You’re in your fifties, you’ve reached middle age; what next?
It is a significant moment when you reach your fifties as a woman.
So, you’re in your fifties now what?
A heady mix of menopause, hormonal teenagers and husbands who also feel that life is at a turning point.
There’s a lot to juggle as a middle-aged woman.
Think back to your teenage years; it feels like a lifetime ago.
Fifty-something happens to other people, not you.
In children’s eyes, 21 is old; 30, how old? 40 absolutely ancient, and 50 positively decrepit.
Described by Wikipedia as the period beyond young adulthood but before the onset of old age.
And while experts dispute the exact age range, predominantly 45 – 65 years, there can be no disputing that middle-age marks a gradual decline in physical and cognitive changes for women.
A lack of confidence, energy and ambition thwarts our daily progress, and with menopause, it’s no wonder we are depicted as moody, tired and downright miserable.
You lack confidence, and your ambition is thwarted in favour of an early night and a cup of Horlicks.
While all of the above sounds like a death toll, never has there been a more exciting time for a fifty-plus woman in the 21st century.
Women are empowered; we vote, and we also lead.
We are heading up boardrooms; as of 2021, women hold 393 directorships across FTSE 100 boards and 688 across FTSE 250 boards, and while the glass ceiling is at striking distance, organisations have some way to go to achieve gender diversity and inclusion.
But we are getting there, albeit slowly.
Middle age isn’t all about work. Many factors dictate the success of the quinquagenarian decade.
For a start, women don’t fear falling pregnant as their reproductive years are behind, and sex with your partner can be fun and liberating if you’re not exhausted by menopause and the other tiresome niggles that accompany it.
But, it does have its downside.
Child-rearing, work, and menopause have blurred how we see ourselves.
I was audacious in my twenties and thirties. Now in my fifties, my spark has all but been extinguished.
I call it comparison disorder, spending too much time comparing my life to others thinking, have I really missed out?
Whether an update on social media, a friend or a colleague that you admire and want to emulate.
Social Media serves up an unhealthy dose of unhappiness and inadequacy and makes us feel insubstantial and less attractive.
Social media did not exist in my teens, and we’ve learned that the social media jungle has teeth and a lot of them.
Beauty products, celebrities, young and fabulously wealthy people are frequent reminders of ageing.
A combination of jealousy and resentment adds to feelings of inadequacy.
We belittle ourselves and our lives because we feel we aren’t good enough.
Menopause is partly accountable for this erosion of self-confidence.
My friends and female acquaintances of a similar age endorse my point of view.
In my experience, middle age is tinged with some regrets and a sprinkle of wishful thinking.
Is it a milestone worthy of celebration?
Or an anxiety-induced decade fuelled by flagging confidence and bosoms.
A decade of transition, both physical, mental, and emotional.
While these changes are natural, it is a stressful time.
The reflection that stares back at you reminds you of the woman you once were.
Changing your mindset requires self-belief and a positive attitude.
The change affects the best of us, and it is a challenge to view the future with hope and optimism when anxiety leaves you fretful and exhausted.
With a racing heart, hot flushes that can melt the ice cap; laughing causes your pelvic floor muscles to fail when you need them the most.
What is there to look forward to other than the end of menopause and more wrinkles?
While there is no easy answer, the key lies within us; having clarity and vision on the remainder of the lives we want to create as we enter old age.
In defence of middle age, it is a time to evaluate what is important, take stock and make changes.
Women are on the threshold of greatness, and how we view the landscape determines how we navigate middle age.
Without these experiences and menopause, we would not be the beautiful women we are today, which is worth celebrating.