It was easy to be vital and an integral part of the fabric of American society during the good times. Middle-class, middle-aged women (and sometimes men) spent easy cash on face-lifts, fast cars to salve their aging egos, second homes and exotic vacations. They were viewed with envy by many young people eager to follow in their footsteps. Fifty is the new 30 became a rallying cry for those able to ward off mid-life crises with more toys, boutique gym memberships and regular Botox injections.
So what is the impact of the ongoing recession on those of us who always knew that 50 is 50? As a middle-class, middle-aged woman, it's been a humbling experience. While I never had a face-lift or a second home, I was casual in my spending. We traveled the world, ate out a lot, and donated a good amount of money to charitable causes as I enjoyed a successful consulting business. "Quit your jobs," I exhorted my women friends, "and start a consulting business so you can be home with your kids after school and on school holidays."
I had a good run: since my daughter's birth in 1992, I've managed to work from home for all but three of those years. I was room mother, attended midday school parties and programs, helped sew costumes for school plays and made more cupcakes than I can recall -- all while maintaining a successful public relations business. Until this year. My major clients -- nonprofit organizations, foundations and small businesses -- all started cutting back on their consulting needs. Others laid off staff who became well-connected competition.
So here I am, for the first time in recent memory, having to craft a compelling resume. Do I include the year I graduated from Washington University? Is it a good thing to say that I have 30 years of experience as a communicator? Will potential employers believe that someone my age understands -- and uses -- social media sites? Am I going to regret scoffing at the idea of Botox and lip injections?
At the end of the day, I claim all of my years and hope that someone will hire me because of all I've learned and done and accomplished. But I confess that in times of economic stress, my years weigh on me in a way that they don't normally. Where I see wisdom, others may see irrelevance. Where I claim perspective, others may see obsolescence. So my resume gets emailed, downloaded, sent around to friends and strangers on a daily basis. Here's an old saying that still resonates: "Hope is the thing with feathers." Do you know what I mean?
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