I've heard it said that "age is just a number." On the one hand, that is true. On the other hand, though, it is not: for to have reached the half-century mark is somehow an accomplishment -- or at the very least, an indication of having gathered a relatively significant amount of life experience. I was initially dreading 50, but now that it is here, I am... well, not delighted, necessarily, but OK, all things considered. So, brava, me.
I've established a few Rules For 50 for myself. I think they will serve me well.
Rule 1: I will no longer explain to other people, the words I would like to hear in a particular situation.
Why Rule 1? I have spent a lifetime trying, trying, trying: if I just behaved properly, if I just did the right things, if I just explained myself sufficiently, surely the people around me would understand and spontaneously (of their own determination and volition) utter the words of consolation and understanding that I longed to hear. 50 years in, I've learned that it doesn't work that way. People have their own thoughts and their own internal lives, and may not understand, or have the ability to respond, in the way I would understand or respond myself. And no amount of effort on my part is sufficient to somehow cause people to say -- or do -- what I would like. So, no more.
What shall I do instead? I'll continue to turn to my Safe People when I am in distress; however, I'll do my best to bear in mind that I might not get what I would like, or what I need. And I will talk to myself -- because who is likely to know what will bring me comfort? I am. (You can read more about Self-Talk here.)
Rule 2: I will make a conscious decision to ask for help when I am feeling overwhelmed. I will do so with the understanding that help may not be given. And I will remember that if I do not ask, I cannot be angry or sad that no one is helping. (This ties in with Rule 1 -- I cannot expect other people to determine what I want or need.)
Rule 3: I will no longer be concerned with whether other people find me physically attractive.
This does not mean that I will "let myself go;" rather, it is a conscious decision to stop looking for external validation about my physical appearance. Should I receive a compliment, I will be grateful; but I shall not expect or hope for compliments. Should someone flirt with me, I will be pleased (assuming, of course, that I recognize behavior as flirtation -- for I am sadly rather oblivious to what constitutes flirtation). Nevertheless, I shall not expect nor hope for such occurrences. I will take care of my appearance and dress in a way that makes me feel comfortable and (hopefully) good about myself. That will have to be enough.
Rule 4: I will take care of myself.
This means, I will make myself nutritious meals on a regular basis; I will exercise diligently; I will take my vitamins, and get rest, and generally look after myself. I have spent 50 years putting others' needs ahead of mine, and that should change. I do not intend to put myself ahead of everyone else -- that is wrong, unnecessary, and likely impossible -- but I do intend to at least care for myself in the way that I try to care for other people.
Those are the rules. Only four of them. They seem simple. Their implementation will take time and effort, and I am sure that I will backslide into negative habits periodically. But I will keep trying.
I shall let you know how it goes.
Thank you, gentle reader, for walking this Path with me.