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Saying Hello to My “F*#k You Fifties”

The thing young women don’t know? Getting older has some perks – including not giving a darn what anyone thinks. Read more from Hélène Tragos Stelian on her blog, Next Act for Women.

Saying Hello to My “F*#k You Fifties”

I remember, a few years ago, sitting in a parenting group with a dozen women in their forties, all of us with daughters in middle school. As we swapped parenting stories, sharing the inevitable girl drama, hurt feelings, rejection, and exclusion our daughters faced, we felt a little overwhelmed.

We felt a little sad, too, as memories of our own teen struggles surfaced — and, frankly, relieved that those difficult years had passed.

At some point, we wondered aloud: If we could go back in time, what would we want to say to our younger, teenage selves?

The near unanimous response? “It gets better.”

While even today, at 51, friendships still disappoint, here’s the difference: I know now that, for the most part, the deepest friendships survive. As for the others, well, maybe they were never solid enough to last.

With age comes perspective. If nothing else, my years of struggle and disappointment have taught me that things have been, and always could be, worse.

It’s in this spirit — motivated by writer Suzanne Braun Levine — that I am fully embracing my “F*#k You Fifties.” I’ve finally arrived to a place where I care less about living up to others’ expectations and more about being who I want to be.

I’m tired of regrets. Are there roads I wish I’d taken and choices I wish I hadn’t made? Absolutely. But I’ve stopped wringing my hands over those. I can’t undo the past, so I’m trying to live in the present.

I let very little drama into my life. I just don’t have the patience for the little things that used to bug me or the perceived slights that caused me to ruminate for days on end.

I’m a lot braver than I was in my youth, more willing to try new things and less worried about failure or rejection. From self-publishing a book to starting a blog, I’m looking for purpose beyond being a wife and a mother.

I’m defying my natural introversion by reaching out to interesting women and asking them to meet for coffee. I’m saying yes to spontaneous invitations to dinner or a lecture — and letting my husband and kids fend for themselves.

I’m joining a group of women I barely knew — now my friends — for a regular Estrogen Poker Night, learning Texas hold ‘em and betting with money for the first time.

And I’m making some bucket list dreams come true. Just last month, I jumped out of a plane.

With this new attitude come smaller, but still meaningful, changes too. Where once I was concerned with appearance above all else, I now live in my comfy leggings and oversized sweaters.

While I’m busy saying yes to new experiences, I’m also allowing myself to say no more often. Whether it’s not answering the phone during dinner or declining invitations for tedious gatherings, if I don’t feel like doing something — and I don’t need to — I take a pass.

This goes for people, too. If spending time with someone leaves me feeling worse about myself, I’m done.

And my filter is going. Don’t “old people” drive you crazy with all the inappropriate things they say? Well, with each passing year, I find myself just saying what comes to mind.

But that’s not all bad. In fact, it’s allowed me to be a lot more generous with compliments, even to strangers. In the past I’d think “wow I really like the way she did that.” Now, I find myself saying it out loud.

While my “F*#k You Fifties” have caused my teen daughters some embarrassment (so, what else is new?), I hope they’ll find themselves in the exact same place in 30 years.

So to all you young women, let me say it again: It does get better. And one day, like me, you’ll end up in the “F*#k You Fifties,” and you won’t want to look back.

You’ll be having too much fun playing poker and saying crazy shit.

Hélène Tragos Stelian

Hélène Tragos Stelian is a certified life coach, speaker, and author. As an expert on the midlife transition, she works primarily with women facing an empty nest who feel stuck or lost—she’s been there! She helps them put themselves first, reclaim their identity, figure out what they want, and feel excited about their future. In her blog, Next Act for Women, she shares stories of women who have reinvented in midlife and beyond, and provides resources for those on similar journeys. In addition, she writes about midlife, women, parenting, and college for other sites, including the Huffington Post. Hélène is the author of three books: Moving to College, Finding the Right Colleges for You, and Getting Ready for Baby.  Connect with Hélène on Facebook and Twitter.

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Friday 17th of April 2015

Love it! I'm in the F*#k You Sixties and not looking back!! Living in the moment is the only way to go!

Hélène Tragos Stelian

Friday 17th of April 2015

Ooh yes, excited to know that the fun continues in our sixties thanks for that!!

Tam Warner Minton

Thursday 16th of April 2015

Awesome attitude! After a lifetime of doing for everyone else, and being unselfish, and sometimes a doormat, I am liking the idea of the F*ck you Fifties!

Hélène Tragos Stelian

Thursday 16th of April 2015

Thanks for reading Tam. Yes, I do love my new-found gumption and attitude! It can be a very liberating time in our lives -- or at least I'm choosing to see it that way...

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