For every women, midlife is a unique time of life filled with challenges and opportunities. For women in the corporate or business world it can sometimes be either brutal because of gendered ageism and perimenopause, or liberating. Either way, it is a deep and profound time in our lives when, as women, we feel drawn to assess where we are in our lives and careers, what we now wish to do and how we wish to express ourselves.
Developmentally, midlife starts in our mid-30s and lasts until our mid-60s. It carries us through five full stages of adult development before we get to what is considered the first stage of old age. However culturally, midlife is considered to be around 50 and that used to be “old.” We now have a life span that reaches our 80s, 90s and for some, beyond. Midlife is simply a numerical midpoint with 30 and potentially 40 years to go. For many people these days these are at least 30 more vibrant years.
Pro-tip: eat well, exercise, sleep, and socialize with friends and family!
Midlife is often misrepresented in our youth obsessed culture as the beginning of an end, a time filled with loss and decline. It is actually the prime time of our lives informed by our innermost selves. Yes, it can come with a fare share of challenges that are emotionally and psychologically disruptive. And, it is a time of a deep self-reflection, self-assessment, and re-prioritizing.
So why is it prime time; what are the upsides?
The stages of midlife start in the late 30s as women are letting go of needing to please and live up to other people’s expectations. Launching into our 40s is a time of greater confidence and drive. And yup, if we have kids we’re raising kids. And, if we have entered perimenopause and are having symptoms we have to deal with that. (For insight see: Perimenopause at the Office: What Fresh Hell is This?) Awesome, right? However, we are entering our prime and feel more grounded and in-charge with each passing day.
By the time we reach our 50s, we are truly coming into our own. We are far enough along in our careers to have an understanding of where we are, if we are satisfied or not, and are able to give thought to what might come next. Curiosity and open-mindedness are the names of the game. Many of us are excited by taking risks and doing things we have always wanted to do. Many of us feel a strong creative urge and many of us are drawn to a deeply spiritual exploration. Nearly all of us have an insatiable craving to develop a deeper relationship with ourselves and manifest our potential in new and different ways.
With fewer responsibilities we have much more “Me Time” and often more financial flexibility. It is a time to ask ourselves, “What do I want to be able to say about myself a year from now (or 5 years, or 10 years) that I can’t say now?” It is a time for looking at what might be more fulfilling and meaningful. It is a time to ask ourselves, “What do I finally want to achieve that I have been denying myself?” Many women I work with remark that their 50s and 60s feel like the most empowered and exciting times of their lives.
Pro-tip: stay eating healthy and exercising, sleeping and socializing! And let yourself go through a period of feeling a little lost and wondering who you want to be when you grow-up.
With post-menopausal zest (a real thing!) and the lack of concern about getting pregnant, women often feel a renewed self-confidence and a vibrancy we may feel we had seen the last of. While we were suffering from everything from hot flashes, dry vaginas, and the insult of being told by our culture that we are old now, we may have felt we were indeed over the proverbial hill. These days we are aware that we, most emphatically, are not! We are now looking at reinventing and re-configuring our lives and careers with passion.
It is time to kick up our heals and dance the midlife happy dance!
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