"Welcome to middle age!" declares an advertising campaign for Philosophy starring Ellen Pompeo that I keep seeing online. "From here on it's a steady decline into old age and cultural insignificance!"
The ad got my attention because I'll be turning 45 early next year. I guess it's time to face the stone cold truth: I'm middle aged. (According to a survey the Huffington Post reported on, some people believe you can be middle aged as young as 35 years old. Zoinks.)
This is certainly not a day that I was thinking about when I was playing with Fisher-Price toys and watching New Zoo Revue. I'm sure there's never been a time when any of us '70s kids were pondering what life would be like by middle age. I always felt that middle age was something that only affected men, and was a sickness that made them want to ditch their first wife for a younger woman and a Corvette convertible. Didn't we all think we'd be young forever?
But the good news is, it's not all Geritol and 4 PM dinners once you hit your mid-40s today. Not even close. A few years back, when I was turning 40, I wrote about the differences between women in their 40s in past decades and how they were perceived vs. today. Now that I'm 44 I honestly see no difference, but I will admit this seemed to be the year that I noticed ever-so-slight changes in my body and my way of approaching things in life. So here's a list of my personal observations on what middle age is REALLY like. Maybe my fellow Generation Xers will think this sounds familiar?
This Mid-Life Crisis Thing Is a Real Thing
At least, I think it is...and not just for men. I've had a few fleeting moments of panic recently like omigod, am I EVER going to create the life that I want?
To quote a moment from a presidential debate several years ago, who am I? Why am I here?
Trust me, once you've been laid off five times over the course of your 9 to 5 career you start to wonder if the universe is trying to deliver the same message yet again. Maybe the corporate life is not for me, or maybe I just haven't found the right fit and the right company yet. And once you hit a certain age you realize you don't want to waste any more time feeling unhappy and unfulfilled at the way you earn your pay. That is why I feel in my heart I should pursue some kind of writing career. I purchased an online freelance magazine writing course through MediaBistro recently, and I'm seeing all kinds of opportunities after watching the first few lessons. Keep buggering on, as Winston Churchill said. He also said, "When you're going through hell, keep going." I believe this marks a turning point in my life and that the best is yet to come.
Grey Hairs...Just Not Necessarily On My Head
Too much information? But this is the ugly truth that I NEVER hear anyone of a certain age talk about. I apologize if it sounds nasty, but this has bothered me in recent years more than anything else about getting older -- to the point that I even lamented to my hair stylist about it, and she bust out laughing because she could relate to it and she's a good ten years younger than me. My regular ladyscaping keeps any color changes fairly unnoticeable, but I know the day will come when I'm faced with one or two options: go completely bare down there with a Brazilian bikini wax (I'd rather have a pelvic and a dental exam...at the same time) or invest in a box of Betty hair color, "for the hair down there." Then the carpet will finally match my synthetically blonde-colored drapes.
Speaking of hair, I've occasionally had to pluck stray ones that have Brillo-pad consistency out of my chin for the past ten years. Let's hope those don't proliferate.
Do These Reading Glasses Make Me Look Sexy?
A couple of months ago, I started wondering why ordinary print in books and magazines started to look a little fuzzy to me, even while wearing my contact lenses. Uh, oh. My mother gave me a pair of her reading glasses and it cleared up instantly. Say it isn't so. I'm overdue for my regular eye exam and I'm afraid I'm going to need bi-focal contacts or something (I can read just fine using my regular prescription glasses.)
I Think Younger People and Their Music Are Messed Up
I guess that's been fairly obvious from some of the shots I've taken at Millennials lately; namely, their Pokemon obsession and the banality of today's pop music. It's been said that once you can't stomach modern music you've officially become the old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn.
(And by the way, I don't think all Millennials can be generalized and put into the same negative categories. Maybe about 69.9% of them...ha ha.)
And be prepared...I started writing an upcoming blog post about how f*&^ed up college students are today. You're all gonna love it!
Not to gross everyone out again but my period is late, and trust me, it's not because I'm pregnant. It seems the ovarian engine is starting to sputter a bit. I'm not happy about that. And yet I'm lucky and grateful; I've heard of women much younger than I am going into perimenopause. Farewell, child-bearing years, even though I always knew I never wanted to use you for that purpose. It was a good, long run while it lasted. Next stop: Hot Flash City.
OK, so enough with the downers about mid-life. There are some pros to getting older, too...
I No Longer Give a ^%$# What Anyone Thinks Of Me
I hate the low self-esteem that plaques so many of us, particularly women, in our 20s and 30s. Does my hair look OK? Am I wearing the right outfit? Will everyone I meet at the party like me? Do I look sexy enough? Omigod, she said WHAT about me? What if she's right?
I used to worry about what other family members had to say about me and if they were judging the fact that I live with our mother and if they wonder why I'm not married.
Today, I just don't give a rip. As you get older, this way of thinking becomes more plentiful and there's such a freedom in not caring what others think. It's their problem, anyway -- not yours. Besides, they all know that I financially support mom; she gets money from me, not the other way around. And speaking of which...
I Believe In Honesty and Authenticity
A friend of mine was horrified the other day when I said that if I decide to do online dating again, I'm going to be honest about my living and job situation. She said I shouldn't reveal that information right away; that a man should slowly find that out.
I disagree. By putting it out there right away, I'm weeding out anyone that has a problem with it. And besides, I like being honest. Online dating profiles usually contain anything BUT honesty. So why not buck the trend? And if they don't like it? See my previous point, above.
Years ago, during another lay-off period, I did list exactly all that in my profile. And if it turned anyone off, no one told me. In fact I got more compliments from men on that profile that any other I previously posted..."This is the most honest profile I think I've read on here," said one. It was the highest compliment I could have received.
Besides, if you want to attract an honest partner, you have to be vibrating and putting that out there to the universe.
I More Easily Leave The Past Behind
Well, not the pop culture past, fortunately. My personal past. As you get older you realize (hopefully) that all you have is the present moment, so you might as well make the most of it. You can't change anything that happened in the past, so you gotta let it go and move on.
I Don't Feel 44
The above photo was taken last weekend in Newport, RI. (By the way, that is the Audrain Auto Museum in Newport. We didn't have time on this day trip to visit, but it's definitely a must for next time! And hell, yeah: Route 66 Corvette, baby!) I may be 44, but I think I'm doing a good job taking care of myself so not only do I not feel 44 most of the time, I don't think I look the age, either. I've always been thin and enjoy working out...let's hope the hormones don't wreck havoc with that, but I plan to remain active and enjoy regular workouts for as long as possible.
Here's a beauty secret for you: I recently started taking Collagen + vitamin C supplements on a daily basis. Too soon to tell if they've had an effect, but they're supposed to plump up any wrinkles and counteract sagging as well as promote hair and nail growth. I also use sunscreen and sun protection, drink a ton of water daily, and get plenty of sleep in addition to eating healthy most of the time.
(I said most. I do indulge...dark chocolate, dessert, cheese, etc. I just don't binge or go overboard.)
By the way, I definitely cannot drink more than one mixed cocktail anymore; that's another message my body has been sending me. Two will easily hang me over the next day. I've never been much of a drinker, anyway, so it's no loss.
So for my fellow 40-somethings and those of you that are older, there's still hope. We're officially like wine: we get better with age.