Earlier this year, I turned 50. It was mostly a non-event as I've been telling people I am 50 since I was 42. Adding years to your actual age always elicits a "you look good for your age" response and I am not against shortening my life span for a compliment.
My life in recent years has been, in short, a massive bore. My kids are growing more independent which abruptly ended my main mission of 20+ years and I found myself not knowing what the hell I found fun anymore. I was stuck in a cycle of work, housework, and going to bed early so I could get up and do it all again.
This was totally not the person I was in my younger days. I was always finding new and fun things to do and had tons of friends to get crazy with. But at age 50 and a relative newcomer to Charlottesville, I did not have any close friendships and was at a loss for how to remedy this. So now I'm boring AND lonely. Stellar.
Then the Gods of Rock n Roll shot a beam of hope my way. In the summer of 2013, Pearl Jam announced they would be playing in Charlottesville as part of their North American tour. Even though I'd been a fan for years, I had never been to one of their concerts and could not believe they were coming here instead of some larger city in Virginia. It was surely a sign from above that I was meant to go.
Tickets sold fast and by the time I got online there were only nosebleed seats left. I would have a better view of Eddie Vedder if I watched a video of the band on my tiny iPhone screen and I get dizzy when I am beyond 30,000 feet above sea level. I vowed to check ticket selling sites closer to the time of the show and went back to being a dullard.
October 29, 2013. The fateful day was here. Pearl Jam was going to be playing right down the street from me and I did not have a ticket. I went online just for fun and checked available tickets. A whole section of awesome seats had just been released! The Gods of Rock n Roll strike again! I had absolutely no reason not to go now except...
I had no one to go with.
Husband was busy with work, children were busy with friends, and the few acquaintances I had made were aghast I was still a Pearl Jam fan and hadn't I grown out of that? With a sigh, I decided I couldn't go. I felt like Mr. Spock in The Wrath of Khan: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of...the one." Then he died. OK, so I wasn't going to die of disappointment but I still felt really bad.
I don't know if it was my old lady crush on Eddie Vedder or pent up frustration of putting everyone else before me that moved me but, the next thing I knew, I had pushed the "Buy Now" button. I was going to see Pearl Jam!
Later that night, I made my way through the arena to my awesome seat. I tried not to feel self-conscious about being alone by telling myself people were looking at me and saying "Day-yum! I wish I were that bad ass!"
I eased past the long line for beer to the soda stand where I purchased a non-diet drink because I was partying and all. Might as well go crazy. I showed the usher my ticket who called me "Ma'am" and gingerly walked me down to my seat like he was afraid I'd fall and break a hip or something.
Of course, there was a sea of empty seats and I plopped my ass right down in the middle of them. Awkward does not even begin to describe how I felt. I felt at any moment my face would appear on the Jumbo Tron with the caption "Apparently Has No Friends."
As time went by, the seats around me began to fill up. One by one, women my age and on their own sat down and looked nervously around them. My posse was here! I introduced myself and said I was there by myself, too. We high-fived and exclaimed "You Rock, Girl!" like we were members of an exclusive super-cool bitches club. All of us had the same experience of wanting to go but could find no one to join us yet we all found the courage to do something that we wanted to do.
One of my new friends said "I'm going to get a beer." Another sarcastically replied "Oh do you need someone to go with you?" AS IF! We all bwah-ha-ha-ed and reveled in our collective independent awesomeness.
The concert was the most amazing show I have ever seen. We all swooned over Eddie, danced, sang, and sat on the backs of our seats when our feet started to hurt. A couple of stoners even offered us a hit off their joint. We politely declined but I know all of us were thinking "we still look cool enough to be offered weed!" Don't judge. Like I said, I'll take any kind of compliment these days.
I left the concert with a renewed spirit. It was more than just a concert, though. It was a declaration of my independence and a revival of a dormant part of me that had been shelved a long time ago. I thanked Pearl Jam and The Gods of Rock n Roll and headed back to my never again dull life and wondered what kind of adventure I'd have next.
Research shows the midlife crisis is largely fiction. People in their 20s and 30s are more likely to experience the kind of "crisis" associated with middle age. Only an estimated 10% of middle-aged people have the classic midlife crisis.
Researchers have found no evidence of the so-called empty nest syndrome. Many parents relish and enjoy the transition, taking pride in the fact that all their child-rearing efforts have paid off, and their offspring are on the road to accomplishing their goals.
Men don't abandon their middle-aged partners for younger trophy wives as the stereotype suggests. Most marriages break up in the first eight years. The recent rise in divorce among the middle-aged is because second unions are breaking up (usually within the first eight years of marriage).
Hot flashes aside, nearly 62% of women in one survey said they felt "only relief" when their periods stopped, while fewer than 2% said they felt "only regret."
Despite the latest hype about testosterone supplements, low sex drive, depression and sagging energy levels were more likely to be caused by stress, poor eating habits and laziness in midlife than lower hormone levels. Meanwhile, many researchers think that warnings about female sexual dysfunction in middle age are highly exaggerated. What may account for women's flagging sexual life is that they are less likely to have a regular partner than men.
It turns out age really is about attitude: Research has found that believing that you can improve your health in middle age actually improves it. A sense of control in midlife can dramatically reduce disability and preserve one's health and independence later in life.
The truth is just the opposite: Many people view midlife as their happiest period. Several surveys have found that while happiness dips in the 40s, people start to feel more content with life after the age of 50.
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