I am 58 at the time of this writing and I do not feel my best days are behind me. This does not mean that I have not weathered life and health struggles, by any means. From being a single mom on welfare in my mid-forties to having a close call with colon cancer, and losing friends to illness, I’ve had my fair share of obstacles.
That said, I sometimes feel more in tune with younger people who are still enthusiastic about life and what it has to offer. I can easily connect with people of any age who are motivated to change themselves and the world around them because I still share their excitement.
Perhaps it is because I have always been a freelancer or self-employed in the creative field of writing and publishing. I still get a charge when I land a new gig or start a new venture.
For example, I became a certified yoga instructor in my mid-fifties, and now I’m teaching yoga on the side of my writing. This, to me, is invigorating!
For someone who was always a stay-at-home mom, or on the contrary, a full-time corporate career person, the feeling may be very different if they are now out of a job or even retired from their main occupation, and I get that.
I also had my kids late; the first at 37 and the second at 40. I learned to incorporate them into my freelance work schedule. Now that they are older (the second will soon be off to college), I don’t feel useless, because I never quit pursuing my career. This could again be very different for someone who was a younger parent.
I am thankful that I grew up in a family of writers and that I eventually married one too (my second marriage, our relationship going on 13 years strong). My late father-in-law was also a writer – a journalist – and he wrote until a few days before his death two years ago.
He, my grandfather, and my own father have all taught me that having a passion and working on it – something that you can get lost in obsessively – can make one feel a sense of purpose, regardless of age.
Even if you feel you peaked when you were young – I know a few people who have this impression about themselves – you can rewrite your script going forward and maybe even take off in a completely different direction.
As much as society seems to see early retirement as a success, I personally don’t feel that retirement from work would feel satisfying to me. I would most likely – no, I WOULD – continue to write and/or teach yoga – whether I needed the money or not, simply because both things are immensely satisfying to me. If and when the day came that I no longer wanted to do these, I would definitely find another purpose, another goal, and work towards it.
Whether I have ten years or thirty left (and hopefully more, as my late Abuelita lived to be over 101), I know I will enjoy them way more if I dedicate myself to one or more things that help me feel like I’m making a difference than if I throw my hands up in despair and just cruise along like I have all the time in the world.
I don’t know what makes you tick, that’s for you to decide. If you can’t think of one single thing, maybe try a few. In my fifties, I’ve learned how to do a free-standing handstand, gone on adventure courses and tried SUP yoga for the first time. I continue to brush up on my social media skills to continue storytelling online, and I’m already thinking about what new things I can take up once my youngest is in college and we have an empty nest.
I’d love to know how you feel about all of this and whether you need some extra motivation to find that spark you may feel you’ve lost. It’s still there, you just have to ignite it!