Not that I’m trying to rush the event or anything (believe me!), but lately I’ve been freaking out thinking a lot about my next “milestone” birthday and trying to reconcile my concept of myself with this new, unfamiliar, and (I confess) distinctly uncomfortable age.
Fifty. 50. Five-Zero. The Big 5-0. Half a century.
OK, so it’s not for a couple of years. Three (and a bit), actually.
But it’s out there.
And it’s not right. It just doesn’t fit.
In one of my favourite movies, When Harry Met Sally, Sally (played by Meg Ryan) has a scene with Harry (played by Billy Crystal) where some unexpected news about a former relationship has triggered her anxieties about aging.
Sally: And I’m gonna be forty.
Harry: In eight years.
Sally: But it’s there. It’s just sitting there, like some big dead end.
I totally get that panic. (And I’m far closer to 50 than Sally was to 40!)
I don’t remember being quite this discomfited by previous milestone birthdays. Sure, I may have made the odd playful joke about getting old as I approached 30 (knowing that in truth I really wasn’t), or quipped that it was “all downhill from here!” when I hit 40 (even though in many ways I’d never felt better) – but truthfully, the next birthday has always been, more or less, something I shrugged into fairly easily, quickly adjusting the fit and moving on into the next season of my life.
But 50. This is different.
Even though I technically (and quietly) arrived at mid-life several years ago, 50 boldly trumpets the fact.
Even though I know that, had I chosen to have children, I am old enough now to be a grandmother (and have, in fact, been so for several years), 50 assures me that there’s absolutely no doubt about it.
Even though I still feel, both mentally and (mostly) physically, as though I’m in my very early 30s, 50 reminds me that I’ll have passed the thirtieth anniversary of my high school graduation.
In the immortal words of Talking Heads, I ask myself, “Well? How did I get here?!”
It seems unbelievable. And awkward. And wrong… so very, very wrong.
Fortunately I still have three (and a bit) years to get used to the idea of me… me!… turning 50. Three (and a bit) years to prepare myself to arrive at the mid-century mark with at least a modicum of grace. Three (and a bit) years to learn to embrace – maybe even celebrate – this milestone birthday.
I think I’m going to need all the time I can get!
Any suggestions from your own experience? Please share!