It is all too apparent none of us are living on the "Benjamin Button" timeline. As I don't intend to add fodder to the excessive lamenting about aging (except maybe in the first few minutes of climbing out of bed), I am choosing a posture of downright celebration, calling out the abundant benefits of each passing year. Here are the things I love about being in my 50s; regardless of our age, these things apply more broadly to the beauty of getting older, and when embraced can perhaps allow you to skip some stages and realize earlier freedom before reaching mid-life.
1. I've stopped attempting to be all things to all people. I've learned to focus on the things I do best, and the people who need them most.
2. "No's" are no longer immediately followed by guilt and second-guessing and "Yeses" have become even more certain and enthusiastic.
3. Life's embarrassing moments have a much shorter smack and now quickly move to my "hilarious memories" file.
4. No one expects me to be the one who knows how to work the remote on the Apple TV (but I do, and I get a kick out of how much it impresses people).
5. I now know there are only a few things in life really worth putting your stake in the ground for--and for those things, I am confident enough to stand up for them with all my might.
6. My relationships are truer and deeper then ever. The friends and family who have endured together through heartache, triumph, loss, conflict, or just a bunch of normal Tuesdays, are those who I now truly know -- and feel deeply known by.
7. Glasses have become a fun fashion accessory (albeit a total necessity). They are also a handy prop for slipping into a sage-esque alter ego, should the need arise.
8. I no longer feel a strong desire to be the one who is right. I simply want truth to be found, regardless of who points to it.
9. I've learned how to make really amazing lasagna because I no longer feel captive to recipes.
10. I've embraced YOLO more than FOMO (for my friends without a 19-year-old daughter as an interpreter, that's "you only live once" and "fear of missing out").
11. Now that my daughter is grown, I get to spend my time in awe of the woman she's become instead of worrying about what she might become, navigating the dance of both speaking up and shutting up.
12. I've found a liberating simplicity, going through drawers and closets letting go of "stuff."
13. If I overreact or get a little teary, I can slough it off with a little laugh, muttering something about "hormones."
14. I've let go of "balance." It really doesn't exist. Instead, there is a willingness to let go of what doesn't matter for the sake of the things that do and doing them fully.
15. I've learned true strength is rarely obvious and never self-promoting.
16. The phrase "Actually, I'm going to bed" rolls off the tongue, with a lilt of triumph.
17. Research has shown that cognitively, we are at our highest point between the ages of 40 and 68. We more quickly solve problems and recognize patterns (which has definitely strengthened my position when stressing a point with my husband).
18. I've embraced the power of admitting I don't know how to do something (which has also strengthened my position when my husband is stressing a point with me).
19. My husband and I now value one another's differences.
20. I've seen that the core of business is solving problems. When problems come up, it is not a crisis -- it's the job.
21. I know that no problem to be solved is more important than a person to be loved.
22. I'm one step closer to getting away with those quippy truisms that the Dowager Countess of Grantham can cunningly slip in.
23. With time comes more great stories. I have a treasure trove of zingers (both heartfelt and hilarious) that I can bring out at dinner parties.
24. I have "gotten complete" with my past. I know my story, the parts of it I want to carry forward, and the parts I want to leave behind.
25. For the first time in my life, the President of the United States is younger than me, giving me the opportunity to say "Well, when I was your age ..." with an air of wisdom, should I ever meet him.
26. I no longer care if I get the credit. In fact, it can be a fun game to avoid it.
27. Research show that three quarters of women in their 50s feel more confident than ever before (which may be why I'm so much better at getting out of speeding tickets; wait -- should I not be proud of that?)
28. As women age, we are more willing to take risks (while men grow more risk averse). Because ... YOLO.
29. I've learned that if I give any time to comparison, I lose time I could be using to love life and people better.
30. I am more able to see how "this OR that" can be "this AND that" through increasing sophistication of thought.
31. I now assume the best about people's intentions. This one action breathes abundant grace into all relationships.
32. Tough conversations are no longer something to put off, but rather something to go after with boldness.
33. I am eager to both give and receive feedback and understand that both postures take intense humility. I'm willing to risk a little bit of relational equity for the greater good of speaking and hearing truth that yields growth.
34. They say, "It's not what you know, but who you know," but there is also some truth in "who you know won't want to know you for long if you don't know much."
35. My days are always better when they start out with a yummy breakfast, and end with a yummy dinner. Good food does enough for my spirit to allow a few extra pounds.
36. I love my mom and dad more than I ever have in my life.
37. My grandfather was right; you'll never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul so be generous while you can enjoy seeing the difference it makes.
No matter your age, what are the things you love most about the decade you're in?