Last Saturday I woke up to the radio newsreader saying that people aged 65 now would, on average, live until the age of 84. In fact for women, the lifespan is 86. My happy mind thought “Great, if that statistic applies to a midlife woman like me in her 50s too then I have another 30 years before I leave this mortal coil. That is three decades. Wow! When I took out a 25 year mortgage in my 20s it seemed a lifetime commitment and when I look back at what I have achieved in the last 30 years, the list is very long indeed.
I tried to remember what it felt like to be 26; what I was doing, where I was living and what my priorities were. So, 30 years ago, I was probably between boyfriends; buying my first flat in London (tiny but mine), and I was in a really exciting and incredibly busy job. I actually had a very senior and responsible job for my age in a dynamic small organisation. I didn’t understand that at the time because I had nothing to compare it with. I didn’t know either that it would be one of very few jobs in which I’d be an employee and that for most of my working life I’d be self-employed or running small businesses with a handful of like-minded people in an industry my 26 year self knew nothing about. I didn’t know that I had yet to meet someone I’d live with for 17 years or that the relationship would end and I’d move on. I didn’t know I’d visit some amazing countries in my 30s but that I wouldn’t ever have children.
So switching the telescope from looking at the past to the future, I have 30 years to achieve some great new things. The experience of being a midlife woman tells me things will happen which will take me down new paths and in directions that right now I can’t imagine. I know there will be things I want which I won’t get, and things that I get which I didn’t ask for but which are great nonetheless, and that some bad stuff will happen too but it will turn out okay. Remember its time and experience that gives you perspective.
So if you are feeling worn down by everyone telling you the bad stuff about being a midlife woman (and that ‘everyone’ may include you) remember life is an adventure. Think positive. It’s time to get excited about the future. Make some plans, think longer term and remember there is lots still to happen.