When a Seventies Child (Me) Becomes Middle Aged

Thursday, September 15, 2016

"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!

Changing Hormones

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.


  1. Well this was incredibly uplifting! LOL, just kidding, Jeff. Everything you listed is completely normal and we'll all go through it. It's all in the mindset...

  2. I'm in my mid-fifties too (going to be 55 next month. I sure don't want to be a Dougie Downer, but I can remember when I was 45 (it's when I started blogging) and still feeling fairly impervious to the ravages of aging--I didnt think I looked all that different from when I was 35.

    I think for many, time catches up with you around age 50. But like you said Pam, I've found the older I get, the more important the mindset is. I don't worry about my hair turning silver anymore and (as you know) I spent the last year going the healthy route and lost 55 pounds. I'm in better shape now than when I was 40. As for you Pam, it looks to me like you've been blessed with some good genes--I'm sure that a lot of women would love to have your slender figure.

    I also think "middle-aged" isn't what it used to be. I look at pics of my grandma at 55, her gray beehive hairdo and chubby jowls and cats eye glasses... maybe I'm fooling myself but I just don't see myself as being that old yet. :)

    1. Congrats, Doug, on the 55 pound weight loss. That is awesome!

      That's true, I think middle aged people in general look young for their age. I think the better you can take care of yourself, the younger you'll look. The first photo at the top of this post is from a Geritol ad, and I used it before in the post I did four years ago about turning 40. The copy for the ad said, "all these women are exactly the same age" and if you read the smaller copy below that, it revealed that that age was 46. Yikes! All but maybe two of them look like grandmas.

  3. I remember this ad very well (and them all being the same age) but wow--only 46! People grew up too fast "in the old days" :)

    1. I really hope several of the models they used were much older than 46 and used for dramatic effect...I have a hard time believing all of them were only 2 years older than I am!

  4. Funny... we're the same age, but you identify yourself as a child of the 70s, while I relate much more with the 80s. My memories of the 70s are fragmented, and the pop culture of the era had less of an impact on me. Is that different with you? Just curious.

    1. Well, Rich, I was born in 1972 so I really consider myself both a '70s and '80s child. And the '80s were my pre-teen and coming of age years and yeah, the memories of that decade are much stronger. Either way, I'm still middle aged.

  5. Well Pam, At least you have hair to turn grey!! Once I hit 55, then, well, things have gotten a little thinner up topside. My younger brother went Howie Mandel bald when he was in his 30s, so I guess I can't complain TOO much. Still it is unnerving. As far as the grey, that's the strange thing - not much except on the chest (which adds manly character of course!!)

  6. I am turning 49 and you are right I don't care what people think of me much anymore, like yesterday I went to work accidentally with my shirt inside out and when someone tactfully pointed this out I just laughed and said I am bringing back the Flashdance look (which by the way millenials may not even know what Flashdance is!

  7. I just turned 60. Yep...officially old. But I still ride my bicycle fairly long distances and pretty much do all the things I've done since I became an adult. While I lived through the 60s I entered junior high and high school in the 70s so that's the decade I associate with. Previous generations sure seemed to look generally older when they reached my age! My oldest daughter is 39...but she looks years younger. Keep the hairstyle you have in the Corvette picture, btw. Longer hair on the ladies seems to subtract years. My wife has a lot of gray but her hair is still long. Just a personal and hopefully not too sexist opinion.

    1. It depends on the woman. The right haircut and sometimes going shorter can make someone look younger. I also can't let my hair get any longer than the photo; mine's fine, straight, and thin (but I have a lot of it.)

  8. I just turned 48 on the 6th of February , and I can relate to your feelings . I have noticed a few gray hairs on my head , alongside the black hairs , and a slight difficulty in reading now . But , I have had people react with astonishment when they find out that I am " THAT old !! "

  9. Thank you Pam, for your open and touchingly funny descriptions of the joys of aging. Oh, as I know it! I am a child of the late sixties (born a few months after the "Summer of Love") and never thought that I would ever be as old as I am. The Who sang "I hope I die before I get old", and I was pretty sure that would happen to me. I did everything I could for it, haha! What it's like to get older when you still feel young, nobody prepares you for that. But as you say, it always depends on mindset. I had an acquaintance at school who was very old at 17. And no matter how old, but I still love to come home at dawn after a night of dancing. I agree with George Bernhard Shaw: "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." So, just don't stop playing! :)


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