The Best Part About Getting Older
One of the things I love most about getting older is the freedom of midlife, which comes with letting go of worrying about what everyone else is thinking about me – be it my weight, my complete disinterest in cooking, or my control-enthusiast tendencies.
Of course, this freedom of midlife was always available to me, even when I was younger, but the reality is that most of us spend the first half of our lives trying to fit in and win the approval of others.
As Brené Brown says, we are wired for connection and belonging. So, even when this desire leads us to deny our own truth and fills us with uneasiness, we keep at it. We hope that perhaps next time, being who someone else says we should be will actually make us happy.
Mourning the Loss of Youth
Midlife is the spoiler in this game. It brings random hairs on our chins, a line of white roots on our heads, and increasingly deep lines beneath our eyes and along the sides of our smiles. The skin on our hands and décolletage loses its youthful tautness, and our butts no longer resist the pull of gravity like they did in our 20’s.
When we wake up in the morning, things ache and need considerable time to start functioning properly. Even the most traditionally beautiful among us suddenly feel beautiful ‘for our age,’ and it’s hard not to notice when young store clerks call us Ma’am instead of Miss.
But it is precisely because youth is so prized in our society that the erosion of it brings freedom. These external indicators of our age remind us each morning that the chance to attain the ideal we sought so desperately in our 20’s and 30’s has passed. Whether or not we succeeded at following the rules and fitting in before, the spotlight now belongs to the next generation of young women, and perhaps J-Lo, but not to us.
The Erosion of Youth Brings the Freedom of Midlife
This transition can hit hard, and it’s normal to mourn the loss of the spotlight and the romantic gaze of young men and women. But the anonymity of middle-age age also brings liberation to pursue our passions, look how we look without feeling the need to change it, and to behave more authentically without so much fear of judgment. We can spend this time being upset that people aren’t paying as much attention to us as they used to, or we can revel in the newfound opportunity to dance while no one is watching.
Happiness Comes from Trusting Ourselves
Our happiness, at any age, is directly correlated to how closely we honor our truest desires and inner knowing. But it’s very hard to do this when we’re constantly trying to please others. In our 20’s and 30’s, because we thought we stood a chance at succeeding, we often chose to please others instead of ourselves.
In our 40’s and beyond, though, we start to understand how impossible it really is to make others happy and how empty the attempt leaves us feeling. As we let that struggle go, we have an opportunity to start to prioritize ourselves more often and to honor the voice inside of us, telling us what WE want. We have the ultimate freedom of midlife.
The Shift to “Inner Knowing”
These days, I am reading ‘Untamed’, by Glennon Doyle Melton. In it, she talks about her old way of knowing: “looking outward for acceptance, permission, and consensus,” and the shift she has made towards taking her marching orders from her own inner knowing. Like her, I have found that this inner voice doesn’t provide long-range plans with detailed instructions about how to get to our destination.
There is a great deal of uncertainty associated with this way of knowing. It requires courage to let go of wanting to fit in and to allow yourself to trust your inner voice as it gives you guidance that those around you question. At the same time, though, it is truly the only path that will ever provide us with deep inner satisfaction. And I firmly believe that this type of authentic living is what we came here to experience.
The changes and challenges of midlife present the perfect invitation to set off on this other path and to learn to listen to our own inner knowing. Age changes our audience’s expectations of us, leaving us less vulnerable to criticism when we speak our truth.
And we no longer believe we can please everyone even if we wanted to. While there is some sadness associated with the passing of our youth, if we’re open to it, the opportunity before us is far more magnificent than anything we may be leaving behind. I, for one, am excited to pursue it.
Mira Morton, The Bossy Coach
Mira Morton is a Life Coach School certified life and weight loss coach with a love of mindset work, self-help, intuition and spiritual growth. Her coaching incorporates the work of teachers like Eckart Tolle, Abraham, Brené Brown, Caroline Myss and Dr. Gabor Maté. Integrating their teachings into her own life, and helping her clients do the same, is her greatest passion. Mira grew up as an only child with a chronically ill mother – an experience that inspired her personal spiritual journey and her desire to help and support others through their own challenges. She is a wife, step-mom to two amazing young men, ages 18 and 20, a former middle school teacher, and a full time advocate for California’s non-profit children’s hospitals.
Follow Mira Morton on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thebossycoach or visit her on her website at www.thebossycoach.com.
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