I swore it would never happen to me, but it is.
I am turning 50 next month.
Years ago, I dreaded the number—50. Darn, that sucks.
Is it time to give up spunky, passionate romance for dates on the shuffleboard courts? No more afternoon delight—the only delight I will have is getting the ball through the hoop in lawn croquet, then off to a 4:30 p.m. celebratory dinner at Denny’s. Ooh, that senior special. I’m ready!
I got to thinking about love after 50. Statistically, for a single woman, romantic love now is impossible, or so they say. Gotta nab that man when we’re fit and nubile in our 20s—the longer we wait the less chance we have for romance.
However, my recent feeling is that 50 is fabulous, and I’m not going to bore anyone with tiresome clichés.
No, 50 is not the new 30. It’s f*cking 50. Why would we want to go backward? Forward is the only way to mosey toward the sunset, and we should do so with mojo and a swagger in our step.
Why is 50 so fabulous? First, let’s take a look at the past decades.
In my 20s, I fell deeply, madly in love and had my heart broken. Such is life. We can’t escape it. In fact, we should hope for broken hearts, no matter how many pieces they may shatter into. It’s a lesson we all need to learn. We need to know how to love and we need to learn how to overcome heartache.
Yes, I’m here to tell you, heartbreak does make us stronger and wiser. I happen to be an expert in the field.
Our 20s provide us other love lessons as well. I, for one, was a neurotic mess. I was insecure and unsure of my future, and of course made many mistakes, often sabotaging potential relationships with good men. This is nothing to regret. It’s not good to look back and say, “Gosh, if I only married that person, didn’t break up with them, or gave that guy a chance.” All our crazy madness in our 20s was well-meaning and set us off on our path.
We wouldn’t be the wonderful people we are today if it wasn’t for our past “mistakes.”
We hit 30, and it’s time to settle down. Society shakes its stern finger at us: “What are you doing unmarried and single? Are you irresponsible? Do you have commitment issues?”
So, we find someone to pair up with to do the whole life thing.
Sometimes these passions drain, and we get lost as our love is displaced by careers, houses, and materialism. In our 30s, the realization sets in that we’re merely employment statistics attached to credit ratings. It’s enough to dull the heart of even the most passionate spirits.
Our 40s arrive, and it’s time to break free from society’s expectations to “find ourselves.” We send out Amber Alerts for our inner child, unaware they have been standing right before us the whole time. It’s time to play—new sports cars and wild trips to Las Vegas. Some of us find our youth in younger lovers.
But, ultimately, the love we seek is for ourselves. Where did it go? Did we ever really have it? We have gone nearly half a century and we still have no clue what we’re doing.
And then we hit that magic number—50.
Does life and love makes sense now? Nope, but now I don’t give a sh*t.
This is the hysterical irony of life. We spend most of our lives trying so hard to gain something—physical love, success, material items, and even ourselves—only to find out that none of it really matters.
Now, don’t get me wrong—physical, romantic love is f*cking awesome. We all still desire success and it is important to love ourselves, but what 50 has taught me is it is important to just be. Everything is as grand as it is in the moment, and sadly, it took me half a century not only to realize this, but to truly feel it.
This does not in any way demean the importance of other stages in our lives. We need our crazy 20s, our striving 30s, our searching 40s, but as we enter the twilight of our lives we can reap the benefits of all we gained in the process.
So what does this all mean for love at 50?
Throughout our lives, we have various experiences with love—passionate love, secure love, love for our children, our friends, our parents, and now for ourselves. As we grow older, all these experiences become one. Our love is whole.
There is no need to judge it, dissect it, segment it, or quantify it. Love merely exists all around us in varying forms. Despite not being able to touch my toes in the morning and sprouting a few more grey hairs, my vision, or should I say my inner vision, is far greater.
And when I look for a romantic partner, I’m less interested in superficial ideals, but rather a person I genuinely like and care for, someone to laugh with and definitely not someone who takes life too seriously.
I’m no longer trying to reach the pinnacle of success in my career because I’ve come to understand the true value of life, and my care and compassion for family and friends drives me more than what I need for myself.
In a sense, 50 is liberation.
Maybe 50 isn’t just fabulous—it is freedom and it is fun. We have had a lifetime of growing, breaking, achieving, failing, and loving, and now it’s time to take everything we’ve learned, let it all go, and love the life we’ve lived and are living.
Author: Jennifer Ott
Editor: Emily Bartran
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman
Social Editor: Taia Butler