Appreciating Teacher Appreciation Week
'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all

Envy-Free at 51?

I’m at the age when I should have stopped looking around to compare myself and my life to anyone else’s, and certainly not to everyone else’s. It’s time (51 is definitely after the supposed watershed moment) for me to rejoice in ME! I am free to discard all thoughts of limitations, weight issues, and life lackings—because, apparently, just getting to this point should be enough of an ego boost to last the rest of my lifetime!


And the trick’s on me because, unfortunately, this is just one more thing for me to feel bad about having failed: apparently I am the only woman who has failed in the “Look World, No Envy and No Jealousy! I Love My Almost Green Lawn Now That I’m 50!” stage of development.

Woe is me.

It’s not that I haven’t evolved at all, but there’s just no way a lifetime of thinking that I’m the smartest/stupidest/most attractive/least attractive/nicest/meanest woman around can be dismissed, or wished away just because THEY say it should be gone. You see, I’m still dealing with the darn THEYs of the world.

Even writing this has me fraught with comparisons because I am not writing the way I am supposed to. I can’t stay focused for more than ten minutes (I lied, five minutes) before I need to click to see if I have any emails or if there’s some undiscovered news to read. If I were a real writer, I’d focus fully for at least two hours without letting myself be tempted, even by the need to re-re-reheat my coffee. Alas, failure again.

And what of my being beyond all thoughts of could haves and should haves. I have found in my teeny tiny bit of research that it is the women who have checked off some accomplishments (besides the children, I mean, but that’s not exactly a unique accomplishment) who are able to lay claim to that “universal 50+ trait” of not comparing oneself to any other woman in the room. Is it that I am supposed to be content with not achieving any of the achievements I had dreamed of just because I’m 50+? Does it mean that I’m supposed to be content with whatever it is that I have done and not worry about falling further and further away from what I think I am capable or want I want to do? If that’s the case, doesn’t it assume, sort of, that I have given up, that I am no longer going to push myself because I have done all that I can expect from myself? But I am not ready to throw in any towels—I’m still here and hope to be for a while to come.

The real difference for me, pre and post the dawning of this marvelous age of the new Middle Age, is that I have less of a speak-up suppressor. The hand-over-mouth synchronicity that was there from my teen years to not so very long ago has vanished—POOF! The big mouth I was when I was still wearing dresses and Danskins is back, but the big difference is that in 3rd grade it was just a need to talk constantly, now it’s a need to say what I think—even if it’s not my turn to speak and even if it’s not censured for proper company. The topics are often of the “think but don’t say” variety; it does feel good, I admit, to have overridden the what-will-they-say internal censor.

My skin. Apparently my skin is supposed to be very very comfy right about now, but I look in the mirror and I see that my face is fuller than it’s supposed to be and not as bright as it’s supposed to be. In my mind, I am the woman of my wedding pictures. I was 24 then. I am not now. I’m not even married now. Yet that’s my mind’s image of myself. How the heck am I supposed to change from perception to reality? And, really, are all those other happy-with-their-lawn women really seeing themselves in the here-and-now or are they trying to trick me for someone else’s good? Is it really bad that every time I peek in the mirror I am disappointed that I’m still me, as in puffy-and-tired-faced Laura? Isn’t it, in some sense, a good thing that I am not willing to forsake my hopes and dreams just because I have reached an age milestone?

Why am I feeling bad that I’m not aging the way I’m supposed to?

Is it self-esteem issues, still? Or is it that this magical glory-be-me revelation isn’t something that we all get to share? Perhaps, as in all things, it happens for some while for others it just doesn’t happen with exclamation marks or over tea with my closest, dearest friends since kindergarten.

What’s wrong with a bit of envy? Isn’t it a bit of a driving force? Can everything really be completely internally driven? Do we all become yogi masters when we step over the 50 milestone? Maybe the key is that by this time we have made our own internal recipes where we can adjust what we need with what we have and what we can still get, as opposed to thinking that all’s well, couldn’t be better, I’m where I’m supposed to be without really believing it—or afraid to believe it.  


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