A pair of “Thirty Somethings” helped me better understand starting over at 50.
Jenn Bernert, LHMC (my business partner and friend) and her husband JP Anderson (PhD to be) represent the “Thirty Something” group very well. Smart, empathetic, creative, genuine, wise. A
However, on Father’s Day, I found myself feeling a heaviness of heart –a combination of mourning and uncertainty. I was describing my lament to Jenn, when she said: “Well, it sounds like you are in two places at once.”
She is right.
I am part of the “Start Over 50 Something” population (starting over at 50) people who have “found” themselves at a later age professionally, emotionally, spiritually, or personally. There is a certain energetic and youthful vigor when you find new passions, new relationships, new families, new careers, new directions, and new beginnings — at the age of 50. It’s also really awesome to feel younger again.
However, starting over at 50 means you are a demographic that marks the event horizon into senior transition. The longer you live, the more you will lose.
Perhaps it is the decline or loss of physical stamina and strength. Maybe it is divorce. Or multiple divorces. It could be about leaving loved ones or loved ones leaving. Or losing friends. Perhaps, a financial loss. Loss of career. It could also be about the mourning of long-awaited wants that may not come to pass. Maybe all of the above.
Starting over at 50 = being in two places at once.
For the Start Over 50 Something, it can be hard balancing the infinite-ness of new beginnings and the very real finite reminders of conclusion, closure, endings.
However, on the plus side, it makes things a bit more interesting. For example, it’s totally okay to have fun, go to a club AND return home by 10 p.m. Professional relationships become a very good blend of youthful energy and acceptance. Intimacy is both passionate and comforting.
Remember dating “in your 20’s and 30’s? It’s a completely different ball game for the Start Over 50 Something (that’s my next blog).
The psychology and emotional needs of the Start Over 50 Something can be unique, difficult, confusing, joyous — similar to two other groups: teens and two year-olds.
The most difficult thing for a teenager is being caught between two different places. The teenager is entering adulthood and feels that new beginning. The teenager also clings to remain a child, to be taken care of. For the teenager it can be a difficult and confusing place to be.
Between the ages of two and four, a child becomes more aware of his/her individual wants. The child realizes ownership, space independence, and concepts of “mind not yours.” AND the child is still absolutely basic needs dependent. It is a very difficult and confusing place to be.
The Start Over 50 Something is a dialectical experience — the experience of youthful energy and uncertainty when starting over AND the real experience of decline, loss and slowing down. It is both life affirming AND confusing. It is filled with uncertainty, risk, energy, vigor, and grief and loss — all at once.
To be a Start Over 50 Something is not the same as being in a midlife crisis, because it’s not about being in a crisis. Starting over at 50 is about choices and being given the opportunity to take a chance again.
And at times it can feel as fearful, uncertain, and confusing as a crisis.