Age V Attitude
New lease of life at 50
“Yeah well, I’m 50 now, winding down towards my retirement...”
I was quite taken aback. I couldn’t quite get my head around this statement. To me hitting 50 had brought a new lease of life. I’d started a business that I loved with a passion. Met the love of my life and was feeling the best I had in years in terms of my mental health and wellbeing. There is no way I’ll be looking at a retirement village brochure just yet. (Although I have discovered that 55 is the lower age limit for some of them!) I’m absolutely of the mind that it’s not about your age but more about attitude.
For many of us ‘Baby Boomers’ (born 1946-64) and ‘Generation X’ (1965-80) folk our retirement age is much later than it was for our parents. Even the default retirement age of 65 no longer exists. There’s a pension checker widget on the Gov website where you can check your date for being eligible for claiming the state pension – it’s 2031 for me.
Baby Boomers and social change
The early ‘Boomers’ experienced an enormous amount of social change in the post WW2 years. They were the first ‘teenagers’ who had their own fashion. Prior to that you were either dressed as a child or as an adult – there wasn’t really anything in-between. According to my mum you were at school on a Friday dressed as a child. At work on the following Monday as an adult.
Attitudes, perceptions, behaviours and values have changed dramatically during our lifetimes too. Divorce is more commonplace than it ever was. With massive strides made in technology we straddle both the digital and non-digital age. I remember there being a computer club at school during lunchtimes. I think there were 4 computers! It was a big comprehensive school with probably around 1000 pupils. We all walk around these days with powerful computers in our pockets in the name of a phone.
Turning 50 felt liberating
These days being in your 50’s is not about fading away into the background, biding your time until retirement. As we are working and living longer these days than previous generations. So many of us are seeing the menopausal years as a fresh start. A time for new beginnings. We can be out there, loud and proud. We have so much wisdom and experience to bring to the world of work.
For many though, there’s a trend of starting afresh, becoming self-employed and doing something they’ve always wanted to do. I’m hearing more stories of women who’ve had a career change in their 50’s. I think lockdown made folk reassess their priorities. There’s actually a *thing* called ‘The Great Resignation’ as people recognise there’s more to life than working in a job you’re not loving – especially if we have to do it well into our 60’s, maybe beyond.
I know for me, turning 50 felt quite liberating. It was as if the shackles of worrying about what other people might think or expect had been released. There was a sense of freedom. As if I had permission to reconnect with me. The me that had been muffled and quietened down for a long time. I know I’m not alone. That’s why it’s become my mission over these past few years to empower other women to be more themselves. To feel comfortable in their own skin and to show up in their midlife grey-haired power.
Transitioning to grey hair
Which, incidentally, is another thing lockdown helped with - ditching the hair dye. I speak to so many women who feel liberated and are now embracing their natural hair colour that was once reserved for pensioners. There are some slightly fancier names for it – ‘gronde’ was one I saw recently, also silver, pewter, glitter or wisdom highlights. It’s great to see female celebrities leading the way too – Dawn French is completely rocking her silver quiff. There’s also Emma Thompson, Glenn Close, Helen Mirren and Dame Judi Dench to name a few silver sisters.
If you’re still transitioning or thinking about it ask your hairdresser for highlights or balayage to help you through the growing out stage. I was asked recently about whether grey hair is ageing. To me it’s more about the style and the poor condition that makes you look old. If you have a beautifully cut style that really suits your face shape and you can get a sheen on your locks rather than it looking an unkempt ball of wire wool you are winning. In my opinion it’s best to invest on some quality products to get the shine. However, avoid those purple tint shampoos if you have peachy toned skin. You don’t want the cool (purple) and warm (peach) undertones fighting with each other.
Mutton dressed as lamb
A concern that some women have is about whether they can wear certain items as they get older. We think of the disparaging phrase ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ and whether or not an item of clothing is ‘age appropriate’. As you might think, I say bollocks to age appropriate. It’s more about the style being ‘individual appropriate’. Can you carry it off would be my question? Do you hold yourself confidently when wearing it? If you feel self-conscious the answer is going to be a big fat no.
Being comfortable and confident (comfydent) will come down to your innate style personality and whether or not you have desire to change or explore something new. Perhaps you want to try wearing a quirky hat? If you are experimenting and trying something new it can sometimes feel like quite a stretch even if it is spot-on for you.
Because it is different, your brain can battle with the change and that can feel like quite a stretch outside of your current comfort zone. This is when I recommend “the supermarket test”. This is when you wear the new item out for a brief trip to the supermarket. It’s a good place to be out and about in public but you’re not going to be there for ages if you start to feel self-conscious. Then you increase the time of wearing it incrementally until it feels natural.
FAB Network : female authentic ballsy
If any of this age versus attitude stuff resonates you might want to hop over to the book of face and join my FAB* Network (*female authentic and ballsy). I ’ve created a space for us to hang out. It’s early days yet but already there’s an awesome, warm, supportive vibe. It’s all about a community that is empowering, enlightening, entertaining and energising for us likeminded women.
So, I’m signing off, aged 57 and feel like I’ve got loads of life in me yet. Totally not ready for winding down to retirement, although I am creating more space in my life for ‘me’ time. Which is a different kettle of fish entirely. What about you?
Tagged as: confidence
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