I am thirty-four, so I am at that weird age where twenty-year-olds think I’m as wise as Yoda and sixty-year-olds know that I know jack shit about life.
I am also lucky enough to have a few best friends who are almost double my age and I love our relationships to death.
People fifty and over understand the way of the world.
They have seen the changes in society, they have dealt with a lot of hardship and understand the real truths. They are no longer lying or pretending to have it all figured out because they have long realized that no one ever has it all figured out and are not afraid to admit it.
The one common truth I hear from this group of people is that life should be lived purely for your own purposes.
Get married, don’t get married. Have kids, don’t have kids. Go to school, don’t go to school. Do whatever, but do it for yourself. Do not make big life choices based on parental expectations, societal wants or external praise because all of that is temporary.
At the end of the road it is just you, alone, and if you only have external gratification to show for your life, you will be miserable.
I have learned that so many things that I thought were requirements for a ‘good’ life are not.
Many things I thought I needed to do might actually hinder my life in the long run. I thought I needed to be married, have children and own a nice big house by this age, but I am learning that all of that stuff is a farce.
We do so much to simply show other people that we have done it, and not for ourselves or our own happiness.
I am not married, never plan to get married (again) and I have learned that it does not really matter.
It matters in fleeting seconds, when I am at a dinner party and a nosy stranger asks me why I am not married. I immediately feel less than, get defensive and try to justify my life choice.
‘Who gives a shit what other people think of you,’ is my new favourite mantra.
I do not have kids, but I have been thinking about having them a lot lately.
Many older women have warned me of the perils of having children. Some have even said that if they could go back in time, they would have never had children at all. When someone who has lived for twice as long as I have says something this pivotal, I bloody well listen. I question why I want to have kids. I wonder if it is just to prove that I can be a good mother.
These wonderful women have shown me that the Facebook photos are all lies and life is not any rosier behind the white picket fence.
I feel a lot of pressure to be a hard worker.
I never want to seem lazy at work. A colleague of mine, is who my dad’s age once said to me, ‘You should start working like me. I work half as much as you and have not been reprimanded once.’ I listened; when I am at work now, I think and work like a privileged white man. I am not trying to prove my worth on a daily basis; I do a good job, but I do not kill myself anymore because in the long run, it does not matter. I just end up suffering in the process.
I like to be a great host.
When people come over, I pride myself on providing a decadent homemade dessert, a lavish Indian meal and great conversation. I wear it like a badge of honour; even if it means that I wake up at 3 am to get everything ready for said dinner, before going to work, and then rushing home to prepare for my guests.
An older friend of mine was on the phone with me the other day and I told her I had to go because I had company coming over that evening and wanted to prepare dinner and make homemade donuts. She told me ‘no,’ that our conversation was not over and I was not doing that. I poured another cup of coffee for myself, sat on the sundeck and spoke with her for two more hours. Then I took a nap. When my my guests arrived I ordered a pizza and offered everyone sparkling water. It was the most relaxed I have been as a hostess in years.
Perhaps I sound bitter or jaded in these words, but I feel more alive and present than I ever have in my life.
I am learning that life is not about external gains, but about what makes me feel good on the inside.
I am no longer desperately seeking approval from others. I am ridding myself of the little girl inside of me who hinged all of her pride on her report card and a pat on the head from pops. I am learning that life is simple, but I have complicated mine by allowing others to have too many expectations of me. I have complicated a simple life by expecting too much of myself.
Do I have it all figured out? Nope, but I give way less of a shit today than I did yesterday, so there is progress.