I've spent many years worrying about ridiculous things that either don't matter, or more likely, that I can't do anything about. (I mean how many girls secretly smiled when Baby Got Back started blaring from car stereos?!)
Happily, I've progressed past that life stage. I don't wear my insecurities on my sleeve, or anywhere else. In fact, now that I'm past 50, I personally can attest to the gifts of age. What I've lost in physical stamina and flexibility, I've gained in blissful acceptance and peace of mind. If you've celebrated half a century on earth, or if you're wondering what the future holds, let me share the ten things I no longer worry about:
That my butt is too big. So, my butt is as ample as ever. But I've made peace with it. I buy clothes I like in a size that fits and I move on with my life. (Of course, I do appreciate the irony that big butts are now "in.")
That people won't like me if I say no. After many years of over-extending myself, I figured out that saying "yes" to everybody else means saying "no" to myself. Turning 50 has helped me stop trying to be all things to all people. If I lose a friend because I declined an invitation or a request to volunteer, so be it. (And it turns out that people take a simple "no" a lot better than I imagined they would.)
That a big fight means we're headed for divorce. My husband and I just celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary. We are bonded to each other. We fight less, enjoy each other more and cherish the freedoms age has bestowed (no kids at home to schedule and schlep). Arguing can even be healthy in a marriage, as long as you know how to kiss and make up.
That I have to be a perfect mother. Having children, especially a 20-year-old daughter, can be a great lesson in humility. My daughter regularly reminds me of my shortcomings (i.e. dated clothes, stupid jokes, poor memory and bad cooking/microwaving). Yet, she has helped me embrace all those imperfections--as I recognize that they bother her more than they bother me--and I, more kindly, help her embrace her own. Flaws are human.
That I haven't been the perfect daughter. As your parents age, the criticisms and frustrations you once so freely heaped on them have a way of coming back to you as guilt. How could I have done, said, felt....? I'm happy to say that my mother and my late father accepted the child I was, and let me know they're proud of the adult I became. Today, Mom and I live in the now, where we're both loving -- and both human.
That it will rain on my vacation. My husband has helped me realize that there are things, like the weather, that are just out of my control. Rainy days can be spent sipping champagne on a covered patio in a faraway place, or just relaxing.
That my hair is a disaster. When I was growing up, Peggy Lipton's long, straight blonde hair was the ideal. My hair was curly, frizzy and had a mind of its own. I hated it. And no matter how much blow-drying, straightening and schmutz I applied, I couldn't get it to lie smooth and sleek. Now, I do not care. I wash and towel dry my hair, it curls on its own and I have 30 minutes back in my day.
That I won't have enough money. Oh, I still worry about money, but in a much more existential way. I worry about having enough to retire and do all the things I want to do. I don't worry about being able to launch my children (I've done that) and cover disasters that may never happen. While I am forever tempted by another pair of black shoes (I think I have at least a dozen), there is very little stuff I need at this stage of life.
That I'm not smart enough. Getting older helps you realize just how smart you are. While I can't always remember the name of the 29th President of the United States (Warren Harding) or the capital of Wyoming (Cheyenne), I can tell you pretty darn fast who is an a**hole and who isn't. Your people radar just gets sharper as the years roll by.
That I'll never climb Mt. Everest. Or swim with sharks, or spend a summer hiking the Appalachian Trail, or become proficient in Mandarin, or invent a technology that will make me a gazillionaire. The nice thing about being past-50 is you realize that most of the things that really matter to you, you've done. Oh sure, we all have a few wouldn't-it-be-nice bucket list things to schedule, but I no longer worry about all the roads I didn't travel. I have the spouse I want, the family I want, the career I want and the friends I want; I've enjoyed numerous life experiences, some planned and some serendipitous. I'm not through living, but I'm well past regretting. And that's truly a gift.