I turn 50 this month. There. I’ve said it. I've finally admitted what I've been fearful will forever change the course of my life if people knew the truth about my age. So my “big secret” is out now. I've been approaching this birthday with reticence, fear, ambivalence, anxiety and a whole lot of inquisitiveness as to why this random number on the scale of age is so very complex in my mind compared to, say, 45, 39, 28…. Of all the answers that keep coming up, one stands out the most: the perceived stigma of a woman aging. And it seems I've bought into it. Every now and then I have been thinking to myself, “I won't be able to do this very well much longer; people will no longer be interested in my work/me; I can now just sit back and watch the slow decline of all my success begin from this point on.”
Huh? What in the world? How did I buy into that incredibly freaky-stupid mess?
See, I've been mightily ambitious since my teenage years. I’m not exactly sure how that came about but history shows I'm a go-getter. Heck, I had a full-time job my senior year of high school; I worked two and three jobs while putting myself through college; even early on in life I suspected I would work for myself. Today I still work two and three jobs. It seems there’s still a lot of passion, energy and interests in these aging bones that still feel so young and energetic. And I still aspire to make big things happen.
But here's the difference between my younger days and my current pursuits: I'm so much more capable of finding intelligent solutions in the work I do, with more kindness, clarity and confidence, even more patience—driven to find not only the most visually stunning and smart solution to each project I'm fortunate enough to work on but also, and more importantly, the most successful and compelling answer to the needs and wants of my clients and their success. The challenges of these pursuits have become much more of an exciting adventure than they ever were as a young designer.
I can truly say they the roster of clients and vendors I work with is the most amazing it's ever been. I adore these people that seek to make our communities, the people around us, the lives they influence and ultimately the world, much better. Whether it's companies pursuing better healthcare and their policies; non-profits changing the lives of those who can't always speak up for themselves; those providing a bridge between countries; therapeutic and personal growth workshops offered to people who seek it; artists whose music puts a little swing in your steps or new opening in your heart; a membership organization helping to improve the legal system locally; or even the simple pursuit of the most impressive and delicious delights of desserts—being in partnership with all these clients’ endeavors is icing on the cake for me. Glorious and amazing icing on a 50-year-old’s birthday cake. It's a great honor to be in partnership with these folks.
So I will not be defined by these silly fears of what aging stirs up in me. If people want to define me by that number in a negative light, that's their prerogative. I'm going to buck the stigmas of an aging woman and not hide the fact that I'm still supremely capable and successful in this career of mine. I plan to remain open to the endless delightful surprises this creative life continues to present. May we all have continued success and prosperity. I love all that we do together!
Happy birthday to me! I'm going to go do some handstands and cartwheels now.