sounds like the magic did come early—and magic it is! I’m now in the next decade, and I can honestly say it is WONDERFUL to be at a point in life where you stop running and start enjoying. The possibilities ARE endless, and your biggest decision will be where to focus your attention now that you’ve embraced the wonderfulness of your SELF. Congratulations, and welcome!

    • Thank you, Candace! Looking forward to reintroducing myself to Cheryl!

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