59 Going on 48

I don’t like my age, that number. I can’t face the one that comes next. My husband felt the same way this past year when he was due to hit that big one. He was so miserable we couldn’t even celebrate. He wouldn’t even let me invite family members over for a piece of cake. He moped for months as the date approached, seemingly uncheerable until I suggested that maybe it was time for us to start lying about our ages. He was turning 49 and I was now 48. He visibly brightened immediately. I felt the same way. Oh to be 48 again! Not even 50! That got my blood flowing and lowered my anxiety.

I can’t bring myself to actually lie to people; lying to myself seems enough. Not that anyone asks me my age, and in my own experience, it’s hard to guess how old is someone else. Your own biases about age creep into your guesses. To most young people, 30 is old, 40 is unthinkable and 50 is totally done. But that’s all changed for our generation, in our culture. Rush Limbaugh nailed it when he talked about how his father in his 40s already felt like his choices had all been made, it was by then his time to just carry on as he always had. I remember when I was in my early 20s, one of the women in the office had become pregnant at 42. I thought that was crazy, imagining her with a teenager as she approached 60! A senior citizen, sitting idle in a rocking chair! Measure that against today’s standards. I had my second son at 37.

Yes, it’s all different now. Still I hate the approaching number, the entire decade. Mostly because I can’t figure out where the past decade went. So fast, it’s all a blur. I know I should be focused on paying attention this time, slowing time down. But first I have to face the reality of it and decide what to do with it. And I have been trying to figure it out, but for the first time in my life, I am not sure about my next steps. And that’s not like me. I have strong intuition and have always had no trouble following it. But for the first time in my life, my gut is wavering, throwing me to and fro like waves coming in at differing angles on the beach. I gather information and wisdom from all sources, open to the Universe’s direction. A quote or Facebook share will ring true, but I will fail action, lost in an inner debate about what feels right versus what takes too much energy or will lead to regret down the road.

Am I ready for a new challenge or too tired? Is it time to coast or is there still time to dream? That’s my inner torment. I do dream. I want to write a best-selling book that turns into a movie starring Ryan Gosling. My gut wrenches when I think someone has beat me to it, that book that wants written. When I was much younger that feeling was enough to spur me on to action and the success that followed. But now … the motivation comes and goes infuriating me. One day I’m sure I’ve got it, the outline for the book and how to market it. I’m filled with inspiration and excitement, looking forward to seeing it all unfold. The next day, I’ve lost it. Life is comfortable. I am content soaking up the beauty of the blue sky and puffy clouds, looking forward to tonight’s dinner. I know what success feels like; I don’t need to actually experience it again, do I?

I recently started a new job. It’s in retail, not what I was looking for. My varied career has provided a depth of skills and knowledge, so I hoped to get into some big organization at an entry level where I could prove myself and move up. My first full-time work had been secretarial, so I applied everywhere to receptionist openings. Talk about a different job market, I didn’t get a single interview in many months’ trying. Tapped into all the online job sources, my resume went to countless companies, and I formally applied to many, including some where I was known to the principals. The only responses I received came weeks or even months later as form rejection emails stating the company had decided to explore other more suitable candidates.

A friend suggested maybe I was being rejected as overqualified, the employer thinking I’d want too much money. How much money could I expect if I were applying to be a receptionist? Wouldn’t a smart employer read my resume and realize they could be getting the best receptionist they ever had? Wouldn’t they even at least be curious enough to call me, invite me in for an interview? One rejection email stated that they had received over 50 resumes for the opening. I guess it’s too easy to be lost in a pile. In my last position, I was the one reading the resumes; I admit my own biases and can understand how I might be overlooked. My friend suggested I should try stating I’m a stay at home mom returning to work to indicate I don’t have such high expectations. I tried that in my most recent application; I’ve had no response so far one week post-send.

So retail it is, and to my surprise I am enjoying it. It’s busy, I like the people I work with, the environment, the merchandise. I like the variety of schedule and new experiences every day. Meanwhile, I have met people from the corporate office who may be interested in me. I thought that was what I wanted, to move up, further my career. That was what younger me would have wanted. Yes, maybe I’ll do the reverse of what More magazine is always touting, I’ll get a new corporate career at my age rather than leave the corporate world to grow trees in a third world country. Yes, I could write about that and More magazine will promote my new book …. Or maybe I’ll just enjoy punching out, looking at the puffy clouds on my way home and thinking about what to eat for dinner.