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The surprising joy of turning 50

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Cerith Gardiner - published on 04/23/24

Here are seven reasons why it's important to embrace reaching half a century.

In just over a week I’ll be blowing out 50 candles. The prospect sort of makes me giggle as I can’t quite believe I’m mature enough to be half a century. However, with four children to count for, and a few decades of working, it makes sense that those years are adding up correctly.

Yet, instead of feeling a sense of dread, I feel more alive than ever before, and strangely rather excited. In fact, I felt more despair when I hit 40. I’ve therefore been reflecting on why I feel more than happy to embrace 50 years of life on earth, and how we shouldn’t feel such trepidation when it comes to notching up five decades… or even more. And here’s what I came up:

I’m still here!

This is something quite significant to consider. In centuries gone by I’m pretty sure I’d have died in childbirth with my firstborn’s complicated delivery. Yet, today, our life expectancy is so much higher and there are endless opportunities to be had still.

Not only that but looking at the news can often seem nothing but misery, with the tragic deaths of many young people often reported. For some reason I’m still here, however, and that’s not only something that should never be taken for granted, but something to celebrate.

Meaningful friendships

It’s only in recent years where things have really started to make sense to me. I understand my own character and know what makes me happy, and also what I need to do in order to feel this happiness.

However, I also feel I understand the world a little more. I’ve got a lot better at looking at things from another person’s perspective and their life experiences, and this has created more meaningful friendships with people from a number of different backgrounds.

Knowing what to let go of

In the past I have clung to the idea of something, or someone, thinking that it was right for me. But now there are some things that I know are not meant to be for me. And I’m happy to let go and not feel regret, as by letting go, I can make room for different experiences or people that are right for me. (Admittedly a lot of people get to this point earlier in life, but I can be stubborn!)

Learning to accept

In earlier decades I definitely had the sense of trying to control what was happening in my life more. Whereas now I’ve really learnt to allow life’s journey to roll out in front of me, and for me to follow the road wherever it takes me.

Having gone through a number of difficult experiences, I’m more than aware that things really do work out just how they are meant to. The peace of mind that this can bring is allowing me to approach things with more patience, and less need to force situations. I can sit back, with a hot chocolate in hand (after all, I’m still a kid at heart!), and enjoy the process of getting wherever I’m meant to be. It’s certainly the case of surrendering to God’s will.

Excitement for the future

In as much as I’m embarking on the downward hill of my life’s journey, I’m going to be taking each step feeling a desire to really make the most of each moment, which is really exciting!

On top of which, now that my children are older, I’m in a stronger position to seize certain opportunities that were out of my reach before. And who knows where these opportunities might take me, and them?

Working out professional life

One thing I’ve certainly learnt during my professional career is you really never know what different jobs you’ll end up doing, or the fascinating people you’ll meet along the way. In the past I’ve had the habit of saying “yes” to different work situations, not knowing if they were the right decision or not.

However, when I look back at my professional life I’ve seen that stepping out of my comfort zone has led to some interesting projects, that in turn led to other interesting projects. And this is something I believe will continue up until the day I retire, and even then, I’m sure there’ll be different opportunities to consider.

Feeling confident

Personally I feel 50 is a time of confidence. After all, I’ve reached an important milestone in my life still in one piece, with just a few wrinkles and grey hairs to mark the journey. (Although, honestly, how I’ve got any hair left is a miracle in itself.)

With confidence, understanding, acceptance, and excitement in hand, I’m hoping the next half century will be full of joy. And when it’s not, I’ll have the experience to know that any pain won’t be forever, and hopefully this life is just a tiny stepping stone towards a joyful eternal life.

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