Over the last few months, I have been struggling with turning 50. While there is a lot of credence to the argument that it’s just another year, it’s hard not to look at hitting the half-century mark with just a little bit of ambivalence and wonder.
The dictionary defines the word ambivalence as having equally conflicting feelings about a person or a thing. I define it as being emotionally log jammed. I have so many opposing emotions that I end up feeling stuck, not wanting to move forward and not wanting to go back.
See, the thing is, I don’t really want to BE younger and for the most part, except for those sagging bat wing things I have under my arms (thanks for the genetic code on that Grandma Coyne!) I actually FEEL pretty young. I’ve never been one of those people who thought my best years were behind me, never felt I had peaked or realized my fullest potential. When it comes to aging, I am definitely a glass is half full kind of gal.
As for the future, I generally have an optimistic view as well. So it’s not that I’m afraid of what is to come, at the moment I just feel a little worn out and a little too aware of the inevitability of change.
I remember when I was just out of college, working at one of my first jobs. I had lunch with a temp receptionist who was in her mid-thirties planning her second wedding to a man who was her hairdresser. After only a couple months of being on her own, she agreed to marry a man she openly admitted she wasn’t sure she loved. When I asked her why so moved so quickly she said, “you don’t realize this now because you are so young but time speeds up the older you get. You don’t have forever to get the things you want.”
“That’s impossible,” I said. “The measurement of time is constant. A minute is a minute.”
“Yes, but our experience of time speeds up. You’ll see. When you were a kid summer vacation felt endless and now, all you have to do is blink on Memorial Day and it’s Labor Day.”
She was right.
When I think about my life up to forty, all the milestones, and high and lows feels evenly spread out over what feels like a hundred years but my ten years in my forties feel like they happened in a year. Maybe it is a factor of getting older, but the changes I experienced in my forties were profound, more so than any other decade of my life.
So here I am, on the brink of 50, feeling like the only thing I can count on is that this next decade will probably go by faster than my forties and will be filled with challenges and changes that will continue to amaze me.
Don’t get me wrong…I want it all, the good, bad, and ugly. The older I get the more committed I am to living my life on purpose, with an intent to grow and expand. To be the best Teri I can be…call it Teri version 5.0 if you will.
I am glad we don’t know how our lives will unfold, that we don’t know who will stay, who will go, who will come back and who will show up. I am grateful that the older I get the less I care about pleasing other people. I am happy to know what I know and feel what I feel.
But for now I would like to take a moment, however brief, and not think about the past or look toward the future. I would like to just be still and take shelter inside this ambivalence for a little bit longer.