Midlife Women are a Hot Topic
I’m 50 and I’ve been noticing all of the hype about women getting older and owning it. And while I love the fact that midlife women aren’t invisible anymore and people are learning what perimenopause is, there’s something about the dialogue that’s bothering me. It’s almost as though there’s a caricature being put forth. It’s like the “Cool Girl” trope has been adapted for the older age range.
Behold the Cool Modern Midlife Woman
- She is at the peak of her career after years of hard work and money is awesome
- She has figured out how to be there for her family without losing sight of her own needs
- She’s confident, bold, and has a gaggle of friends to be confident and bold with
- She is self-sufficient, travels and tries new things, successfully
- Speaking of self-sufficiency, if she doesn’t have a partner she has toys
- She’s past caring what other people think and she doesn’t need to impress anyone
- She has a plan for what’s next and it’s all inspiring and ambitious
- To her, men are… either a problem created by society, or lovely and not too relevant
- The new older woman glows from within and looks fabulous because she knows her style
- She has learned to love herself, accept herself and lives each day with gratitude (because of course she listens to the Mel Robbins podcast)
What have I missed???
You Are Fine
My take? This is a lot of pressure.
I’m seeing these amazing women who seem to believe in the trope and feel like they’re behind or it’s too late to get on track. They blame themselves because they aren’t living this life and they are stressed out and tired by the anticipation of playing catch-up for the rest of their life.
I’m calling bullshit. No one is “behind” or “playing catch-up” if they haven’t ticked the boxes by a certain age. There is no official committee that decides what age exactly “too late” is, or a master list of people who are “behind” in life.
Real Life for Midlife Women
Life is messy and complicated. Real midlife women have problems, and shit that gets in the way. I barely know any women whose career path looked like they thought it would, and for many, they aren’t quite where they thought they would be, or they want a bigger change now than they thought they would.
Some women got distracted by one part of their life, neglected another, and now want to deal with the imbalance. People pleasing, self-doubt, and prioritizing the needs of others above your own isn’t something you just naturally age out of.
The pandemic created or revealed a gap for many women when it comes to friendships and communities but society tells us it’s hard to make new friends when you’re older and you should already have enough.
Becoming The Cool Modern Midlife Woman™ seems like a lot of time and energy and I don’t know anyone who has a lot of both to spare.
All that matters is where you are now, and you get to decide what matters next.
You Get To Decide Who “Midlife You” Is
There are some serious perks to having been around a while because you’ve had a long time to observe yourself. You’ve seen yourself at your best and at your worst. You’ve most likely made some huge mistakes but you’ve survived them. Stuff has happened to you and you’ve dealt with it. You know what’s working and what you’ve figured out, where you are satisfied and you know where there’s something missing.
Here’s the deal: You’re the only one who gets to decide who you want the older version of you to be. You can continue on the path you’re on, and that might be great! If it’s been pretty good so far, it will most likely continue to be. Or you can make a bolder decision to stop settling for the stuff that isn’t working for you anymore.
That means taking time to imagine what it could be like if it were different (it’s often easier to know what isn’t working than what we want instead). It means examining your autopilot settings, questioning how you’ve been doing things, and doing new things in a new way.
Part of the fun of that is that people don’t really expect it of us and it’s amusing to surprise people. But more importantly, you can still surprise yourself. You don’t know what you’re capable of yet, and it’s up to you if you want to find out or not. By the way, science has proven that you can teach an old dog new tricks so don’t try to say “This is just the way I am”.
You can be audacious. You can write a book, get the dream job, learn how to dance, fall in love, and go on an adventure… Do all the things if that’s what you want.
But also safeguard your well-being so that you can be wholly present and relish each moment without reservation. Learn to rest, grow your confidence and be kinder to yourself. Fix the stuff that stresses you out and take care of yourself physically and mentally. And go from there.