My first boss died of a brain tumor in his mid 40s. About 10 years after he died, I was talking to one of my co-workers and he commented that he was the same age as my boss had been when he died. He said you know, this is the age where you finally come into your own, and it's too bad he never got to experience that.
I was surprised by the comment, because this co-worker and I rarely talked about anything other than work. But it was one of those comments that always stuck with me.
Sometimes people make the comment that they would love to be young again. I am not in agreement. While I'm starting to feel old in many ways - with memory loss, aching joints and daily medications - I don't want to go back there. I think of youth as always worrying what people will think. Decisions being made based on how others would perceive me. Yeah, I've been there and done that, and I'm quite happy with where I am.
In my youth, I was a workaholic, and I thrived on that. When our company went through an upheaval years ago, and we were all stressed out to the max, I started to re-evaluate my priorities. And I decided that more than anything else, I wanted peace and balance in my life. I set up an interview at a company that was a 7 minute drive from my home, after driving downtown for 19 years. The position at this company was a lesser position than what I had previously held, and I wanted that lesser position. But the person interviewing me didn't get that, and had me come back for something like 5 interviews with different employees there, who were all shocked that I was going DOWN the career ladder. I explained to each one that I was looking for more balance and fewer responsibilities. I didn't understand why they didn't get that. I'm thinking it's a middle-aged mentality.
I had one interview at a place where the interviewer reminded me of me 25 years ago. She was very important at that company, and she felt important, and it was very important for her to feel important! During the interview she talked disparagingly about employees who arrived right on time, who took their full lunch, and - god forbid - who left right at 5:00. I honestly was feeling there wasn't enough air in that room and I had to get out of there! I thought lady, there is more to life than your job! But she was young, and hadn't smartened up yet.
I think part of aging is really enjoying the simple things that I would have found boring in my youth. Like gardening. I started to get into that a few years ago, and I can't tell you the joy I experience in the summer just walking out to my little flower garden and vegetable garden and seeing what's growing there. I'm thinking when you're young, you have accomplishments like good grades or starring in a school play or getting on a varsity team. Now, getting anything to grow when there was previously only soil is a major accomplishment that makes me proud!
And while I have known older people who speak their mind to the point of being obnoxious, I think middle-age brings with it an it's-ok-to-say-what's-on-your-mind mentality. As long as it's respectful.
Part of being middle-aged is also being able to see your kids in a different light. I'm not there to tell them what to do anymore, but to watch and hope they make the decisions that are best for them. Of course as a mom, I will always worry about my kids, but it's kind of interesting to see the paths they choose for themselves.
So I don't yearn for the days of my youth. I'm quite content with where I am right now.