9 Things I Wish I'd Known Before 50
I always thought 50 was so old. Growing up, the neighbours behind us were farmers and their son Wayne used to ride his motorbike up and down their long driveway behind our house. I thought he was so cool, in his early 20's - an acceptable grown-up age.
Being in your 50's to me was a signal that you were an old-timer - grey hair, nanna clothes, slippers, end of the road. So far away from me as a young teen, it seemed inconceivable.
Suddenly now as if through an invisible time portal or a ride on Emmett Brown's DeLorean, I'm nearing 50! The music I listen to is 'classical' or 'hits of the past' or as described by my very own teenage offspring 'olden day music'. Am I now to them what I once thought was 'just so old"?
Seriously it's gone way too fast, and it's only now in my late 40's I realise what I wish I'd realised years ago before I became 'so old'. If you're not already nearing the senior citizen's category like me, take note -
1. Trying to 'fix' other people doesn't work
I spent the majority of my 20's in a relationship which really should have ended much sooner than it did, mostly due to me thinking I could 'fix' that person. I couldn't, and I didn't. Hard lesson. You can be there for people, you can support them, but you can't fix them. That's up to them.
2. People Pleasing, please don't do it!
Who is it helping? I've been there more times than I want to admit, and although sometimes it feels like the most comfortable option, it can turn into a lifelong habit, leaving you feeling resentful and unhappy.
If you have kids, they will be watching you and learning from your example, don't let them go through the anguish or the worry you did or still do. Lead by example and give them a strong foundation.
Ed Sheeran said it best - "I can't tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone."
3. Don't spend time with people who put you down
The ones who make jokes at your expense. The ones who leave you feeling drained. The ones who always have someone or something to complain about or seem to be surrounded by the latest drama and feel the need to share it all. If they continually drain you or make you feel like shit, then back away. These are not your people.
4. Remember what you loved as a child
In my own life, I'd become so preoccupied with being busy, the expectations of others, work, family, kids and doing 'what I should do' that the things I loved got lost. It took a conscious effort to look back and think about what made me happy when I was younger. I remembered how much I loved writing, how I could just get lost in a good book, and how I loved the feel of typing words onto a page to make a story. I'm trying hard to prioritise again, even if that means getting up in the dark before anyone else and just taking the time to write.
Think about the things that excited you when you were younger, do they still? Or does something else spark a feeling of excitement within you? Don't ignore those little clues; they're there for a reason. DO THAT THING!
5. But what will people say?
Don't talk yourself out of doing something you truly want because of what other people might say. Guilty again. Even now, I still struggle. Writing this blog, I'm picturing people sniggering and thinking "who does she think she is?", "seriously, she should get a grip – she thinks she's the next JK Rowling or Virginia Woolf" and then running off to tell anyone who'll listen how full of myself I am.
But if I'm asking you not to regret the chances you didn't take then, and to take them now, I have to take my advice. If you're not doing something out of fear of what others think, then you're keeping that creative part of you in a little prison. If the local gossips talk about you at least, they're leaving someone else alone for a while!
6. Trust your gut
That niggly little voice inside your head telling you something is or isn't right for you. It's there for a reason, listen to it. I've learnt this the hard way on more than one occasion, making myself busy with very 'important' things like ironing hankies and meticulously folding them (now at nearly 50 I'm not even sure what an iron is?). Taking on more than I can manage, so I don't have time to hear the little voice tugging at me, instead of pushing it down further and later wondering why things didn't work out.
7. No one has it all together
Everyone has something going on; even the Jones's up the road who appears to have a perfect life, they've got stuff they don't like to talk about, they've got self-doubt, they don't have it all together all of the time. Do a google search - there are so many 'successful' or famous people who struggle with depression, anxiety or crippling self-doubt; they hide it well or have significant coping mechanisms in place.
8. Be kind
I have never considered myself unkind, but as I get older, I understand how important kindness is. You never know what anyone else is going through and how much a smile or kind gesture might mean to them. It could be the only bright light in a dark day.
9. Laugh, a lot
Genuine laughter can change your whole outlook, it's infectious, and you can't beat that happy feeling. I have days that are shitty, and I don't want to laugh, but luckily, most days are good, and I have people who continually bring laughter into my life. Find things that bring you joy and make you laugh like you did when you were little.
If you've made it to 40 you've been through some shit and you've got more to come. You've fallen, had your heartbroken, dusted yourself off, felt anger, sadness, betrayal, confusion, love, joy, happiness, wonder and all the emotions. So many people don't make it this far, they die with their gifts inside them - don't let that be you.
Find the good stuff, breathe life into your dreams, and make the life one you truly love.
Written By Nicky Williams, a beautiful friend of mine. I loved this article so much I asked if she would allow me to share it on the blog.